Thanksgiving

November 24, 2011 Comments off

The more things change the more they stay the same. As the pace of life seemingly speeds up every year (due to responsibility, work demands,  technology etc.), I’m reminded that it becomes even MORE important that we keep the all important Thanksgiving holiday on our calendar. I like to consider myself a thankful person, but every year at this time I’m grateful for the time out to recognize our blessings.

I’m thankful for lifestyle

Today I am thankful that life IS good. Currently many people are occupying Wall street and other places across the country. I understand it is human nature to always want more. I also respect that there are some who are truly facing tough times right now. Just remember that America’s 99% IS the 1% on a global scale.

I’m thankful for the workplace

Wether you have a business or a job, be thankful for the chance at enterprise. It is the real world application of your skills that effect your personal growth. Be thankful for your customers, without whom there would be no business. If you are a boss in any capacity, be thankful for your people,  the ones who help make you successful.

Most of all I’m thankful for family and friends

It’s said “What good is it for a man to gain the world if he loses his soul?” You could just as easily replace soul with family and friends. To me life would be fruitless no matter how wealthy one is without friends and family. We should all slow down to truly be thankful for those in our lives. I have found the more genuinely grateful I am about a given relationship, the better I can contribute to it.

This holiday, take a time out to reflect. Make a point to show your thankfulness in word and action. Keep things in perspective and try to remember, the best things in life can’t be bought on a Black Friday sale (though there IS plenty of things at a Black Friday sale to be thankful for).

Categories: Lifestyle Tags: ,

Father’s Day

June 19, 2011 2 comments

My kids asked my wife and I “How come there’s no Kids Day like there is a Father’s Day and Mother’s Day?”

My answer was that every day is Kids Day! Kids have parents who work to provide for them! Kids have no real cares of responsibility (ok, school work, I will give him that)! Kids get to spend nearly every hour watching TV and playing! Parents on the other hand, they get just one day a year.

Fathers, this is your day!  Enjoy it while lasts.  But as you enjoy it, may you reflect on the meaning of what fatherhood is all about.

Yes, children are wonderful when you’re lying on the couch and can’t reach the remote control.   Yes it is fantastic when they are at the age in which you can bribe them to do your chores for a mere nickel (watch out though , the rates increase with age). However I have found that one of the greatest things about being a father is the privilege of raising a human being.  To teach them the ways of life in regard to sophistication , financial skills , relational skills , good judgment, goal setting and values.

Many of us have aspirations to be famous or to influence a great number of people.  It dawned on me some point years ago while still a fairly new father that it is infinitely better to  positively influence your  own child or children than to influence thousands or even millions of strangers.

May today also remind of each of us that it is not enought just to be “father.” We must also strive to become “Dad.” There is a difference! Yes, a father provides, teaches and disciplines. But it is Dad who is fun and connects with his children without judgement.

Finally, make sure you express your appreciation to your father. I know most people get that, after all that’s the whole purpose of the holiday. But I would encourage the many people who have strained relationships with their fathers to consider reaching out to them. Don’t put off making amends. After all, love them or hate them, if it wasn’t for them you wouldn’t even have a shot at this thing called life.

A Father’s Love

A father is respected because
      he gives his children leadership…
      appreciated because
      he gives his children care…
      valued because
      he gives his children time…
      loved because
      he gives his children the one thing
      they treasure most – himself.

How are you?

June 12, 2011 Comments off

How many times a day are you asked this question? How many times a day do you ask somebody this question? How often is this question answered with something other than “okay” or “good?”

Personally I like to have some fun with this social formality. You can do so too. The next time you’re asked this question, at a basic level switch the typical response of “good” to “outstanding”  or “amazing.” Merely doing this alone will almost cause a double take from your inquisitor.

Once you’re comfortable doing that, take it to the next level with creative and positive responses like . . .

“If I were doing any better they would lock me up and throw away the key!”

“I’m doing so great if I were electricity I could power the eastern seaboard for a decade!”

“If I were currency I could pay off the national debt. Twice.”

“I’m putting the fun in dysfunctional.”

“I’m a living legend. If you don’t believe me, ask me.”

“I’m doing so good Oprah calls me for advice.”

See if you can’t come up with some unusual answers to this usual question. Doing so will put you and the other person in a better mood.

Live like James Bond

February 27, 2011 Comments off

Bond. James . . . Bond.

