This is decidedly not going to be my most positive post. I do try to retain a positive, yet critical (as in, fact-based) perspective when I write here, and I also attempt to keep my emotions, but not my opinions, out of my posts. Although, at times, I think that hinders me more than it helps me. Regardless, this post is frankly about to be ‘some feelings,’ and if you prefer my relatively even toned articles, you may not find this one to your liking. If this is you, I apologize in advance, and advise you to please visit again in the future.
For those remaining, please enjoy.
I was recently deceived by someone online, shocking, I’m sure. What upset me the most is that, intrinsically, I harbor a strong desire to help people in any way I can. This person took advantage of my trusting nature. There have been countless people who email me asking what a certain item is (style/ color name), or to authenticate an item. It has been suggested to me, certainly for the latter, that I begin charging for my services. This is not something I intend to do. I perform authentications, and spend (literally) hours scouring Google to help someone identify their item, because I really do hate “fakes” and I really did start writing this blog so that I could help people. Even if it is with something as ostensibly frivolous as Lululemon.
So, when a reader writes to me, I always respond. There are two scenarios I want to describe for you. One is the right way, the honest, moral way to present yourself online, and ask for a favor, and the other is the wrong way, which actually resulted in a less favorable outcome for the person, although I’m sure he doesn’t know it.
In the first scenario, the analyst, Analyst A, let’s call him, emailed me asking for information about Lululemon. He asked a lot of questions, all about Lululemon’s financial performance, and my thoughts regarding the future of the company. But before he asked me the questions, he identified himself as an analyst and asked me if I worked for Lululemon, because, he informed me, “I can’t talk to you if you work for Lululemon, because of insider trading laws.” I said, “Don’t worry, I don’t work for Lululemon, let’s chat!” I proceeded to answer his questions to the best of my ability and was able to point him in the direction of many of the articles I wrote that pertained to his inquiry.
In the second scenario, Analyst B, let’s call him, did not disclose that he was an analyst. Not only did he not disclose this fact, when I directly asked him, he said that he was a student working on a project. A Google search following the entire conversation revealed that he works as an analyst, for a private equity fund. I only thought to Google after the entirety of the communication (all emails) had taken place, because I thought that perhaps he was an analyst because he asked primarily about financial data, the “popularity” (market share), prices and how much people are buying versus other brands. What made me even more suspicious, was after the fact, discovering the whole debacle about Lulu’s stock price having collapsed. It lost nearly 20% that day! No wonder this analyst was contacting me, looking for stock tips. However, at the time, I still believed that this person was a student. Well, I was concerned that this “student” had emailed me with questions from their professor when they really should have been doing the research themselves. So, I directed, who I thought was a student, to resources fit for a student. I told him to check SEC filings, and provided links to finance websites.
Analyst B was not satisfied with these sources. Resources perfectly suitable to be quoted for research projects were not what Analyst B wanted. He kept asking for my “opinion.” However, I didn’t think it would be right for me to inject my opinion into what I “knew” was an academic paper. What this person doesn’t know is that I would happily have provided my opinion, if I had known that an opinion was appropriate. It is not appropriate for a student to cite “Lululemon Expert’s personal opinion” in their research paper, when they could be citing Lululemon’s own SEC filings, which is where I directed the “student.” It is, however, perfectly suitable for a stock analyst to make trades based on expert’s opinion! If I had known that this person was an analyst, I may have provided my opinion. Instead, I thought that they were a student- attempting to obtain academic sources!
This brings us to the next point: Did you notice the part in the story about Analyst A, where he disclosed that he was an analyst and that it would be illegal to use information gained from someone who works at Lululemon? Well, unfortunately, Analyst B didn’t care enough about insider trading regulations to ask me whether I worked at Lululemon or not. Except for the above statement (“let’s chat!”) in this very post, I have never explicitly state in my blog that I don’t work for Lululemon. Not that Analyst B cares.
At the end of the day, I am happy that I directed Analyst B towards publically available documents. However, I am saddened that someone has lied to me. I directly asked whether he was an analyst, and he lied. It’s especially disconcerting due to the potential for legal repercussions on the part of the person who attempted to deceptively gain information, had I been a Lululemon employee.
My many thanks go out to Analyst A, I think I’ll share this article with him. To Analyst B, please do yourself a favor and do not misrepresent yourself in the future.