Another Christmas….

Another Christmas……some can’t wait until it comes

Some can’t wait until it’s over

But now it is here….. Christmas Day

What does it all mean and why such a Celebration?

For Christians it means something different in a more personal and meaningful way than those who just know it as another Holiday…..a day off of work or school, or a day to give and receive gifts.

For some it is a day of joy, and others a day of drama, still others a day of sadness.

For some it’s football.

Whatever this day means to you…..could you pause and read a small note, a personal message.

This personal message from a friend of mine of years past, Freedom Kongvold, might help some find a reason to consider why all the “fuss” over Christmas, a day everyone in the world knows of, and many acknowledge as one of the most important days of all mankind, could be one of the most important days of your life.

Take a read and give some thought.

http://www.freedomkongvold.com/blog/christmas-2016

Want a Fair Tax System?

Why do Major Corporations and the Super Rich have the ability to pay less taxes?

Because they can!!

The government has become a special interest government and those who have the money to get deals and breaks can do so because they are big enough to afford lobbyists and lawyers who get them favors with politicians.

Why would politicians give favors to big companies?  I’ll let you decide.

For now let’s look at a solution, not only a solution to limit the favoritism but a solution that would make every Americans life easier and more fair.

Watch and comment;

What could be more fair than EVERYONE without exception paying the same percentage?

The Power of a Mentor, Good Books, Perseverance, and Toughening Up

Over the last 30+ years I have learned the power of several key principles that have molded my life. Most of what I have learned have come from the advice of good mentors. It’s interesting, that those mentors who had more than average success, had about the same advice. One was to be careful where you got your advice. The second was to read books, books from a variety of authors on a variety of subjects. The third, I learned not only from my mentors and the examples given in the books I read, but from first-hand experience around me; those who persevered… succeeded. And to persevere, I had to toughen up.

I heard a TED Talk by Tai Lopez that mirrored what I have learned. It’s interesting that the principles I learned are practiced by others in various fields of life who aspire to excellence.

Here are some excerpts from Mr. Lopez’s talk that you will find are consistent with the principles I have come to respect and apply.

Mentors
Did you know Albert Einstein had a mentor?
Every Thursday, he would have lunch with a mentor growing up.
Jay-Z, the rapper, he had a mentor.
Oprah Winfrey said she had two mentors.
Alexander, the Great, had Aristotle.
Bill Gates had Paul Allen.
Warren Buffet had Benjamin Graham.

Reading
The modern education system has turned people off from books.
You have to rewire your brain.
See a book like a friend. You read it over and over.
You come back. And just like friends, you pick a handful of them.
I recommend you find 150 books. There’s 130 million. You can’t read that many.
But 150 you can read over and over for the rest of your life.
There’s no rule, either, at how fast you have to read them.
The average American buys 17 books a year, Maybe reads one a month.
You should read at least one book a week, because remember, everybody wants the good life ,but not everybody’s willing to read to get it.
You must read more.

Perseverance
The media has tricked us.
They only show us the success at the end, but Bill Gates started at 12.
It wasn’t until 31 years old that he was a billionaire.
He said from age 20 to 30, he never took a day off. Not even one.
You must persevere,

Toughen Up
Guess what the media wants to do.
We see on average 2,000 ads a day.
They’re trying to sell you something.
Luxury comes at the cost of killing your hopes, your dreams, your ambitions.
Be humble. Persevere. Read more. Toughen up

Listen to the full TED Talk Published on Jan 15, 2015
Why I read a book a day (and why you should too): The Law of 33% – by Tai Lopez
This TED Talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences.

Small Businesses Threatened by Increasing Regulation

A friend shared an interesting article that could threaten the livelihood of small business in America. Being a small business owner for over 37 years I understand the risk, effort and opportunities that making individual business decisions involve. This decision by the National Labor Relations Board increases the risk and effort, while decreasing the opportunities for small business owners by the government having greater control of a small business while taking that control away from the individual owner.