Here are 20 rules to aspire towards from movie director Paul Kyriazi’s James Bond Lifestyle Seminar. I’m still working on #1. In fact this past week I had to put a box of Girl Scout cookies on lay away because I only had $3 on me and they didn’t take plastic.
 
1 – I never run out of cash.
2 – I accomplish, learn, give, and enjoy something every day.
3 – My base of operations is always clean and organized.
4 – For challenges I improvise, adapt and overcome.
5 – I dress up, even at home alone.
6 – I eat vegetables, fruit, drink water, exercise, and sleep.
7 – I carry enough cash and credit to operate efficiently.
8 – I chose my contacts carefully and avoid villains.
9 – I never give up, but I can change directions.
10 – I’m not afraid to pay for what I want.
11 – I get good value for my time and money.
12 – I circulate all things good. The bad stops with me.
13 – Everyone I meet benefits from the experience.
14 – I am always early for meetings.
15 – I edit out negative verbalization.
16 – On the job I am always professional.
17 – I am constantly learning by reading a book a week.
18 – I tip freely like Bond.
19 – My car is clean, filled up, and ready to go.
20 – I rent what I need and take mental possession of it.

What will you do with your tax return?

February 7, 2011 Comments off

It’s that time of year again when people all across America are anxiously awaiting their tax refunds. Some people are so impatient for it they’re willing to pay a large chunk of it just to get it sooner!

Next to being shot at and missed, nothing is really quite as satisfying as an income tax refund.  ~F.J. Raymond

According to IRS.gov, in 2008 the average individual refund amount was $2,902. That’s a good chunk of change by anybody’s standards. For many, as soon as they receive it they begin thinking of all the fun they can have or the things they can buy. But may I suggest before you spend it without much thought (possibly before it’s even in your hands) that you think twice about the best way to use your windfall from Uncle Sam.

Consider the 50-50 rule of newfound money

This philosophy is for those of us who wish to balance planning for future financial freedom while at the same time enjoying today. Whenever you receive a bonus, monetary gift, a raise or even a tax refund, you have in your hands new money that you previously were not spending. At this point you can’t even use the excuse of needing it to cover your current standard of living (well, you could, but if that’s the case there are bigger problems at hand than what to do with your tax refund) . With this money in hand, decide to use 50% to invest or pay down debt and spend the other 50% as you wish.

Now if you’re in dire straits in regards to debt, you may find it prudent to use even more of your tax return to pay down debt (yes, discipline is key). If that is the case (and I’ve been there), let that spur you on to a new way of thinking so that future income needn’t be lost to lenders.

Perhaps today you are financially sound. You could just as easily invest a larger portion if not all of your tax return. Remember, a dollar spent today is just that, a dollar. A dollar invested for the future is multiplied.

The reality of your tax return

Talk to a financially wise person and he will likely tell you that a large tax refund is not necessarily a good thing. In reality, the money you received in the form of a tax refund is money you overpaid in taxes during the prior year. The government merely held on to your money in their bank account collecting interest for their benefit. That’s why it’s called a tax refund, not a bonus!

Wealth conscious people prefer to get no refund. Why is this? Because they understand that by not overpaying in taxes their money will have been in their own bank account all year long collecting interest for themselves.

Collecting more taxes than is absolutely necessary is legalized robbery.  ~Calvin Coolidge

For future planning, consider consulting a tax advisor to determine exactly how much taxes you should set up to come out of your paycheck.

So, when you receive that wonderful tax refund check this year, ask “how can I use at least half of this to improve my financial health?’ But . . . have some fun too!

Three reasons you get paid for your work

September 16, 2010 Comments off

Have you ever given thought to why you get paid for your work? I’m not talking about the specific tasks you do, but rather the purpose of your work in a general sense. At a high level, there are three reasons for any job being created or any service being paid for.

#1 We get paid to solve problems

The purpose of many jobs is to solve problems. We may talk in terms of filling a need, but a need is really a problem. In order to sell product a grocery store faces the problem of needing the shelves stocked. The clerk who stocks the shelves solves the problem and gets paid. It’s important to understand that if you wish to get paid more money then you should learn to solve bigger problems. Stocking the grocery shelves is a minor problem easily solved therefore it earns a modest pay. Contrast that with the problems that a brain surgeon must solve. Obviously if you’re having to see a brain surgeon you have a really big problem. The brain surgeon gets paid really big money to solve it for you.

