To the class of 2011, Three helpful tips Part One

June 7, 2011 1 comment

To the class of 2011,

Congratulations! You just graduated from high school. Just a few weeks ago you were the King/Queen of the castle. You were at the top of your game and today amid all of the fanfare and pageantry you’ve flipped your tassel and guess what, now you’re one of us.

Welcome to adulthood. More or less…

Most of you will fit into two very general scenarios.

You can't afford premium coffee anymore

Scenario A; Go away to College

Scenario B; Don’t go away to college and/or work a skill or trade

I’m not here debate the merits of either path. I’m here to offer some advice on how to go down your own path as safely as possible.

You need to learn about money, quick. You spent twelve years in school and probably never really learned how to balance your check book or write a personal budget. Go the library, get on the internet or ask someone you trust to show you how. It’s better to learn this lesson before you start dealing with real money otherwise life is going to give you a big fat F in personal finance. Here are a few tips in no particular order.

  1. Pay with cash. That means if you don’t have the cash you can’t afford it. If you put it on a credit card you get an automatic F for this lesson. It might feel good to be able to buy something but the interest will kill you in the long run with this sort of thinking. Repeat credit card use over the years will not lead to wealth.
  1. Start saving and start saving now because life isn’t fair. Gas was about $1 a gallon when I graduated from high school. It was $4.04 this morning. Life isn’t fair. Life also doesn’t care if you drive over a nail and get a flat tire. Get the term “fair” right out of your head. Nothing is fair. It’s just life.
  1. Have a plan. Plan for what you say? A plan for your life. If you don’t have one life will just happen to you. Need a car? Have a plan to pay cash. Need an apartment? Have a plan to pay for it and utilities. Need an oil change? Have a plan. Need to pay for next semester plus books? Have a plan that doesn’t include a loan.

I have a crystal ball. I really do. Here’s the difference between a well thought out life and one where life just happens when you make the second largest purchase of your life at the age of 18. That purchase being; a four/five year college degree. The costs are massive.

Tomorrow I’ll use my crystal ball to tell you what happens in Scenario A and B.

Our new normal

June 6, 2011 12 comments

Ahh the good ole days!  They were great.  Just about everyone drove shiny new car, had a job that paid very well with benefits, stocks and other investments normally grew at a reasonable pace and life was easy and predictable. 

The good ole days aren’t coming back folks.  Now is the time of Our New Normal.  Brace yourself.  

Will work for silver.

For those that will wallow and be victims of the new normal, this blog is not for you.  You can’t go back in time, you probably can’t even re-create it because the conditions surrounding the good ole days are gone. 

So what’s the new normal?  The USA isn’t the THE superpower in the world anymore.  The dollar in your pocket is on par with our Canadian neighbors to the north and unemployment is going to stay about 9% for the foreseeable future just has it has for the recent past.  Also your house isn’t worth squat.  This is the new normal. 

What else is new?  College degrees are over priced and carry less and less value.  For the college graduate, what awaits them isn’t much different from what they left five years earlier, their bedroom at Mom and Pops.  But now they are burdened by a heavy debt load that they were ill prepared to handle and currently unable to afford.  You can’t sell your degree either.  That paper your degree is printed on isn’t worth the $40 to $75 grand that you financed.  Bummer.  The new normal.

For those that don’t go to college high paying manufacturing jobs are not around like they were 20 years ago.  Getting an entry-level job at the big three in Detroit pays about $14 an hour these days.  I hope you know something about computers or the internet.

So what do you do with this information?  The new normal doesn’t sound so good does it?  Ahh but all these facts I’ve laid out are just random bits of information.  People are living their dream outside of the doom and gloom news reports because when it boils right down to it we are not statistics.  We are hopes and dreams wrapped up in these terrestrial bodies and yet our energy to create is limitless and cannot be contained.  Now is the time to embrace the dreams you hold in your heart.  It’ll never be cheaper to create, hire and build your dreams as it is today.