Business owners trying to keep a clear understanding and meet the federal guidelines regarding the separation of employees from independent contractors now will have the lines muddier. This opens the door for increased liabilities regarding workers compensation, unemployment compensation, insurance liability, overtime, etc.etc.

This reminds me of the gerrymandering of election districts that political parties do to control the outcome of elections. The control of  electing our electing government officials is taken away from the individual and put in the control by the parties redistricting.

Individual liberty and the freedom to succeed or fail has been the cornerstone of entrepreneurship. It is what made America a diverse nation in the first place. People flocked to America because they wanted the freedom to control their destiny and escape the governments controlling every aspect of their lives.

After reading this interesting article how do you feel about this decision by the National Labor Relations Board?

From – Small Business Solutions – by Diana Furchgott-Roth

Under a National Labor Relations Board decision released on Thursday, the Board has dramatically expanded the numbers of “joint employers” in America. Now, employees of franchised business such as Burger King may be classified as employees of the parent company. Employees of subcontractors, such as office cleaners, may be classified as employees of the company that hires the subcontractor.

With its decision, the Board overturned a prior ruling by its regional director that employees of Leadpoint were not joint employees of Browning Ferris, a recycling plant that subcontracted operations to Leadpoint. Subcontractors and franchisees across the country had better watch out for more lawsuits and higher costs of doing business.

Last week, speaking at the Detroit Economic Club, Republican presidential candidate Senator Marco Rubio said, “The National Labor Relations Board is on the verge of declaring that David doesn’t even own his business, that he is a ‘joint employer’ with his franchisor. The likely impact is that fewer franchises will open, and costs and litigation will increase for existing ones.”

Before this decision, if a firm did not exercise authority over the employees of its subcontractors then it was not counted as an employer.  Now the NLRB is saying that if a firm just possesses the authority to control its subcontractor’s employees—even if it does not use this authority—then it is a joint employer.

The implications of this decision are immense. Millions of franchises are at risk of being told that they are joint employers with parent companies such as Jiffy Lube, Dunkin Donuts, or H & R Block.  Millions of subcontractors may find that the company that is employing them has morphed into a boss. This raises the costs of doing business, encouraging companies to reorganize or go offshore.

The Board notes, disapprovingly, that “the diversity of workplace arrangements in today’s economy has significantly expanded. The procurement of employees through staffing and subcontracting arrangements, or contingent employment, has increased steadily…”

What the Board fails to note is that franchises and subcontractors have come about as the most efficient way of providing particular services.  Franchises make it easier for people to start their own businesses, and independent contractors can move from one employer to another at will, or work for multiple employers at one time.

The Board’s ruling follows guidelines from the Labor Department  on when to classify workers as employees, who are entitled to fringe benefits, or independent contractors, who are not.  These guidelines, which became effective in July, attempt to make it more difficult for employers to hire independent contractors.  In June the Labor Department issued new proposed expanded overtime revisions that would reduce workplace flexibility for millions more workers by prohibiting time off in exchange for extra time on the job.

With the new Labor Department rulings and the National Labor Relations Board decisions, President Obama wants to move America back to the mid-20th century when people worked for one employer for most of their lives and independent contractors were less common.  The sharing economy, with Uber and Airbnb, were unimaginable.

One result of the new 21st century economy is that unionization levels have decreased. People don’t want to pay union dues and initiation fees.With the share of wage and salary workers who belong to unions declining from 20 percent in 1983 to 11 percent in 2014, unions are feeling the pinch. They lack dues to pay salaries for union bosses and give political contributions to political parties, practically all Democrats.   That is why the Board is trying to make it easier for unions to coerce workers into joining. It is far easier for a union to organize one large workplace than several small ones.

Unions are particularly interested in the fast food industry because of its rapid turnover.  On average three people per year occupy one slot at a fast food restaurant. People come for a short period of time, such as the summer, then leave. Someone else might start in the fall. If each of these three people had to join a union, the union would get three sets of initiation fees per year.  With fees at about $50 per person, that is $150 annually.

