Walk the talk

Previously posted June 7, 2016

This post has been ruminating in my head for some time now, and today is the perfect day to turn it loose.

It occurred to me a while back that I both read and write a lot about self-improvement, productivity, and generally trying to be better every day.  The issue is not the reading and writing about the topic (as it is clearly worthy), the issue is the lack of action following the reading and writing.  I have been talking about losing 30 pounds for roughly six months and have managed to shed about three.  Basically we’re talking some serious self-help nerd thought porn here.  Could that be a hashtag?  Oh yeah.

So why is today the day for this post?  One of my virtual mentors, Ramit Sethi, beat me to the punch.  Not that he suffers from the same lack-of-actionitis, but because he called out all of us who do.

His post is interesting because he nails down why many of us fail to get anywhere on what we really want to do.  There are any number of psychological or emotional rationalizations, but the short version is lack of action.  Any meaningful action has been delayed by more planning, more learning, more excuses.  The quote that hit home for me is “I would rather read – and apply – one book, than sit comfortably by a fireplace and read 20.”  There’s no need to read every book you can get your hands on relating to productivity, or weight loss, or any self-improvement, if you don’t implement what you learn.  Even if the material is not the best, putting it into action will move you forward.  It will not only allow you to exercise the discipline needed, but will give you a chance to change course as you go (if the plan is not working).

Also, I love the not-so-subtle challenge thrown out about how each of us has the innate potential to do 10X more than we currently do.  I love reading, so I’m going to have to get faster at it.  More important, I commit to putting these ideas to work.

How about you?

Revitalization

Previously posted May 13, 2016

The other day I attended a groundbreaking for a new hotel that will be built in Coralville, IA.  As is typical of these events, there was a lot of excitement and speeches about how this is a great project and how everyone working on it is top notch.  After a while it gets a little tiring, but there was one speaker who went a bit further when talking about why this particular hotel is a good investment.  He pointed out that the area was not terribly developed and that adding this hotel was one step in helping to revitalize the surrounding community.  This could all be written off as blowing smoke, but there is a great deal of truth to this revitalization idea.

The perfect example of this will be on display in the next three weeks.  Each year the Iowa City Area Remodelers Council and willing homeowners open up projects to be displayed for the public to walk through.  This tour is part of the Parade of Homes and will take place on June 4th and 5th this year.

I wrote about the Parade roughly one year ago (has it been that long!?!) and I feel the same way today as I did back then.  These projects are inspiring on many levels and you just need to walk through them to understand.  Room by room, home by home, neighborhoods and communities can be revitalized, if just a little care is put into the process.

Of course it all starts with the individual (as it always does), so remember to think like a Remodeler in your own life.  Don’t settle for the worn out drywall stifling your relationships, or the 1970s bathroom decor of the uninspiring job, or the tiny kitchen that has created an extra 30 pounds making you miserable.

Coralville will be getting a new hotel in the coming year, the Remodelers continue to create/transform great things in the area, and we can all make these great and needed changes in our own lives.  Start now.

Legends never die

Previously posted April 22, 2016

The artist formerly known as, then known again as, Prince died the other day at 57 years old.  May he rest in peace.  There are plenty of articles and posts out there about how he may have died, but I haven’t read any of it.  Part of me is just not interested, but another knows that the ‘how’ is unimportant.  We all meet our end at some point.  While some of us burn out way too soon and others may have already celebrated their centennial, the fact remains that we all end up back in the ground.

This line of thinking sparks memories of two separate movie moments.  Used to watch a lot of movies, which may have to be a future post.  Do you have trouble keeping your mind on one thing at a time?  Am I the only one?  I would prefer not to take any drugs, but occasionally I think one of the ADHD meds might be useful.

Anyway, the movie moments.

Every man dies, not every man really lives

Heroes get remembered, but legends never die

Both of these may seem a bit cheesy, but the films are classics and the sentiment is real.  I did not know Prince as a person, but I would argue he reached “legendary” status and he really lived.  God bless him.  Do we need to become rock gods in order to make this happen?  Of course not.  The idea is to focus on today, and conquer your fear.  Maybe more on that in the future, too.

For now, let’s take the afternoon off.

Paralyzing Perfection

Previously posted February 27, 2016

Credit where it’s due, this title was borrowed from one of my mentors, Rabbi Daniel Lapin.

The particular lesson he delivered regarding ‘paralyzing perfection’ was over an hour long and had significantly more depth than what I’ll be going into here.  It’s Saturday night, after all.

