Tag Archive for sales

3: PHP

After learning about SQL and regular expressions I was still limited to working within a text editor and query browser.  For the most part that was okay – as long as anyone I wanted to share information was sitting with me at my desk.

As business manager I had to keep selling at all times.  To the sales department, key clients, R&D and my bosses.

An internal marketing department had recently formed and they graciously provided us space to build product-specific web pages.  They didn’t have the resources to help us build or maintain sites so for the most part they were used as FAQ pages.

I had already been bitten by the programming bug and wanted to extend my reach from query browser to web browser.

It’s hard to avoid the fact that PHP is the most common language used to move data from server to browser.  It also goes hand-in-hand with MySQL.  I was ahead of the curve in the sense that I already knew what to Google.

By no means am I an expert PHP programmer.  The first tasks I learned to perform with it were:

  • Connect to a database
  • Query the database
  • Loop through the results
  • Insert lines into an HTML table

A couple of years ago I was intrigued by Google’s Natural Language Toolkit (NLTK).  Since it was written as a Python add-in I figured Python was the only language suitable for parsing text into data.  I was excited to be at the point where I might at least understand a bit of the pattern matching magic our R&D department was performing.  I liked Python because it had it’s own console (IDLE) which made it easy to noodle around with.  The whole hashbang (#!) thing seemed cool and edgy but I suspected I wasn’t using it properly.  I really didn’t need NLTK anyway.  It would be interesting to use it for sentiment analysis but for me identifying regular expressions was good enough.

I wrote a script that loaded a plain text 13F filing from the SECs website and parsed it.  company name, address, date, security and holdings were all easy enough to extract with regex and I thought I needed Python for that.

The easiest way for me to pass data from Python to PHP was for Python to create xml tags and write the results to a document and then have PHP read the document.  There had to be a better way.

I wasn’t giving php enough credit.  It turns out that I could do the whole thing in PHP.  Extracting the data, formatting it as xml, loading the xml into MySQL and querying it back as an array could all be done in one .php file.  Once the results are written into HTML table cells you have yourself a table.  But the table just sits there.  You can’t sort, filter or analyze it.

This site you’re reading now is WordPress, which uses PHP and MySQL extensively.


Download the PDF file .


When my job executing orders for a discount broker moved to Atlanta, I decided to move toward the IT side of the financial services industry.

I worked for over 20 years at Bloomberg L.P. in various capacities.  All of them were somewhat sales oriented.  Even as a business manager I realized that in order to get salespeople to sell my product I had to sell them first.  Also, in order to build a decent product I had to learn – in depth where potential clients’ pain points were.  Gaining that insight seems to be a trait of most successful salespeople.

Managing a product or a business in an IT related field means relying on technologists to actually build it.  In the highly matrixed environment of companies like Bloomberg that meant I had to sell the R&D department on why they should give their best efforts to build the products I was responsible for.

I’ll never be as skilled a programmer as the professionals but to sell them I tried to learn their pain points by teaching myself some programming.  Not heavy-duty compiled languages but the lightweight web server variety.
I have always worked for companies with matrixed structures.  It promotes communication and empathy between different skill-sets while ensuring that each team member is in a reporting line that appreciates their value and understands the challenges they face.

Market data is a thin description of what companies like Factset, Capital IQ, Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters provide.  Being involved in analytics requires that one has to understand the data behind them.  Since most data is reported as news before being formatted for use in analytics the three elements (news, data and analytics) are closely connected.

Steve Jobs made a great commencement address back at Stanford in 2005.  He talked about looking back on what you’ve done so far and being able to connect the dots.  I like to think of my professional self as a curious person and when I look back I’ve done a bunch of different things but the dots have connected pretty nicely.



Business management professional who has been responsible for developing multiple highly successful products and processes that promote efficient workflow and information transparency for institutional investors.

Programming and long distance hiking are my current pastimes.

Learning to code is especially interesting if it’s combined with something else that’s interesting.  Thanks to APIs like Google Maps API and Open Layers, even long distance hiking can be a programming project.

Being a novice programmer and a novice at long distance hiking makes me want to go deeper into each of them. I enjoy being a novice.  Life is most interesting when I’m discovering new things.

There are some pastimes I’ve always been interested in and probably always will be; like watching Mets games and ancient history. I’m also the Connecticut state record holder in the egg-toss.  201 feet!