As federal and state governments have tried to expand the benefits that employers must provide, it has become more advantageous for small firms to form to avoid these mandates.  Take the Affordable Care Act, for instance.  Firms with more than 50 employees have to offer a certain level of health insurance or pay a penalty.  Firms with fewer than 50 workers are often exempt from other mandates, too. Contracting out some operations keeps the size of the firm down, along with the costs of doing business. With the new rules, watch for more companies going offshore, and the share of Americans who are employed or looking for work declining further.

The franchise model has dramatically expanded the number of small businesses in America. Congress should place a clear definition of an employer and a subcontractor in the law.  The NLRB’s decision is a travesty that Congress and the next president can and should reverse.

 

Gerrymandering a New Government

According to Wikipedia – the definition of Gerrymandering:

In the process of setting electoral districtsgerrymandering is a practice that attempts to establish a political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating district boundaries to create partisan advantaged districts. The resulting district is known as a gerrymander (/ˈɛriˌmændər/); however, that word can also refer to the process.

In an article by Douglas J. Amy Department of Politics at Mount Holyoke College he states;

Most Americans believe that who wins political races is decided on election day by the voters. But in a single-member district electoral system that is frequently not true. Who wins is often determined before voters even go to the polls – sometimes many years before. The outcome is decided by those who draw the district lines. If they decide to create a district that is 70 percent Republican, there is little chance the Democratic candidate will win. And Republican candidates will usually lose if a district is drawn so that it is predominantly Democratic. Voters go to the polls confident in the illusion that they control the fate of the candidates. But in reality they are often only participating in the last act of political play whose ending has already been written.

Which party wins the most seats may not determined by how many votes that party gets, but instead by how the district lines are drawn. 

In a recent article on February 15th 2014 in the DavidsonNews.net a community news website to share information and promote discussion about town news, events, and issues in the town of Davidson, N.C.

Former Congressional candidate and author Harry Taylor states ending gerrymandering is critical for democracy. “The state General Assembly can redistrict, or re-establish voting districts, after every 10-year census,” Taylor said in an interview. “The party in control can do whatever they want to do.”

Is there a solution?

Oliver DeMille and Orrin Woodward in their Bestselling Book LeaderShift provide a comprehensive plan with 28 specific, non-partisan constitutional and policy proposals

Other considerations;

Again Professor Amy weighs in;

Given the pernicious and clearly undemocratic results of gerrymandering, its elimination is obviously high on the list of those who believe in fair elections. But reform in this area has been slow in coming, and the problem continues to plague our political system. Some reformers have tried to challenge this practice in court, but they have been consistently unsuccessful. While the Supreme Court has said that redistricting plans can be challenged in federal court, they have consistently refused to overturn them. Strangely, while the Supreme Court has been eager to label as unconstitutional the practice of “racial gerrymandering” – the manipulation of district lines to increase the representation of minorities – it has been reluctant to criticize partisan gerrymandering even in its most blatant and undemocratic forms.

Obviously those in Politics (the Supreme Court is appointed by the highest of elected Politicians – President of the United States) have little interest in changing this long standing political maneuvering. Since Politicians have little interest in changing something that both parties want to use to ensure their candidates get or stay in office, perhaps a system where we live within those districts would be a solution to satisfy both parties, at least until the impact of “brutal reality” reveals itself.

Here is my simple proposal;

We have the technology to know who lives where and what their political philosophy is in order to create these districts, so why not have two separate forms of government to match their political philosophies. Since all politics for the most part boil down to a couple major issues; money and power, let those who believe in more government power and those who believe in less government each run their own system.

Let each party whose district they control, levy their taxes and provide services according to their plan of governing. In those districts that believe in a more liberal system of government where the government controls the economy and provides liberal benefits for their constituents let them do so. In those districts where the constituents prefer a more free market approach and personal accountability let them also tax and provide services to people in their districts. Other than those items of National concern such as providing for the general defense of the nation, etc., the districts would be self governing and self sustaining.