Behold the power of the new normal.  The new normal is the internet, smart phones, twitter, interconnectedness, opportunity, low costs, low risk and the ability to build your own dreams all with just a spark of inspiration from your brain.

Are you too focused?

June 2, 2011 3 comments

Focus. What is focus? Is it the central point of all of your energy? Do you have it? Do you need it?

Can you be scatterbrained most of the time and then turn on the focus with an internal switch? I don’t know. Most successful people that I’ve come across are singularly focused on their goals. They have immediate, short, medium and long term goals. Each builds on the other. Goals coupled with focus are good to keep you on the path to where you want to be.

Over focused or just right?

Now, what if focus is bad? What if your focus blinds your vision? The only thing you can see is that small focused point on your own personal horizon but fail to see amazing opportunities along your journey?

It’s a tough balancing act. If you are personally not able to un-focus you may need to keep someone close to you that can help see the big picture for you. Too much of anything, even focus isn’t a good thing. You need to be able to take in your current situation and surrounding otherwise you might miss a fantastic opportunity.

Memorial Day 2011

May 30, 2011 3 comments

As a Veteran, Memorial Day has a special meaning to me.  I’ve had friends who have made the ultimate sacrifice and I will never forget them.  I will hold their families in a special place in my heart.

On to Fiddler's Green

I’ve mourned for them.  I’ve sat at the memorials while the First Sergeant conducted roll call only to say that final name, knowing that the only answer would be silence.  The silence is so heavy with emptiness because you want them to answer that roll call.  You listen and for a split second you just know that they have to answer.  But they don’t.

I choose to remember the fallen by living my life to honor them.  Mourning is over.  I will never forget but now is the time for living.

Categories: Leadership Tags: , ,

Keeping your confidence

May 27, 2011 2 comments

“I have the best idea in the world”.   We’ve all heard that from a close friend before. 

“This idea is going to change everything!”  Maybe you discuss the way ahead over drinks and after a few cocktails you both are worked up into a frenzy because you just know that this is going to be bigger that Apple.  The future is limitless, until you wake up the next morning with a headache. 

You can do anything!

Businesses have the potential to be a little bit like that.  You have an idea and some plans.  You chart your course and start to move forward with some saved capital (or heavens forbid, some borrowed capital) and the future is bright.  So bright in fact that you’ve convinced yourself that everything is going to be rosy.  It can’t fail.  

Then one day, three, six or eighteen months later you realize that this process is a slow grind.  Instant mega-success has eluded you.  So now what?   You keep plugging along but now the path ahead in a muddy path, not a gilded one.  Most people get stuck in the mud.   They are no longer looking forward because their eyes are fixed on their feet, all muddied.  Confidence has began to wane. 

Confidence is a funny thing.  Either you have it, or you don’t.  There isn’t much, if any, in-between.  So where did your confidence go?  At one point your idea had a lot of promise and you met that promise with unlimited energy and vigor.  As you moved ahead the big gains or massive break through didn’t materialize the way you thought it would. 

And you know what, that’s okay.  Take time to really assess your situation.  Are you stagnate or are you going backwards?  They are not the same thing.  Are you stuck working IN your business or are you working ON your business?  There is a big difference between the two.  You need to figure out which one you’re doing.

If your initial premise was sound and you’re still moving ahead, even if it is at a slow pace, keep going.  If it was going to be easy, everyone would be doing it.  They aren’t, but you are.  Good luck on your journey.

Who or what controls your time?

It's slipping away

One thousand four hundred and forty minutes.  That’s all you get today and that’s all you get tomorrow.  That’s your day. In that time you need to do a lot.  Here are some of the basics that most of us do; sleep, eat, hygiene, travel, work, interact with friends/family. 

  Read more…

I am still here!

April 22, 2011 1 comment

Have you seen him?

I did not fall off of the face of the earth.  My feet are firmly planted here on terra firma.  Since you last heard from me I’ve added a fourth child to our family.  Jack Matthew was born on April 4th.  He’s fantastic and doing great.  So is Mom!

Read more…

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