A.G. Gaston’s 10 Rules

While on a trip across country, My wife and I had the opportunity to visit the Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham Alabama.

It was heart wrenching to see both the discrimination and hatred of individual‘s due to the color of their skin. It was a sad and disgraceful time in our country’s history. Sorry to say that this type of discrimination has always been, and will most likely always will continue, due to the fallen nature of men & women. It doesn’t seem to matter the race or what part of the world it exists it is all wrong. But in spite of the circumstances there are those who prosper.

One  such example was A.G. Gaston. Arthur George Gaston born in 1892 in Alabama was one of those individuals.

Mr. Gaston’s father died while he was still an infant. He grew up in a log cabin with his mother and grandparents. A.G. Gaston’s formal education ended with the 10th grade. After WWl he went to work in the mines and according to Wikipedia while working in the mines, he decided there was a need to feed the workers and came up with the idea of selling lunches to his fellow miners and then branched into loaning money to them.

Overtime Mr. Gaston had become a wealthy businessman in spite of the discrimination and poverty that surrounded him. His success included a business college, insurance company, a home for senior citizens, a bank, savings and loan association, motel, funeral home, bottling company, construction company, two radio stations, and a boys and girls club. He was a tremendous success by any standard of measure.

What were some of the principles that Mr. Gaston practiced and live by that allowed him to ascend to this level of success?

A.G. Gaston had 10 rules for success which he followed;

  1. Pay yourself first and save a part of all you earn.
  2. Save at an established institution such as a bank or savings and loan and stay away from loan sharks.
  3. Take no chances with your money.
  4. Never borrow anything that if forced to it, you can’t pay back.
  5. Don’t get big headed with regular people. It you take care of their needs they will make you big.
  6. Don’t have so much pride and wear the same suit for a year or two. It doesn’t matter the kind of suit if there is no money in it.
  7. Find a need and fill it. Successful businesses are found on the needs of other people. Keep good books and hire the best people you can find.
  8. Never run around with people that you can’t compete with. Stay in your own class.
  9. Once you get money or a reputation for having money people will give you money.
  10. Once you reach a certain bracket it is very difficult not to make more money                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Mr. Gaston famously said, “I never went into anything with the idea of making money. I thought of doing something, and it would come up and make money. I never thought of trying to get rich” Mr. Gaston’s net worth was estimated to be more than $130 million dollars at the time of his death..

I have learned over the years that when it comes to finances that good principles are necessary to follow. No matter your background or environment, if you follow sound financial principles not only will you find a way to earn money, but you will more than likely be able to keep it.

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.

 

Christmas Day – A Day To Change Your Life

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. Luke 2:16-20 NIV

download

One birth changed the world, by bringing into this world a Savior who can save us from our sins and bring us eternal life.

This CHRISTmas don’t just celebrate the day but take the time to learn of this miraculous opportunity to change your life.

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.

New Year’s Resolution

It’s a New Year and the time so many people make some new commitments to change their LIFE.  So what can you do different than every other new commitment you have made to change your life? How about changing some associations?

I found out many years ago that I had to change the habits that got me the same place every year. Experts call it Pattern Interrupt. I had to interrupt the patterns I had formed that caused me to make the basically the same decisions year after year. One thing I did was to get some new input, from some new associations. I made some new friends that had results in life I had hoped to accomplish. How did I do it? Like many people I went to a seminar to learn new information and make some new friends, because life is like a team sport. You win and lose based on who is on your team and how they play the game.  Hey, what I was doing wasn’t giving me the results I wanted so why not change what I was doing?

It’s not too late so why not give it a shot. Do something so absolutely crazy your friends will think you lost your mind. What could possibly be so wild that is so different that your friends will think you’ve lost it? How about taking a weekend and not going to the bar or a birthday party for a child so young they will never remember and go to the LIFE Convention in Columbus Ohio Jan 27-29, 2012 (can you believe it is 2012?).

Maybe you went to a LIFE Open or Teamcast, or maybe someone shared the concept of the LIFE business. What could you possibly learn that you don’t already know about what you may have seen?

How about a different perspective on money? Maybe meet some young people who have left their jobs before the age of 25, 30, 35, 40, anyway way before having to wait until age 65 or 70? You might just learn something about yourself.

How about a change in your regular weekend routine? One thing for certain, it won’t be boring. Still uncertain, ask yourself this question; what could you possibly do that weekend that could change your life forever? This convention could. It did for us and many others. Why not for you?

Make a New Year’s Resolution, and follow the Nike quote and “just do it”!

Hello World!

I write this blog as my first to thank Orrin Woodward for his leadership and vision to launch a company called LIFE, to take the purpose of an improved life and give anyone who wishes to improve their life the opportunity to do so, along with the financial incentive to pay it forward.

As some of you who have been with TEAM know these last several years HAVE been life changing….. No I would have to say life transforming. GOD has provided us with an opportunity to go from GOOD TO GREAT and we have accepted that undertaking. Not only do I feel we now have the opportunity to accomplish so much more, but because of the challenges we have faced and the wisdom of the leaders who have come together, it has brought to me a new enthusiasm and energy for the future.

I have to share with you a book you must read. In fact it would be a great book to have any of your leaders who question any challenges we might have faced or will face, and why can we move forward with such confidence and enthusiasm.

The book is called In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day” by Mark Batterson

If you have ever traveled to Africa and seen the Lion up close and personal as they say, one of the “Big Five” and “King of the Jungle”, it will give you a much greater appreciation for what I am about to share from this book;

“Normal people run away from lions. They run as far away and as fast as they possibly can. But lion chasers are wired differently. GOD always uses our past experiences to prepare us for future opportunities. But those GOD-given opportunities often come disguised as man eating lions. And how we react when we encounter those lions will determine our destiny. We can cower in fear and run away from our greatest challenges or we can chase our God-ordained destiny by seizing the God ordained opportunity.”

Many of us in this new LIFE business myself included could live a comfortable life, but life was not meant to be lived comfortably but to have meaning. What better meaning could we have than to change our lives and the lives around us to live a better, more fulfilled life? We in America are facing a culture in decline. Around the world there is struggle and uncertainty. I believe there has never been a better time to help to improve ours and the lives of those around us. You can’t change the world by yourself, but in changing your life and then another, maybe one person at a time you can eventually change enough lives to perhaps change the world. LIFE provides opportunity to change that one life at a time.

As we face this future we can live in fear or live by faith. I choose Faith. Because as Mark Batterson wrote, “as I look back on my own life I recognize this simple truth; the greatest opportunities were not the scariest lions. Part of me wanted to play it safe, but I’ve learned that taking no risks is the greatest risk of all.

Orrin Woodward, Chris Brady, the Policy Council of TEAM and LIFE Leadership, along with their leaders have a vision to impact 1 million lives in 5 years. I look forward to this meaningful journey with these courageousLion Chasers.