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This Is The Worst Stock Tip I Ever Received

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(This post originally appeared on Inc.)

“The company’s called Symbol Technologies and they make bar code scanners. You definitely need to buy their stock!”

That was the advice given to me from my friend Mike. And I took it. I bought $5,000 shares of Symbol Technologies. And you know what? He was right. Symbol’s a great company and at the time – this was the late 1990’s – they were an up-and-comer in the nascent world of bar code scanners.  Since that time the stock has gone up by multiples. Unfortunately, I never shared in those gains. I dumped the stock six months after I bought it. For a loss. Why?

The stock pretty much sat there at the same price day in and day out for a few months. Until one day when I noticed it was mentioned in the Wall Street Journal. Interested to see why this small (yet growing), publicly-held company was in the news I flipped to the story and found out that just the day before Symbol announced a disappointing sales forecast and its stock dropped more than 30 percent. Hey, these things happen. But wow, that really spooked me. So instead of holding on to it and weathering the storm I just freaked. And bailed. I took my losses and licked my wounds.

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Whole Foods Has to Pay $65K For Firing A Cashier With a Disability

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(This post originally appeared on Inc.)

If you fired an employee with a disability you better be very careful you’ve crossed your T’s. Otherwise you could be paying a steep fine.

That’s what Whole Foods Markets just found out.  The food retailer, which is owned by online retailer Amazon.com, will be paying $65,000 – and providing “other relief” to an employee suffering from kidney disease that was wrongfully fired.

The story dates back to 2009. That was when Diane Butler, a cashier at a Whole Foods’ Raleigh, North Carolina store was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease, a genetic disease that can lead to kidney failure. During that year, Butler underwent a kidney transplant, but eventually returned to work. Fast forward to December, 2015. Butler, who was still undergoing treatment for the condition, missed two days of work because she had been hospitalized and needed to visit her doctor. Although Butler said she informed Whole Foods of her pending absence, the company still fired her.

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Why is Walmart Catching Up To Amazon?

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(This post originally appeared on Inc.)

Big business, small business, whatever. If you’re in retail, you should be paying very close attention to Walmart.

The retailing giant, which will be releasing results for its fiscal third quarter Thursday, is doing well. Very well.  Earnings per share are expected to be ahead of forecasts. Revenue for the quarter should be about $2 billion higher than the same period last year. Its stock price has rallied about 15 percent in the last three months and is up about 4 percent year to date and many analysts believe it will go higher this week.

That’s not to say that the company doesn’t have its challenges. Big investments are needed for store refurbishments and technology upgrades (which I’ll get to that in a moment). Finding, keeping and competitively compensating people is a headache and an increasing cost. Rising inflation will have an impact on margins. Most importantly, there is China. Although the Trump tariff dispute with China isn’t expected to affect holiday sales or margins (most of Walmart’s purchases were made before the tariffs took effect) many are concerned what impact will be seen in 2019.

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Wonder Why Gogo’s Stock is Down 35 Percent This Year? Do You Really Have to Ask?

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(This post originally appeared on Inc.)

I’m writing this column on a flight and would love to upload it to Inc.com. But unfortunately, I’m unable right now. Why? Because Gogo.

I’m a very frequent traveler and a heavy internet user. Like many business people, I like to bring work to do on a plane. Gone are the days of cross-country flights where we can sip G&Ts and watch a movie. Today, we’re expected to get things done, and we rely on technology to do that.

Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to rely on Gogo’s inflight Internet service. In fact — and this is the truth — when I know the work I’m doing on the next day’s flight will require internet research, I literally do that research the night before and copy and paste dozens of web pages into a local Word document so I can access it on the plane. Why? Because there’s a very low probability I can rely on Gogo’s service. It’s up! Oh darn, it froze. Rats, it’s still frozen. Wait! I think it’s up again! Quick! Start typing! Oh… rats.

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That Time An 11-Year-Old Spent The Night In Jail For Keeping A Foul Ball

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(This post originally appeared on Inc.)

One of the greatest thrills for any kid (and let’s face it, many adults) is catching a foul ball at a baseball game. Believe it or not, it’s not impossible. Show up at the park early enough for batting practice or beg loud enough to a player warming up before the game, between innings or in the bullpen and there’s a chance you too could get a lucky souvenir to take home.

Unless, you’re Robert Cotter.

The 11-year-old Cotter caught a foul ball one day at a Philadelphia Phillies game and, like any fan, refused to give it back – even when team officials demanded. The consequences were severe. The team had the boy arrested, not only for keeping the property but also after accusing him of sneaking in to the game without paying for his ticket. Cotter was forced to spend an entire night in jail until being freed the next day when a sympathetic judge found that it was “entirely reasonable” that a kid could keep a foul ball at a baseball game. And besides, the judge noted, he made a really good catch.

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Are There Storm Clouds Approaching For SMBs?

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(This post originally appeared on Inc.)

For months we’ve seen small and medium sized business confidence rise. Survey after survey have reported a growing optimism that has underscored increasing sales and profits for many businesses from main street merchants to industrial manufacturers. But have we reached a peak? Are there storm clouds on the horizon?

Earlier this month, the National Federation of Independent Businesses Small Business Optimism Index – while still very strong – retreated back from its 45-year high. This week Capital One’s Small Business Growth Index, a biannual survey of 500 small business owners that gauges sentiment related to the economy, business conditions and plans for growth – while at its peak – also revealed growing concerns among many SMBs. (Capital One is a client of my company, The Marks Group PC. However, I have not been compensated to write this).

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A New Study Finds That Optimistic Entrepreneurs Make Worse Decisions

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(This post originally appeared on Inc.)

Do you know one of those super-positive, happy, outgoing persons who always “looks at the bright side” and “finds a silver lining” no matter how bad things are? Annoying aren’t they?

But admit it: if you’re like me, you’re probably envious of those personality traits. Who wouldn’t be? In this world of partisan politics, social media trolls, economic uncertainties and senseless acts of violence it’s pretty easy to be negative. So when I meet someone that’s positive and optimistic I always think to myself “why can’t I be more like that guy?”

Well it turns out that those optimistic people do have a flaw. A big one actually.

According to a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Bath, Cardiff University and the London School of Economics and Political Science positive people – particularly startup business owners –  tend to make…well…lousier decisions.

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