Things I’ve Learned …

November 20, 2011

The below words were sent to me by a friend.  Every bit of it is worth reading.  I especially liked opportunities, toilet paper, and climbing mountains  …  so true.

Written by Andy Rooney, a man who had the gift of saying so much with so few words:

I’ve learned…. That the best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.

I’ve learned…. That when you’re in love, it shows. I’ve learned…. That just one person saying to me, ‘You’ve made my day!’ makes my day.

I’ve learned…. That having a child fall asleep in your arms is one of the most peaceful feelings in the world.

I’ve learned…. That being kind is more important than being right.

I’ve learned…. That you should never say ‘no’ to a gift from a child.

I’ve learned…. That I can always pray for someone when I don’t have the strength to help him or her in some other way.

I’ve learned…. That no matter how serious your life requires you to be, everyone needs a friend to act goofy with.

I’ve learned…. That sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.

I’ve learned…. That simple walks with my father around the block on summer nights when I was a child did wonders for me as an adult.

I’ve learned…. That life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.

I’ve learned…. That we should be glad God doesn’t give us everything we ask for.

I’ve learned…. That money doesn’t buy class.

I’ve learned…. That it’s those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular.

I’ve learned… That under everyone’s hard shell is someone who wants to be appreciated and loved.

I’ve learned…. That to ignore the facts does not change the facts.

I’ve learned…. That when you plan to get even with someone, you are only letting that person continue to hurt you. I’ve learned…. That love, not time, heals all wounds.

I’ve learned…. That the easiest way for me to grow as a person is to surround myself with people smarter than I am.

I’ve learned…. That everyone you meet deserves to be greeted with a smile.

I’ve learned… That no one is perfect until you fall in love with them.

I’ve learned… That life is tough, but I’m tougher.

I’ve learned…. That opportunities are never lost; someone will take the ones you miss.

I’ve learned…. That when you harbor bitterness, happiness will dock elsewhere.

I’ve learned…. That I wish I could have told my Mom that I love her one more time before she passed away.

I’ve learned…. That one should keep his words both soft and tender, because tomorrow he may have to eat them.

I’ve learned…. That a smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.

I’ve learned…. That when your newly born grandchild holds your little finger in their little fist, you’re hooked for life.

I’ve learned…. That everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.

I’ve learned…. That the less time I have to work with, the more things I get done.

 

I heard Andy Rooney deliver these words.  As I read them now I could just hear that distinct Andy Rooney voice and style  as he delivered it from his desk on 60 Minutes.

 

Mike Stockwell writes this blog for his clients, friends and frankly, for his own entertainment.  Mike is the Founder of The Pacific Group – Business Advisory Services and works with owners and executives small and mid-size businesses in California and Hawaii, helping them to take their business to the next level. 

Find out more about Mike and his business at: www.TPG-BAS.com and contact him at Mike@TPG-BAS.com

 

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Common Sense … again

October 30, 2011

I’m concerned about our country.

I’m concerned …

… about the hyperbole dominating our dialogue

… that politicians right and left offer “solutions” only
when situations reach crisis levels.

… that some of the “cures” seem to be worse than the malady

… that private interests control so very much of what we
see, hear, and what happens in government.

I’m concerned that the voice of people, the interests of
the common man has been drowned out by the hyperbole; by the shouting; by the
brinksmanship

I’m concerned that the wisest of us about how to address
our own challenges is being discounted, disregarded, and has become disengaged.

I’m concerned that the very solutions we so desperately
need in America today are locked away in the heads and hearts of the average
American …who is and remains amazingly silent.

It’s time for the Average American to show up.

It’s time for the Average American to speak up.

It’s time for the Average American to find his or her
voice and take back your country.

Democracy demands it; we deserve it.

America needs it … desperately.

Mike Stockwell writes
this blog for his clients, friends and frankly, for his own entertainment.  Mike is the Founder of The Pacific Group –
Business Advisory Services and works with owners and executives small and
mid-size businesses in California and Hawaii, helping them to take their
business to the next level. 

Find out more about Mike
and his business at:
www.TPG-BAS.com and contact him at Mike@TPG-BAS.com

Note to the Reader: I wrote this for my family but felt it was worth sharing with you.

First … HAPPY BIRTHDAY ETHAN!!! (Lil’ guy turns the big -0-5 tomorrow … as opposed to one of our newest female family members who will turn the big five “O”  later this year )  I’m not able to attend Ethan’s party but it promises to be the traditional big bash that Mom does so nicely for the kids every year.  We’re gonna have a second b-day party in August when Wendy, Isaac & the kids are here.

OK … now on to the meat (no pun intended) of what I wanted to share with you. 

Put down those potatoes—unless you want to pack on the pounds!!