I believe what would happen in a fairly short period of time, would be that the debate over which system of governing is best, will not be necessary. The reality of each system to its constituents would reveal itself.

2014 – Let’s Consider Our Legacy…..Again

2014

In a post I did on January 2nd 2013 entitled Your Legacy I challenged us all to;

  1. Be thankful
  2. Change our input
  3. Determine our Legacy

If you haven’t been able to determine what you want that legacy to be for you, perhaps I can give you a perspective you may not have thought of, or some insight into a legacy beyond yourself. That is you know what legacy’s are really all about….what we did for others or what we did for mankind.

 In this excerpt of a recent article on the Legacy of 2013  by Oliver DeMille are some facts and thoughts on where America is headed. For you maybe this article can give you some ideas as to what you want your legacy to be.

During 2013 state governments in the United States passed over 40,000 new laws.

That’s not a typo. It’s 40,000 new laws — which means five times that many regulations when all the agencies of government write these laws into agency policies. It’s even more if you add the new federal laws.

Taken together, these signal a serious period of decline for America. We are a nation being overtaken by our biggest competitor (some would say future enemy) China, and simultaneously mired in skyrocketing levels of regulation.

Governments, federal and state, now seem determined to regulate and overregulate every facet of our lives — private and business. Many entrepreneurs, who were already reeling from reams of Obamacare regulations, are now facing more government red tape from every flank.

The free enterprise economy is literally under siege. Those who think this is exaggerated should try to open a significant new business in the United States. Most of the biggest entrepreneurs and corporations who have attempted this recently have decided to build in China or some other economy instead. The U.S. government has become generally hostile to business.

This is a strange reality for the land of the free and the home of the brave. Long considered the bastion of world freedom and economic opportunity, America is consistently less appealing to many businesses and investors.

The December 31, 2013 issue of USA Today summarized this overarching trend by saying that “aristocracy” is now “in” in America.

Aristocracy, really? That’s a bold statement. Yet it is increasingly true. The lower classes are more dependent on government, and the middle classes only survive by using debt. Only the upper class, the elites, are financially flourishing — and many of them rely on international investment that is growing in foreign economies.

Anyone relying on the U.S. economy right now is concerned. What will the escalating rollout of Obamacare bring? How many more government regulations will come in 2014, and how will this further weaken the economy?

The experts are finally taking notice of sharply rising levels of regulation, even if Washington isn’t.

For example, Francis Fukuyama called our time “The Great Unravelling” (The American Interest, Jan/Feb 2014) and Steven M. Teles called it “Kludgeocracy in America” (National Affairs, Fall 2013). We have become a Kludgeocracy indeed, with more business-killing regulation every week.

In The Discovery of Freedom, Rose Wilder Lane said that,

“Men in Government who imagine that they are controlling a planned economy must prevent economic progress—as, in the past, they have always done.”

What is her definition of a planned economy? Answer: modern France, Britain, and the United States. She quoted Henry Thomas Buckle, who wrote:

“In every quarter, and at every moment, the hand of government was felt. Duties on importation, and on exportation; bounties to raise up a losing trade, and taxes to pull down a remunerative one; this branch of industry forbidden, and that branch of industry encouraged; one article of commerce must not be grown because it was grown in the colonies, another article might be grown and bought, but not sold again, while a third article might be bought and sold, but not leave the country.

“Then, too, we find laws to regulate wages; laws to regulate prices; laws to regulate the interest of money…The ports swarmed with [government officials], whose sole business was to inspect nearly every process of domestic industry, to peer into every package, and tax every article…”

This was written about France, just before it lost its place as the world’s most powerful nation, and it was published as a warning to Britain, just before it lost it’s superpower status. This quote applies perfectly to America today.

Great nations in decline need innovation and entrepreneurialism, but instead they choose anti-innovation and anti-entrepreneurial regulation. It’s amazing how every nation repeats this well-known but addictive path of self-destruction.