When I first learned that solving problems equals earning money, suddenly I had a new outlook towards them. I learned to equate solving problems with bringing value. Problems are inevitable. People want to do business with those who are capable of solving them.

Leaders are problem solvers by talent and temperament, and by choice.-Harlan Cleveland

#2 We get paid to avoid problems

A dentist gives his patients routine cleanings to avoid the problem of cavities. A professional accountant is paid to help her client avoid tax problems or bankruptcy. When a house owner pays a company to install an alarm service it is to avoid the problem of being burglarized. For many people, much of their work is proactive activities designed to avoid problems. The bigger the problems avoided the bigger the pay.

The act of avoiding problems is perhaps the most thankless element of work. Yet imagine an amusement park without maintenance men or a new housing development without building inspectors. With most business it is only in the absence of major problems that we can spend our time focusing on opportunity.

#3 We get paid to create growth

Financial advisors make their money by growing their client’s investments. A major part of the business manager’s work is to grow profits. In many industries it is the salespeople who are the highest paid people in the company. The commissioned salesperson’s compensation increases relative to the growth they create through selling her company’s product. Take a look at most companies’ bonus plans and you’ll find they reward the growth of sales and/or profits.

Personally, I feel of the three reasons we get paid for our work, creating growth is the most rewarding. It’s like a payoff for your labor. Create much growth on your job or in your business and you will create much growth for youself in the process.

Don’t wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Weak men wait for opportunities; strong men make them.-Orison Swett Marden

If you reflect on your work, you will find that your responsibilities fall under one or more of these categories. Understanding this and considering how you approach your work can go a long way in increasing your reward.

Attitude’s effect on your success

August 28, 2010 Comments off

The role attitude plays in our lives is major! So it is important to understand what attitude really is. When broken down, that which people perceive as our attitude is in reality the sum total of our behaviors. Behaviors are visible. They come in the form of facial and body language, the words we use, the tone of our words, and our actions. When you hear someone say of someone else “he has a positive attitude,” they have come to that conclusion based on the person’s behaviors.

Here are some examples of behaviors that can lead people to the conclusion of whether your attitude is positive or negative.

  • frequent smiling vs. never smiling
  • eye contact vs. rolling eyes
  • learning from set backs vs. brooding over them
  • a focus on future improvement vs. past failures
  • showing appreciation vs not
  • saying yes to reasonable coworker requests vs. saying no
  • staying late when asked on occasion vs. not
  • suggesting solutions to problems vs. complaining about them
  • saying I can do that vs. I can’t do that
  • Attitude and personality are as important as experience and ability.-Brian Tracy

Most good bosses recognize that ability is much easier to teach than attitude. I would go so far as to say that someone who has what we would call a positive attitude is someone who will improve their ability where needed much faster than somebody who does not a have positive attitude. Since what we call attitude is really behaviors, in a sense it can be tought. Yet it is in large part an individual’s philosophy and internal decision-making that determines improvement in attitude. Therefore teaching someone how to improve their attitude is much different from teaching somebody how to drive a vehicle.

I’ve seen numerous examples of people who have the right credentials, experience and skills, in other words the right ability,  be overlooked for jobs or promotion because they didn’t bring the right attitude. Don’t get me wrong, results are still the name of the game. But the role a positive attitude plays in our success is major. The typical interview process is evidence of this. For all the talk of focusing on a interviewee’s past track record, if in the interview process the interviewer concludes rightly or wrongly that they have a bad attitude towards work or people there is likely zero chance they will get hired.

Attitude is not only important when getting your foot in the door. It is important all the time. Especially in business. The number one reason that employees quit a job is because of a bad boss. Essentially they come to the conclusion that the boss had a disrespectful attitude towards them. The number one reason why customers stop coming to a business is because they perceive the staff as being rude or inconsiderate. They have concluded that the business has a poor attitude towards customer service.

Winston Churchill said attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. I agree. To drive this home, consider how Chuck Swindoll expounded on this idea.

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company, a church, a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you. We are in charge of our attitudes.-Charles Swindoll

Ability matters. But never underestimate the importance of having the right attitude! And never forget, your attitude is yours. You are in absolute control of it. It is the one thing nobody can ever take from you!  

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