Slavenska and I are trying to pay attention to diet and exercise.  I’ve done a fair amount of reading and actually took some nutrition classes.  As it turns out, in Panama, compared to the U.S., a lot less attention is paid to nutrition labels and healthy eating.  So Slavenska and I spend a lot of time talking about carbs (sugars) simple and complex, fats, proteins, insulin, and on and on.  I won’t bore you with this but the information below is so different than what we’ve been taught, it’s worth sharing.

Yesterday I heard a radio segment on a recent study published by the New England Journal of Medicine, and then did a little more research.  The study concludes that it DOES matter just as much what types of foods our calories derive from as it does how many calories we eat.  Put another way, a serving of 100 calories from potatoes (even boiled potatoes) is not nearly as healthy as 100 calories from low-fat yogurt.  It’s thought that a lot of the effect comes from the glycemic load on your system (how quickly the carbohydrates (sugars) from the foods enter the blood stream and require insulin to metabolize them.  Too much, too fast causes an insulin spike which has all sorts of negative consequences over the short and long term.)  As it happens, potatoes, white breads, soft drinks w/ sugars release quickly into the blood and cause that spike to occur.  So Dad was right when he said, “All things in moderation.”  (I’m not sure he was talking about glycemic load though!)

The Bottom Line

I care about you // us and I want us around for a while.  Eating plays a large part in health over the long term.  The subjects in the study were observed for diet, exercise and other behaviors over a 20 year period.  Over each 4 year period of observation, certain foods were found to contribute to weight gain or weight loss in a larger proportion than simply the food’s measure of calories.

Things that may help you LOSE weight

Do eat: vegetables (-0.22 lb), whole grains (-0.37 lb), fruits (-0.49 lb), nuts (-0.57 lb), and yogurt (-0.82 lb)

Do exercise: physical activity (-1.76 lb across quintiles)

Do rest: sleep (more weight gain with less than 6 or more than 8 hours of sleep)

 

Things that probably cause you to GAIN weight

Consume less : potato chips (1.69 lb), potatoes (1.28 lb), sugar-sweetened beverages (1.00 lb), unprocessed red meats (0.95 lb), and processed meats (0.93 lb), alcohol use (0.41 lb per drink per day), television watching (0.31 lb per hour per day)

CLICK HERE:  To Download this radio segment

CLICK HERE:  To read the article from the Pat Morrison Page

And below is an Abstract of the paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine by Mozaffarian and colleagues

Changes in diet and lifestyle and long-term weight gain in women and men.

Mozaffarian D, Hao T, Rimm EB, Willett WC, Hu FB.

Source

Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA. dmozaffa@hsph.harvard.edu

 

Abstract

 

BACKGROUND:

Specific dietary and other lifestyle behaviors may affect the success of the straightforward-sounding strategy “eat less and exercise more” for preventing long-term weight gain.

 

METHODS:

We performed prospective investigations involving three separate cohorts that included 120,877 U.S. women and men who were free of chronic diseases and not obese at baseline, with follow-up periods from 1986 to 2006, 1991 to 2003, and 1986 to 2006. The relationships between changes in lifestyle factors and weight change were evaluated at 4-year intervals, with multivariable adjustments made for age, baseline body-mass index for each period, and all lifestyle factors simultaneously. Cohort-specific and sex-specific results were similar and were pooled with the use of an inverse-variance-weighted meta-analysis.

 

RESULTS:

Within each 4-year period, participants gained an average of 3.35 lb (5th to 95th percentile, -4.1 to 12.4). On the basis of increased daily servings of individual dietary components, 4-year weight change was most strongly associated with the intake of potato chips (1.69 lb), potatoes (1.28 lb), sugar-sweetened beverages (1.00 lb), unprocessed red meats (0.95 lb), and processed meats (0.93 lb) and was inversely associated with the intake of vegetables (-0.22 lb), whole grains (-0.37 lb), fruits (-0.49 lb), nuts (-0.57 lb), and yogurt (-0.82 lb) (P≤0.005 for each comparison). Aggregate dietary changes were associated with substantial differences in weight change (3.93 lb across quintiles of dietary change). Other lifestyle factors were also independently associated with weight change (P<0.001), including physical activity (-1.76 lb across quintiles); alcohol use (0.41 lb per drink per day), smoking (new quitters, 5.17 lb; former smokers, 0.14 lb), sleep (more weight gain with <6 or >8 hours of sleep), and television watching (0.31 lb per hour per day).

 

CONCLUSIONS:

Specific dietary and lifestyle factors are independently associated with long-term weight gain, with a substantial aggregate effect and implications for strategies to prevent obesity. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and others.)