The very base level gist of what Rabbi Lapin was speaking about during that lesson was that each of us must embrace our humanity.  Our imperfections.  Embrace all of that because we can never match the power of what brought us here.  Clearly the Rabbi had a particular power in mind, but this message rings true even for those who choose not to believe.

Deep down we crave this level of excellence, this level of perfection.  It impacts us in varying ways (procrastination, obsessiveness, being a workaholic, etc.), but the key is to recognize it and master these feelings ourselves.  How can this be done?  Accept our imperfections and embrace the possibility of constant improvement.

We can get better every day.  We just need to accept that there will always be something more to strive for, that we will never reach the pinnacle.  And that we are not expected to.  It’s humbling and empowering all at the same time.  Keep up the fight.

Be like Chick-Fil-A

Previously posted February 25, 2017

Today the school district held parent/teacher conferences so students had the day off.  Because I dream about being back in school occasionally (in order to take all of the days off), I decided to take the morning off as well.  Should do this more often.  Anyway, Nolan and I made our way to the mall and found ourselves at Chick-Fil-A.

I could go on and on about how I love this restaurant chain for numerous reasons, but this is going to be short and sweet.  The people make the company.  And they do a great job finding the right people, then training them to act the right way.  What inspired this thought and this post is simple, but sadly uncommon.  The young lady who helped us delivered our food and then some ketchup (for the nine year old ketchup addict).  Both times we said ‘thank you’ and the response was ‘my pleasure’.  Why is this a big deal?  Why does ‘my pleasure’ stand out?  Because it is not ‘no problem’, which seems to be the default response when dealing with most service providers.

‘No problem’ indicates that whatever the person did to serve you was above and beyond their role, but it didn’t cause them too much trouble to accommodate you.  You demanding wretch.  ‘My pleasure’, on the other hand, says something totally different.  The message is that the person is happy to be serving and making you happy is their primary goal.  Based on other experiences with Chick-Fil-A, I have to believe the organization not only trains employees to say this, they ensure each employee realizes what it means.  After all, the best way to get what you want is to ensure others have what they want (or need).

If you have a business, or if you are just the business of YOU, consider how you respond to people you have served.  The more you appreciate those you are serving, the more you will feel ‘my pleasure’ is appropriate.  And the quicker you will find that you have what you really want.

Time to get lucky

Previously posted November 13, 2015

Today is Friday the 13th and some people out there (possibly you) will not be comfortable until a beautiful Saturday is upon us. Why is this? Where does this seemingly irrational fear come from? Before we discuss that, let’s just admit there is a full spectrum of belief about this particular day. Some, as mentioned, just don’t feel right. Others are flat out terrified. Then there is a smaller group that laughs the whole thing off. What’s important to realize is that the group who thinks nothing of this day is the vast minority. More on that shortly.

Triskaidekaphobia is the medical term for this fear, but the fear itself is rooted in ancient history. The number 13 has a bad track record in ancient history and the spirit lives on today with buildings skipping the 13th floor, airports omitting gate 13, and no room 13 in most hospitals or hotels. The following are some sources of this societal sickness. A Norse myth about 12 gods having a dinner party at Valhalla where the 13th, and uninvited, guest is the mischievous Loki. Any fan of the Avengers movies knows Loki is bad news, but this myth relates to him tricking guests into killing one another and casting the earth into darkness. A biblical reference to the number 13 relates to Jesus’ last supper, where Judas was the 13th guest. In ancient Rome, witches reportedly gathered in groups of 12 and the 13th was thought to be the devil. As for Friday, some biblical scholars believe Abel to have been slain by Cain on Friday the 13th and Eve to have tempted Adam with the forbidden fruit on a Friday. Of course Christians are well aware that Friday is the day Jesus was crucified. Combine all of that together and you have some strong roots for a general unease about Friday the 13th.

Now that we have explored some of the very ancient roots of this mysterious day and the fear it inspires in some, we need to look at how these beliefs remain so strong today. Why do we, in general, have a bad feeling about Friday the 13th? The short version – “that’s the way it has always been”. The longer version could go on for pages, so let’s keep this brief. We grew up hearing that Friday the 13th was unlucky or bewitched or bad or some other uncomfortable thing. Of course you also have quite a few horror movies with this title, but the belief in this day has been passed down through generations.