As Lane Kenworthy argues in Foreign Affairs, opponents of bigger government “are fighting a losing battle.” In the near future, he says,

“More Americans will work in jobs with low pay, will lose a job more than once during their careers, and will reach retirement age with little savings.”

But this will be offset, he suggests, by more vacation days, less working hours each week, and more government programs that pay for many of these people’s needs.

Many of the experts agree — he U.S. economy isn’t going to boom anytime soon, but this will be balanced for investors by significant economic successes in Mexico, South Korea, Poland, Turkey, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand, among other places.

All of this adds up to an America on the verge of what Paul Kennedy called the “fall of great powers”: overreach in international affairs that spends much of the nation’s prosperity, and simultaneously too much government regulation at home — shutting down a nation’s innovative/entrepreneurial class at the same time that the government taxes and spends more and more.

This same pattern brought down the top leader status of Spain, France, Britain and the Soviet Union. Before these, it brought down Athens, Rome, and the Ottoman Empire. Unless the United States changes course, it is following this same blueprint for decline.

When historians look back on 2013, they may well see it as the tipping point to a rapid American downturn. Partisan conflicts, government spying on its own people, drastic government spending, constantly increasing regulation, the rapid rise of China — any of these could fuel real decline. Together they may be insurmountable.

But one thing stands out: In a nation desperately in need of innovation and entrepreneurial initiative, the government is handing out innovation-blocking regulations at a breakneck pace.

The good news in all this is that entrepreneurs don’t give up easily. Tenacity is part of their DNA. The future will be determined by this race between politicians (increasing regulations) and entrepreneurs (innovation and prosperity).

Whoever wins will lead the 21st Century.

Our future as a nation, as well as our children and grandchildren’s future depend on who wins. Perhaps the role you could play in helping to develop a stronger and freer America might be your legacy. So look at the last year and determine what you will do differently this year, then look beyond this year and determine when you get to the end of your life what you want your Legacy to be. Perhaps it will be one that changes the course of history for the benefit of all freedom loving people.

Be aware of the magnitude of YOUR significance and remember;

  1. Be Thankful – YOU are alive today to play a role
  2. Change YOUR Input – educate and develop yourself
  3. Determine YOUR Legacy – only YOU can

Why Do People Immigrate To America?

According to the Migration Policy Institute:

Of the 40.4 million foreign born residing in the United States in 2011, 38 percent entered the country prior to 1990, 27 percent entered between 1990 and 1999, and almost 36 percent entered in 2000 or later.

That would make the current immigration population of the United States the 33rd largest country in the world. There are 242 countries which means over 210 countries around the world are smaller than our current population of immigrants alone.

Have you ever wondered why people from other countries leave their homes, family, and the land they grew up in and risk everything to come to America? They come because America was known to the rest of the world as the land of opportunity. The great majority of Americans, approximately 290 million of us, were born here. We only know America as we see it, as an insider, so our perspective is minimal.

I have read of, heard, and spoken with countless immigrants who have shared their concern for the direction of America. The immigrants I have spoken to don’t classify themselves as Italian Americans, German Americans, Greek Americans (my ethnic heritage), or African Americans. They proudly say they are Americans! They have come to America many of them with nothing but the shirt on their backs and very few dollars. They have taken menial jobs and worked hard to save a few dollars to start a business, or go to college. Some became successful working for a company by doing what few American born workers were willing to do. They were and continue to be grateful for the opportunity to determine their own destiny.

Now, so many foreign born and American born citizens are concerned the opportunities to succeed are getting increasingly difficult due to a ever growing and intrusive government. For what purpose you might ask? Is it to make America more fair or provide more equality of opportunity? I don’t hear complaints from the many hard working immigrants (legal or not) who just appreciate the opportunity to pursue their dreams by discipline and hard work. Is there discrimination in America? Always has been, and most likely always will be. I’m sure many of the immigrants can tell us horror stories about discrimination we might find hard to believe.