Mike Stockwell writes this blog for his clients, friends and frankly, for his own entertainment.  Mike is the Founder of The Pacific Group – Business Advisory Services and works with owners and executives small and mid-size businesses in California and Hawaii, helping them to take their business to the next level. 

Find out more about Mike and his business at: www.TPG-BAS.com and contact him at Mike@TPG-BAS.com

 

(I wrote this Blog in September of 2010 but forgot to publish it.  And though some of my outrage has subsided … I still want you to know this. Undoubtedly there will be more to talk about when it comes to professional politicians and public servants.) 

I must warn you that I am feeling particularly spunky today.  If you cotton to professional politicians you might want to skip reading this entry.  If you are a public servant … thank you for your service.  And if by chance you are reading this AND you are a professional politician who is dishonest or you’ve forgotten whom you serve … a pox on you!  I fervently hope that there is such a thing as Karma.

OK.  So it doesn’t take long for a tiger to show its stripes, and politicians to forget who they serve.  It takes longer for a Fed Chairman to screw things up; but they’re all probably just as inevitable.  But they are minor players in this entry.  This is the story of a for real public servant, and the story of others who hold themselves out to be serving the public, but fail miserably.  I was able to glean a great deal of this from a PBS special which is footnoted below.  I also did a little of my own research lending to the veracity of the “facts” presented in the video and now here.

Brooksley Born graduated from Stanford University in the 1960’s and went on to Stanford Law School, becoming the first female to graduate at the top of her class and first female President of the Stanford Law Review.  Bill Clinton considered her for the Attorney General’s position ultimately given to Janet Reno.  Some say as a consolation prize, Brooksley Born was appointed to head the Commodities Futures Trade Commission (CFTC).  Now I was taught by a Yaley that when the President of the United States taps you on the shoulder, you step up and serve.  Though we don’t run in the same circles, I suspect that Brooksley Born must have learned that too.

As head of the CFTC she called attention to the existence of a market in Over the Counter Derivatives; in essence, risk instruments that various players on Wall Street enter into to protect themselves from unforeseen calamities.  At that time, around 1993, it was a completely unregulated $27 Trillion market operating in a “black box” environment.

Brooksley Born testified at least four times to Congress concerning the dangers of this fast growing, unregulated and highly secretive financial market.  She was concerned because the market was utilized heavily by the banking and financial services industries and involved huge “bets” by well know financial players such as Bank of America, Lehman Brothers, Bankers Trust, and Long Term Capital Markets.

In 1993 one player, Bankers Trust, was sued by a client alleging that Bankers Trust sold derivatives to the client and intentionally took advantage of the client.  That client was Procter and Gamble.  The CFTC found out about the frauds occurring in these markets because P&G filed its lawsuit against Bankers Trust alleging, among other things, millions of dollars of fraud.  With a little sniffing around, the CFTC could see that a calamity in this unregulated and secretive market had the potential to take down the entire American financial system.  Brooksley Born issued a warning and a call to action.

Not really a politician and without significant political capital, Brooksley Born had few supporters and, promoting the idea of tougher regulation provided her with some significant detractors; specifically Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin and his lieutenants, Tim Geithner and Deputy Treasury Secretary Larry Summers.

Brooksley Born got a phone call from Larry Summers who said he had 13 bankers in his office who had informed him of what the CFTC was contemplating.  Summers read her the riot act and told Born this talk of regulating the derivatives markets had to stop.  The well oiled and highly financed Washington D.C. lobby for the financial industry was up in arms.  Congressional members were inundated with calls and visits demanding that Congress get Brooksley Born off their backs.

The standing committee known as the President’s Working Group, was an influential collection of the “finest minds” to advise the president on matters economic and financial.  Members of the group headed and steered by Treasury Secretary Rubin also included Greenspan, Summers, and Arthur Leavitt, Chairman of the SEC.  By executive order, Brooksley Born was commanded to attend the meetings too.

An emergency meeting of the President’s Working Group was called to address were called together to find a way to address what was now a political hot potato … the topic of the Concept Release, the draft of the CFTC approach to regulate the derivatives markets.  Each of the titans, Rubin, Summers, Greenspan and Leavitt took their turn at trying to convince Brooksley Born to bury the Concept Release and any further contemplation by the CFTC to regulate this “dark” market of derivatives.  Born listened but would not relent.  Two weeks later Born ordered her staff to publish the Concept Release document.

At her own personal and professional peril, Brooksley Born took the steps she thought were necessary to protect the interest of the American public.   What happened next in the ensuing days, weeks, and years speaks volumes for how corrupt the highest levels of government are in Washington D.C.  Brooksley born was crucified in congressional hearings, and in the press by the powers at be in the Washington establishment.  Member of the President’s Working Group published a memo expressing “grave concerns” over the CFTC actions and warning of dire consequences that such regulation would bring. 

Rather than continue sharing facts, I will use this opportunity to express my own opinion.  And in case you are one of those titans of Washington or Wall Street, since this is my blog , we play by my rules here.  Get your own blog if you disagree! 

Now, let’s recount for a moment the titles of the people involved in this story. 

  • Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board of the United States of America,
  • Secretary of the Treasury,
  • Deputy Secretary of the Treasury,
  • Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission,
  • Senior Advisor to the President of the United States of America. 

Most notably, allthese people are feeders at the public trough; … all sworn protectors and preservers of the Constitution and, in turn, fiduciaries supposedly serving the best interest of the American people.  Yet who’s interest  did they really serve from 1993 to the summer of 1998 and beyond? 

Well, as Paul Harvey used to say, “and now …  the rest of the story.”  Excuse my French; but in 1998 the shit hit the proverbial fan.  Throughout a ridiculous number of congressional committee hearings, Greenspan, Summers, Rubin and Leavitt lobbied heavily against Born and the CFTC.  Brooksley Born was ruthlessly pummeled and then publicly eviscerated. The CFTC was rendered effete as it relates to regulation of the derivatives market.  Congress saw to that. 

Brooksley Born tendered her resignation.  Then, six weeks later, rocked by a financial crisis in Russia, Long Term Capital Markets, the hedge fund placing market bets using derivatives had leveraged $5 Billion into $1 Trillion in derivatives was on the verge of going belly up.  The meltdown which subsequently occurred in 2008 probably would have occurred ten years earlier. 

Everything that Brooksley Born had worried about … had warned Congress and the Administration about, had begun to come true.  It was only because the Fed and the Treasury forced Bank of America and a baker’s dozen of other financial institutions to pony up $400 Million each to keep LTCM solvent that the debacle did not occur in 1998.  $3.5 Billion later the crisis had been temporarily averted; Greenspan told Congress that the incident was an anomaly, and thus felt comfortable sticking its Medusian head in the sand.

Now, with Brooksley Born out of the way and the CFTC rendered powerless to regulate; both unfettered and unregulated, the derivatives market continued to grow to nearly $600 Trillion (yes … that’s right … $600 Trillion).  Then … it all hit the fan … again.  Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy.  AIG, GM, Chrysler and many of America’s biggest banks were technically, if not actually insolvent.  And the American taxpayer was about to become the victim of the one of the biggest heists ever foisted upon a population of peoples who freely, blindly and naively elect those who represent them in Washington D.C.,  …. and then pick the pockets of those who they pretend to represent.

Brooksley Born represents to me a conscientious professional who served the public well during her tenure, and who was chewed up and spit out by the politicos of D.C.  She understood who it was she was obligated to serve, and whose interest she was there to protect.  Brooksley Born was the kind of public servant we need.   Arthur Leavitt ,the SEC Chairman eventually did an about face concerning Brooksley Born, calling her, “one of the most capable, dedicated, intelligent and committed public servants that I have ever come to know.  I wish that I knew her better in Washington.  I could have done much better.  I could have made a difference.”

Formerly known as the Wizard, even Allen Greenspan, the laissez-faire Fed chair eventually in 2008 admitted to Congress that he was wrong about the markets being self correcting.   He went on to admit that regulation and enforcement is a necessity for the financial industry.

But what about the rest of the players, Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, and Tim Geithner.  They seemed to serve someone other than the people whose welfare they had been entrusted as a fiduciary.  Bob Rubin left government with a $100 Million taxpayer subsidized dowry payable to his new employer, Citibank.  No one ever said he wasn’t bright!

Both Summers and Geithner have been given places of honor at the Obama table. In my humble opinion each has failed miserably as public a servant and ought to be thanked for whatever service they have provided, patted on the butt, and allowed to go lead some hedge fund or think tank.  “Tim, Larry … thanks guys.  Now hit the road … and don’t come back!”  And if they don’t go voluntarily, there’s always the pummeling and public evisceration they so solidly endorsed and participated in for their colleague.

So I ask you now … What’s really changed?  We didn’t heed the warning …  … the financial reform legislation that was passed doesn’t really reform or correct much of anything.  Banks and financial service companies will continue to charge usurious rates to consumers, change the rules at will, and get away with … whatever they damn well please.  And naturally, they will also continue to contribute to the re-election campaigns of those who serve the interests of the financial service companies and forget about their constituents.  And professional politicians and other feeders at the public trough will continue to pick the pockets of all of us, so long as we allow them to put their own interest before their fiduciary obligation to first serve the interest of their constituents.  Sounds pretty bleak … right?

Watch for more on this later.   I have an idea!