One recent talk I heard I want to share, as it is a story similar to those told to me by so many immigrants who came here with a larger perspective than the almost 300 million born here. This is not a red, blue, or tea party talk. Listen to the principles that attracted this man and so many other immigrants to America. This is real perspective from someone who has lived through experiences many of us have not. I challenge you to listen with an open mind because for some of us will disagree, but maybe we haven’t lived anywhere else but in America.

Do We Need a New Definition of Austerity? Or a New Definition of Leader?

Austerity to Blame? But Where’s the Austerity? an article I first read in Forbes by Paul Roderick Gregory is a fabulous essay written that challenges the concept that governments of this world are really cutting their spending.

In economicsausterity describes policies used by governments to reduce budget deficits during adverse economic conditions according to the definition provided in Wikipedia.

Paul Gregory is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. He holds an endowed professorship in the Department of Economics at the University of Houston, Texas. Mr. Gregory is a research professor at the German Institute for Economic Research in Berlin, and is chair of the International Advisory Board of the Kiev School of Economics.

Here is Mr Gregory’s article:

Keynesian Economic thinkers complain that the world’s economies are drowning in austerity. They argue we need more government spending and stimulus, not spending cuts. Northern Europe should bail out its less-fortunate neighbors to the South so they can pay their teachers, public employees and continue generous transfers to the poor and unemployed. If not, Europe’s South will remain mired in recession. In America, Keynesians entreat the skinflint Republicans to loosen the purse strings so we can escape sub par growth. They advise Japan to spend itself out of permanent stagnation and welcome recent steps in this direction.

The stimulationists complain that they have been overwhelmed by the defeatist austerity crowd, lead by the un-neighborly Germans and the obstructionist Republicans.  If only Germany would shift its economy into high gear while transferring its tax revenues to ailing Southern Europe, and the rascally Republicans drop the sequester cuts, we would be sailing along to a healthy worldwide recovery. We don’t need spending restraint. Instead, we need stimulus, stimulus, and more stimulus to revive economic growth. We’ll deal with the growing deficits later, the stimulation crowd tells us, but we must first get our economies growing again.

The Keynesian stimulus crowd blames austerity for the world’s economic woes without bothering to examine facts.

Take the PIIGS of Europe (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain) have supposedly been devastated by cutbacks in public spending.  The official figures show that PIIGS governments embarked on massive spending sprees between 2000 and 2008. During this period, their combined general government expenditures rose from 775 billion Euros to 1.3 trillion – a 75 percent increase. Ireland had the largest percentage increase (130 percent), and Italy the smallest (40 percent). These spending binges gave public sector workers generous salaries and benefits, paid for bridges to nowhere, and financed a gold-plated transfer state. What the state gave has proven hard to take away as the riots in Southern Europe show.

Then in 2008, the financial crisis hit. No one wanted to lend to the insolvent PIIGS, and, according to the Keynesian narrative, the PIIGS were forced into extreme austerity by their miserly neighbors to the north. Instead of the stimulus they desperately needed, the PIIGS economies were wrecked by austerity.

Not so according to the official European statistics. Between the onset of the crisis in 2008 and 2011, PIIGS government spending increased by six percent from an already high plateau.  Eurostat’s projections (which make the unlikely assumption that the PIIGS will honor the fiscal discipline promised their creditors) still show the PIIGS spending more in 2014 than at the end of their spending binge in 2008.

As  Erber wryly notes: “Austerity is everywhere but in the statistics.”

The PIIGS remind me of the patient whose doctor orders him to lose weight by eating less. The patient responds by doubling his calorie intake. He later cuts back by ten percent and wonders why he is not losing weight. The PIIGS went on a spending binge from which they do not want to retreat. They then blame their problems on austerity and the lack of charity of others.