Mike Stockwell writes this blog for his clients, friends and frankly, for his own entertainment.  Mike is the Founder of The Pacific Group – Business Advisory Services and works with owners and executives small and mid-size businesses in California and Hawaii, helping them to take their business to the next level. 

Find out more about Mike and his business at: www.TPG-BAS.com and contact him at Mike@TPG-BAS.com

For more on Brooksley Born, Link to the PBS Program: FRONTLINE — The Warning http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/warning/view/?utm_campaign=searchpage&utm_medium=videosearch&utm_source=videosearch

For more on the current economic malaise, Link to the PBS Program: FRONTLINE – Inside The Meltdown http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/meltdown/?utm_campaign=homepage&utm_medium=bigimage&utm_source=bigimage

P.S.:  I just found out that John Boehner (Do you think that’s a spray on tan or is it from some recent sunny junket 🙂 ) said the same thing recently about Tim Geithner.  Apparently Mr. Boehner and I agree. Excuse me while I go shoot myself !

This entry is for my friend, Debbie.  For over 30 years I have loved her because, like Randy, with every fiber of her being she is every bit the optimist, every bit the fighter, and every bit the loving human being.  Now engaged in the battle of her life, Debbie can use our thoughts and prayers.

Randy Pausch, the 48 year old professor from Carnegie Mellon University, became an overnight sensation when his “Last Lecture” was posted on YouTube.com.  Carnegie Mellon has a tradition to give outgoing professors an opportunity to address what they want to talk about in a last lecture to any on campus who care to attend.  Pausch, who was retiring to give all his remaining time, attention and energy to his wife Jae and their three children (6,3 and 1 ½), spoke about his life and some of the lessons he learned in  a bit more than four and a half decades.

After Randy’s “Last Lecture” many interviewers did stories on Randy and his family.  Most notable was that done by Diane Sawyer.  It delved more into the man, his past, his family, and his dreams.  Throughout the lecture and the interviews (which I have watched several times) there were priceless nuggets from Randy and from those whom he respected.  I heard and saved these for myself with the idea that I would return to them periodically, to remind me … and to “check-in” on how I’m doing.

This morning I came back to them.  They are too good to keep to myself and so now … I share them with you.

On which path to choose

“It’s better to fail spectacularly than to go down in mediocrity”

On taking risks

“You can always tell the pioneers by the arrows in their backs”

On Love

“I knew I had to wait until I found that one person whose happiness was more important to me than my own.”

On Child rearing

“When things really get tough … put on your own oxygen mask first.”

On one’s outlook on life

“You must decide where you stand … are you a Tigger or an Eyore?”

A lesson for girls everywhere about men

“When it comes to men that are romantically interested in you … just ignore everything they say and watch how they behave and what they do.”

On playing it safe

“Sometimes the only safe thing is to take a chance.”

On who to seek help from

“I’ll take an earnest person over a hip person any day of the week.”

 On lecturing

“Don’t tell people how to live their lives … just tell them stories.  They’ll figure out how it applies to them.”

 On living

“Time is all you have … and one day you may have less time than you think.”

If you appreciate these “Randy Pausch nuggets,” then you will certainly appreciate the Last Lecture and the Diane Sawyer interview/story.  The context and the way Randy tells ihis own story enrich the meaning and the impact. 

Here are links to both:

Last Lecture: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji5_MqicxSo&NR=1

Diane Sawyer Interview:

Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZbOQqtDAW0

Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDIf4D4SQFo

Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5O8FvH_k2k4

Part 4: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2HWTrDTsv0

Part 5: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSx-AB4JhvQ

It makes me feel good to share this.  Thanks for reading.  —  Michael

Mike Stockwell writes this blog for his clients, friends and frankly, for his own entertainment.  Mike is the Founder of The Pacific Group – Business Advisory Services and works with owners and executives of small and mid-size businesses in California and Hawaii, helping them to take their business to the next level.  Find out more about Mike and his practice at: www.TPG-BAS.com and contact him at Mike@TPG-BAS.com

Kidding … that’s not really me.  But it caused me to remember a few of those days kayaking alone in open water off the northwest coast of the Big Island.  I’d paddle for a while and then hop in the water to skin dive at places that looked interesting.

Nature … she has her own way of reminding us of how tiny and not in control we really are.  Go out and visit her!

(I think I’ll go play golf today!)

(Credit to Thomas P. Peschak for this outstanding photo)

Mike Stockwell writes this blog for his clients, friends and frankly, for his own entertainment. Mike is the Founder of The Pacific Group – Business Advisory Services and works with owners and executives small and mid-size businesses in California and Hawaii, helping them to take their business to the next level. Find out more about Mike and his practice at: www.TPG-BAS.com and contact him at Mike@TPG-BAS.com

From where do you derive your good news?  What do you see or read that recharges your batteries and gives you a lift out of the muck and mire of the daily news, the tabloids, the gossip magazines and TV shows that spew the negative news of the day?  A how do you think that this colors your disposition and your outlook.  Does it color your attitude, your demeanor, your performance at work?