There is another message in these figures: the insolvent PIIGS cannot finance their deficits on their own in credit markets. They can keep on spending only with loans from international organizations and the European Central Bank. That PIIGS have continued to spend unabated means that their “miserly” neighbors have continued to bail them out, largely out of public sight.

So much for the scourge of austerity in Southern Europe. The facts show it simply does not exist.

Which leads us to the austerity that is supposedly underway in the United States (Remember that radical sequester that was supposed to ruin the economy?) Our figures tell exactly the same story as the PIIGS  – a binge of public spending that has not been reversed. Between 2000 and 2008, both federal and state and local spending increased by almost two thirds. Despite budget cliff hangers, sequestration, and Republican intransience (so claim the Democrats), the federal government today is spending 16 percent more than at the peak of its binge spending in 2008.  State and local governments, which cannot borrow as freely as the Feds, are spending a modest 11 percent more.

Instead of “where’s the beef?” we should ask “where’s the austerity?”

Perhaps you can show me in the chart below where the spending has been cut, because I just don’t see it.

US_National_Debt_Chart_2010

If those who control the spending of our tax dollars are going to make an effective change in the long term stability of our nation(s) they are going to need a new definition of austerity. Perhaps WE need a New Definition of Leader, because the current “leaders” of the nations of this world are doing a very poor job of leading, not just here in the United States but around the globe. When we compare ourselves to other nations and say we are doing comparatively well, reminds me of the phrase “pigs don’t know pigs stink” (not to be confused with the PIIGS Mr. Gregory speaks of in his article).

Write Your Eulogy, Then Live the Life You Want

Here is great article shared with me from a friend and fellow fly fisherman Pete Dodds. Pete found this article by Geoff Yang a Partner of Red Point Ventures on LinkedIn. Given the fact it is graduation for so many young people starting their careers and the fact there are so many still looking to make changes in their lives do to lay offs, dead end jobs or people unsatisfied with their current career path I felt this was so appropriate to share. Mr Yang explains so well what I tell others when speaking about the LIFE community and the opportunity to pursue significance and a meaningful life.

Take the time to read and think on where you are in your current journey. Breathe and give yourself a chance tolive the life you’ve always wanted”.   

There’s always so much encouragement for graduating classes. “You are the generation.” “You will change the world.” I’m sure you are and you will, but how? How will you make a difference? I’m not going to tell you how to change the world; that’s up to you.

What I am going to give you is my advice on what will help guide you to make that difference. In my 30-year post-grad career, these are the words of wisdom that helped guide me—both personally and professionally:

Life is short. As you embark on the rest of your life, consider what you want it to be like and what you want to accomplish. Pretend for a moment that rather than graduating, starting your career, and moving on toward the rest of your life, you are at the end of it. How would people remember you, as both a person and a professional? Write your eulogy now. Think about how you want to be remembered by your family, friends, and colleagues. Let this shape you.

Do something you’d do even if you didn’t get paid to do it. If you don’t, then life will end up a chore. My dad was a chemical engineer who designed large-scale process plants. I remember seeing him get up every morning and go to work, and I don’t think he passionately loved what he did. He did it because he felt it was his responsibility. Life will be more fulfilling if you do what you love.

When I was finishing my MBA, the highest paid jobs were in investment banking and consulting. They were also the jobs with the highest prestige because they tended to attract the best and the brightest. Because of this, they were alluring for many graduates—when you have been out of the job market for a couple of years racking up student loans, working for a top-tier company with a solid paycheck made sense. I knew that neither of these routes was right for me. My choice to go a different direction ended up serving me well in the long run. I’m lucky enough to have found something I love doing. Not to say that it’s not work and it’s not tiring. It is. However, I constantly think about how lucky I am to do what I do—and get paid to do it.

It’s OK to be impatient, but don’t rush things. There’s a fine line between chasing your dreams and not being willing to lay a long-term foundation for success. When I finished graduate school, I saw a few people in my class who wanted a shortcut to success. They suffered from the “get rich quick” syndrome. Early on, they took risky bets with second-rate companies in hopes of accelerating success. With very few exceptions, that strategy did not work. Unfortunately, when they wanted to return to the mainstream, they didn’t have the foundation of success upon which to build.

Take risks with smart people. It’s fine to take calculated risks with your career, but when you do, make sure you understand the risks along with the reward. Make sure you take risks with the best people you can find. It will make all the difference in the end. If you want to start a company, recognize the risks you’re taking and do a gut check about how much you believe in what you’re doing. If you passionately believe in it, then do it with your eyes wide open and surround yourself with the smartest people you can find.

There is always next year, but at some point you start running out of next years. As you move forward in your career and in life, you’ll find yourself putting things off until next year. But there are only so many next years in your life. I’ve generally never passed off an opportunity to have a great life experience—be it travel, learning how to fly or play piano, or taking courses that weren’t directly relevant to the path I was on. The more you can do to round out your life outside of work, the more fulfilled you will feel in the end.

Don’t be one-dimensional. Life is more than your career. Life is about being a responsible, interesting person, and in my opinion, one of the greatest gifts in life is having close friends. As you move forward on your journey, you’ll find good friends are few and far between. I am fond of saying that I don’t need more friends, I just need more time to spend with the friends I already have.

Best of luck in your journey—and don’t forget: The journey is its own reward.

The National Debt Crisis

American’s all seem to have some awareness that the United States is financially unstable. Many although somewhat aware, are confused as to how to solve this problem. Many are really unclear of the real issues due to the size and complexity of our government.

First, we as Americans need to understand in simple terms where we stand financially. This short video I believe describes quite clearly the current situation in easy to understand terms.

As you can see from watching this video America has a simple problem; we spend more than we bring in. Everyone should know that is not a good practice even on the smaller scale of our own homes. And if we continue on this path we could be in a similar situation as Greece. The size and impact could be even larger than Greece’s. In Greece investors lost 70% of their money but with America’s debt at 32 times that of Greece’s, investors are at risk of losing a whole lot more. This affects everyone in America.

Second we need as Leadership Guru Orrin Woodward states to “confront brutal reality”. We can no longer ignore the real problem. We must face it and deal with it.

What is that brutal reality? I thought it was spelled out simply in the video;

  1. Washington must admit the problem
  2. Explain the problem to all Americans (without blaming)
  3. We (all of us) must face the pain of fixing the problem

What will it take to deal with this problem and fix it?

The crisis of the debt will be solved not by bantering back and forth but by facing the very real problem with very real solutions. The solutions spelled out in this video seem simple and quite clear. Congress and Washington certainly have an abundance of talent as many of these individuals are educated at some of the best colleges and universities in America. Certainly education is not the challenge. Experience should not be the issue as we have been facing some of these same issues for years, and when you break it down in simple terms they are not that complicated. What then is the problem and how can we solve it? I believe those in politics know what the problem is and lack the courage to solve it. It is much easier to blame each other and then confuse American’s by complicating the data.

That leaves the third step. We as Americans need to have leaders in our Nation’s Capitol that can be accountable. We need to expect someone in Washington to have the Courage of Leadership. We need to demand that someone who steps up, put the politics aside and put the Nation and its people first.

How?

Be knowledgeable – Get involved and Vote

Contact your Federal, State, and Local Representatives and expect them to be accountable

Let your voice be heard.

If we are to succeed to be a great nation once again, we need to put the special interests aside and do as Abraham Lincoln said, “to be a nation of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

Just a comment after watching this video again.  –  Notice that what the federal government classifies as mandatory programs have taken the Constitution’s Article 1 Section 8 and redefined general welfare. The federal government has interpreted providing for the general welfare to include areas of life that were once considered personal responsibilities. It seems it has literally taken personal responsibility out of the equation. Providing for ones personal retirement and ones personal healthcare has now become a mandatory responsibility of the federal government. I don’t believe the framers of the Constitution meant such a broad definition of general welfare to include those responsibilities that should be left to the individual.