Wait!  … don’t change anything yet!  Instead, just observe for one more day.  Allow your “silent observer” to notice what you hear and see from the media, from friends, from family and, if you can, observe your own self talk.  Just watch and listen … and be amazed at how much negative news, words, and emotions that we are exposed to and endure daily; two wars, terrorist acts, murder, kidnap, lost jobs, deficit, and the partisan politics and babble that emanates from Washington, D.C.  Once you’ve had enough, don’t despair, don’t curl up and hide, don’t shut out the world; but rather, know that antidotes to this plethora of negativity do exist.

We’ll talk about some of those antidotes soon.  But first, let’s first talk about how to lessen the toll that negativity takes on our psyche, our emotions, our disposition, and on our physical health.  Consider these few simple ways to lessen the impact of some of the negative coming your way:

  1. Be Selective … about what you watch, what you read, what you listen to and what and who you surround yourself with.
  2. Remain in Awe … of life, of grace, of nature, of human resilience, of our ability to grow and learn, and of our ability to alter the path we travel and the attitude we bring to that journey.
  3. Slow it down and step aside … recognize the overwhelming amount of negative news for what it is … a way to sell air time, newspapers, magazines and tabloids.  It is not the norm.  Turn off the bad news after you’ve heard what you needed to hear.
  4. Recognize … that there is more good that we as humans do than bad; and that, unfortunately, in our society good news is generally not news.

While this list is neither exhaustive nor complete, it may provide you with a different perspective and a few ideas about what might work for you in mitigating the negativity that we are inundated with every day. 

Mitigating the effect of negativity is a first step.  Counterbalancing it is an important next step.  Here are some proactive steps that I have found helpful in protecting me from the toxins of negativity.

  1. Start the day with some quiet time … Early morning is the perfect time to gather your thoughts, reconsider recent events, reflect and process.
  2. Read something affirming or positive … There are many enriching writings that you can lay your hands on.  Some good examples are the Bible, Daily Bread, the Tao Te Ching, or any work that is broken up into small segments, verses or poems that can be read in 5 minutes or less and then considered for another 5 minutes.
  3. Get some form of exercise every morning … even if you plan on a vigorous workout later in the day, move, stretch, walk, yoga, tai chi; treat your joints, muscles and circulatory system to some daily gentleness for 5-10 minutes every morning.  No need to break a sweat … just move.
  4. Consider the spiritual you … whatever your belief; nourish and align; come back to your center.  Whether it is reconnecting and re-engaging your spiritual self, exploring and stretching, or searching and finding that which resonates deeply with your core beliefs, integrating the spiritual you into your life can enrich relationships, improve outcomes, and change lives.
  5. Stop … observe … appreciate this moment before it is gone.  Throughout the day, allow your silent observer a voice; taking note and enjoying extraordinary, emotional, or even mundane moments as you work, as you relate to others, and as you accomplish.
  6. And I’ll finish with this … whenever you are faced with a choice to be right or to be kind… choose kindness.  Both the recipient and you will derive benefits from your choice.

As a business owner we are counted upon to lead, to be right, to make good decisions, to serve, and to move our organization in a right direction.  To the extent we can, controlling the outside forces that shape and influence our day and finding our own balance is not only wise; it is our responsibility.

Mike Stockwell writes this blog for his clients, friends and frankly, for his own entertainment.  Mike is the founder of The Pacific Group – Business Advisory Services and works with owners and executives small and mid-size businesses in California and Hawaii, helping them to bring balance back to their lives and take their business to the next level.  Find out more about Mike and his business at: www.TPG-BAS.com and contact him at Mike@TPG-BAS.com

 

Copyright © 2009-2010 by Michael Stockwell

All rights reserved.  No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, or digital, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system or search, without permission in writing from the author.

What Have We Learned Dorothy?

December 27, 2009

Note: I actually wrote this on December 20th, but with the holiday rush, neglected to publish it …  Whoops!

“Get ready for a year-end rally”

“The market is poised to move lower”

“The market has no direction.”

“Now is a lousy time to expand.”

“I know I can make this business grow … I just need to do it”

Even in these difficult times, though we may be short on capital, there never seems to be shortage of opinions about what you should (or should not) do.  Take for instance one of my clients in Hawaii who decided he wanted to expand his business.  We’ll call him Jerry.  Jerry did his homework.  It was back in 2007, I sort of forced him to prepare a plan that he could present to the bank to obtain the capital he needed to grow.

Though he didn’t like it, Jerry did exactly as I asked.  Admittedly, the plan was optimistic. The bank took a look at it.  The first answer was “We need more info.”  The second answer was “No.”  And no matter how we asked or what we showed, the answer was still “No.”

Now this is not an indictment of the Bank.  This particular Bank is known for being conservative in their lending decisions … and, truth be told, even I had my doubts about whether Jerry should be expanding at that particular time.  The good thing is, Jerry never did have a doubt; or if he did, he never let on.  In spite of the No’s he was hearing from all around him, he decided to add a store on Maui.  Shortly thereafter, when he learned a large “competitor” was folding their tent in Honolulu he added yet another store.  His sales skyrocketed and, in no time at all, his profits did too. 

There will always be naysayers and doubters; and when you’re down … expect them to bring reinforcements!  But know this.  Jerry knew with every fiber of his being that he was right.  He knew his business, his customers, and his unique niche in the marketplace.  Jerry believed in himself.  When the time came to place his bet, Jerry was “all in” and his wager paid off handsomely.

 A friend of mine (whose name is not Dorothy) muses aloud to herself as she learns life’s lessons … “OK now what have you learned Dorothy?”  … referring to the Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.  That question is particularly apropos here.  So … what have we learned Dorothy?  We’ve learned that we need to bet on ourselves and have the courage of our convictions.  It may be the best bet of all!

Mike Stockwell writes this blog for his clients, friends and frankly, for his own entertainment.  Mike is the founder of The Pacific Group – Business Advisory Services and works with owners and executives small and mid-size businesses in California and Hawaii, helping them to bring balance back to their lives and take their business to the next level.  Find out more about Mike and his business at: www.TPG-BAS.com and contact him at Mike@TPG-BAS.com

 

Copyright © 2009-2010 by Michael Stockwell

All rights reserved.  No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, or digital, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system or search, without permission in writing from the author.

Yes, I’m way overdue to write this.  I actually started but never finished a June 15th article entitled Birthdays, Bikinis, Buchwald and the 109th Bead.  I don’t remember how bikinis were germane, but I do remember that I was going to lament another birthday, and then say thank-you to syndicated columnist Art Buchwald, whose satirical articles I grew up on.  So consider yourself fortunate that you don’t have to listen to me whine about getting older … and as for thanking Mr. Buchwald … “thanks Art for a lifetime of thought provoking satire.” (The 109th bead is the “give thanks” bead on the string used by millions in meditation and prayer)

So now to the subject at hand; if you are not connected on Linked-In or some other social network, you are missing a HUGE opportunity.  Recently I experienced that power in trying to connect with someone internally at a large local company.  For the sake of preserving privacy, let’s call her “Margie” at a company called “Colossal.”  I did not know anyone within Colossal and I sue didn’t know Margie.   For business reasons, I wanted to connect with someone inside the company immediately.  Here comes Linked-In.  A search of Linked-In for Colossal produced several names, including Margie’s.  Low and behold it just so happens that Margie was acquainted with two people in my grad school class at UCI. 

I made emailed both my classmates and asked if they felt comfortable introducing me to Margie.  I learned out that one of my classmates, Angie Swartz (www.linkedin.com/in/aaswartz) is good friends with Margie.  By mid afternoon both classmates had contacted Margie. Well that’s all it took.  By the end of the day I had a 30 minute conversation with Margie and was able to learn exactly what I wanted to know about Colossal.  I now have a friend there at Colossal.

As it also turns out, my classmate Angie is somewhat of an expert on the topic of social networking.  If you take a look at her profile through the link provided above, or go directly to her company website at www.squaremartinimedia.com you’ll see that she and a colleague work with business clients to establish a web presence and take advantage of the power of social media. 

As we humans in business work hard to connect and sometimes struggle to find ways to gain access to a particular business prospect, it’s refreshing and, for me a relief, to discover the power residing within these relatively new tools as avenues to connection.  And since we’ve already explained the reference to the 109th bead, “thanks Angie,” “thanks Margie,” and “thank you Linked In.”

Mike Stockwell writes this blog for his clients, friends and frankly, for his own entertainment.  Mike is the founder of The Pacific Group – Business Advisory Services and works with owners and executives small and mid-size businesses in California and Hawaii, helping them to bring balance back to their lives and take their business to the next level.  Find out more about Mike and his business at: www.TPG-BAS.com and contact him at Mike@TPG-BAS.com

 

Copyright © 2009-2010 by Michael Stockwell

All rights reserved.  No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, or digital, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system or search, without permission in writing from the author.

Ouch! … That hurt!

May 26, 2009

I’m sitting here with my knee up after last week’s arthroscopic surgery.  (Gosh, I hope I spelled that right … you’d think that if I had it I’d at least know how to spell it!)  Anyway, don’t worry; this article is not about my maladies or whining about the recovery process.  It is, instead, a short opportunity to observe some easy parallels and associations between recovery processes.  (I dare you to read on … it may not be as boring as you think!)

1) The actual cause of my malady, years of abuse and excess wear on my knees from sports, exercise and being on the “never slender” side took its toll over time.  It was insidious, and snuck up on me.  Sure, there were plenty of warning signs and even several admonitions from experts who warned against the excesses.  But I have always been pretty healthy and was confident that I could overcome or endure just about any hardship.  So too was the degradation of the U.S. economy.   There were warning signs and warnings from experts and talking heads alike.  But we as a nation partied on as if there was no day of reckoning.  Nevertheless, the damage was being done … quietly … insidiously.

2) Last Friday I chose to be asleep while the most painful part of the correction took place.  Except for the humiliating backless surgical gown (not a pretty sight) and the intravenous line that Nurse Tutti Fettaganuchi started pre-op, the artful work of Dr. Daniel Kharazzi could have gone unnoticed, were it not for the giant bandage around my now pretty swollen knee.  Kharazzi must be good because I hobbled out of the surgicenter pretty much on my own.  I’m still not quite sure what he did in there.  He didn’t even know what he was going to do until he got in there and actually saw and understood what the situation was.  Remember back to the beginnings of TARP?  Bailout or bad asset buy-up?  Treasury changed its collective mind mid-stream.  The point here is that we don’t quite know or understand what the remedy is that is being applied; and at times neither do those doing the work until they get there.  Some of us who abhor pain or falter at the sight of our own blood even choose to sleep through the event, trusting that the appropriate corrective measures are being initiated.

3) I will learn more and see the Dr. K’s handiwork next Tuesday at my post-op appointment.  Until then, I trust that the right work was done.  And if he got it approximately right, the rest of the work is up to me.  Recovery now involves balance; keeping the insulted joint from swelling out of control using simple cooling techniques while gradually introducing mobility and eventually rebuilding strength.  (It also involves a fair amount of whining on my part.)  I must choose when, how much, and how hard to apply the cooling, the mobility and the strength exercises.  The result will have a significant influence on the nature and quality of my life, both short and long term.  Likewise, on both a micro and a macro level, economic recovery is a function of the steps that are taken individually and collectively.  I can control what steps I take, and be aware of the macro movement that occurs around me and its direction.

        ** MacroNotes

  • Last week California failed to pass remedies put forth by Sacramento to address the $21 billion shortfall in the budget.  The Governor announced his intention to layoff at least 5,000 state education workers.
  • Last week Chrysler announced the inevitable, ordering the shutdown of 789 dealers across the nation.  GM could follow with a similar order for as many as 2600 dealers.  By the time this is over nearly 20% of the nation’s auto dealers could be out of business.  According to the dealers association (NADA), these two moves alone could add 150-188,000 to the unemployment rolls.
  • Banks are about to receive (may already have) an incentive to allow borrowers to sell their home at a loss rather than go through foreclosure.  Under the plan, the U.S. taxpayers will yet again mitigate the loss that the bank will experience by sharing the cost.
  • Though the drop in housing prices seems to be slowing, and Joe Consumer is beginning to open his pocketbook (probably with an accompanying uptick in consumer sentiment), we are reminded that we have just endured a period of the worst capital spending record for businesses since 1930.  The third leg of the stool, corporate spending is down 35-40%.  Businesses don’t make decisions to shell out dough based simply on “cautious optimism.”  It will take more … much more; and without a return of the corporate spending early recovery attempts may serve to simply suck in unwary investors seeing a false bottom.  Beware!  

4) Recovery will take time.  I can have a significant effect on how I come out of this based on my awareness, my decisions, my actions and my timing.  However, I also recognize that some things that are beyond my control and what goes on in the environment around me plays a big role in where I ultimately end up.  I will do my best to avoid missteps and lousy decisions.  But I will not allow myself to be inactive or a passive participant. 

Now, I must think about my next move … cool it down or light it up?  For me, I think cool it down and reflect a bit makes sense for the moment.

Mike Stockwell writes this blog for his clients, friends and frankly, for his own entertainment.  Mike is the founder of The Pacific Group – Business Advisory Services and works with owners and executives small and mid-size businesses in California and Hawaii, helping them to bring balance back to their lives and take their business to the next level.  Find out more about Mike and his business at: www.TPG-BAS.com and contact him at Mike@TPG-BAS.com

 

Copyright © 2009-2010 by Michael Stockwell

All rights reserved.  No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, or digital, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system or search, without permission in writing from the author.