When you think about how the belief in this day’s power has been passed down, and the fact that there really are no modern examples of horrible things happening on this day, it’s remarkable. Take it a step further and think about some of your other limiting beliefs. Where do they come from? Is it possible that they may be another phantom? Speaking for myself, there are definitely things that have held me back that should not have. I’m not going to speak for you, but I suspect you are in a similar boat. Find those limiting beliefs and laugh them off like the minority do with Friday the 13th.

Save early, save often

Previously posted on June 13, 2015

Two out of three Americans expect retirement to come with financial stress based on how they are currently saving, according to a new Bank of America and Merrill Edge survey.

So this survey shows that we, as Americans, know we are saving too little for our golden years and fully expect that time in our lives to be stressful due to finances.  The data also indicates that even though this cohort knows they are not saving nearly enough, they have not changed their behavior.  How can this be?

I realize that grouping large numbers of individuals into catchy terms like Gen X and Millennials oversimplifies things, but there seems to be a general trend.  We have abandoned sound financial planning and education about personal finances.  We have made it acceptable (even expected) to save a minimal amount of our earnings and allow a money manager to gamble with it in the stock market.  Even after the crashes of 2000 and 2008, the Keynesian promoters of spending say that we need to max out our credit cards to keep the economy going and get the market back where it needs to be.

This is getting a little bleak.  The good news is that financial knowledge and responsibility were not always at these levels in America.  Before the birth of Social Security, the Great Society, Dodd-Frank, and other government meddling, Americans relied on themselves and on the relationships they built over their lives to ensure retirement years were well spent.  Was that “a different time”?  Sure it was.  The point is that we can rescue our financial eduction from the Keynesian theorists who think “the masses” are too stupid to manage their own money and who encourage everyone to spend more than they can afford.  We just need to remind ourselves that there is a better way.

The Perpetual Wealth Code is based on the 10-20-70 principle, which dedicates ten cents of every dollar you earn to your savings.  Where you put your ten percent is up to you and the PWC does not require a financial product to put it into practice.  That said, there is a wide range of options for where you park your cash.  If you are interested in learning more about this process, and the gold standard for where to put your ten percent, click here.  I am also available to talk any time about how I use the Perpetual Wealth Code and the opportunities that have opened up.  Just reach out via the contact page.

Remodel your life

Previously posted June 8, 2015

Every year the Iowa City Area Home Builders Association holds a Parade of Homes and this past weekend (6/6) kicked off the annual parade.  I enjoy checking out the new homes to see what is new and different, but my favorite part of the Parade is put on by the Remodelers’ Council.  These projects may range from an updated master bathroom to an entire house remodel, and every year reveals something exciting.  We are fortunate to have both talented remodeling contractors and homeowners willing to open their homes for all to see.  When walking through each of these houses, you cannot help be both impressed by the craftsmanship and inspired by the creativity.  The homes are in well-established neighborhoods and some even look a little older, which is what makes these projects even more impressive and important.  You can see the dramatic change from older materials and inefficient layouts to updated products and people-friendly designs.  It’s exciting to think that these older neighborhoods can be revitalized one room at a time just so long as the time and care is put into them.

The Parade shows what can be done with a little imagination and the help of a professional.  Clearly this applies to housing, but you can expand this to the rest of your life with a little creativity.  Are you waiting for inspiration to run a marathon?  Drop 20 pounds?  Shake up your circle of friends?  Take control of your financial life?  All are within reach if you are willing to think like a remodeler.  After this weekend, I can see things in a new light.

Wishing you the best and hoping you receive the enlightenment you need to make the improvements you need in your life.

It’s Not About You

Previously posted on May 1, 2015

One week ago today I had the honor of kicking off and acting as emcee of an event known as the Wealth Summit for my good friends at Life Benefits.  The Summit was well attended and considered a success by both the attendees and the organizers.  This is not because of the emcee, mind you, but I mention the success for a reason.  Virtually everything that was presented and discussed focused on how to improve the lives of the attendees.  The primary driver of the event was how the organizers could add value to the lives of others, not a celebration of how successful they have been.

This may not seem like a big deal, but it makes all the difference.  I learned from one of the organizers that it was also done intentionally.  Dr. Tom McFie is an extremely successful individual who has started and sold several chiropractic practices, and is now a prominent promoter/user of the Perpetual Wealth Code.  Dr. McFie pointed out how speaking about “I” first is doomed to fail and gave a very dramatic example.  Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, informed Mitt Romney that he was going to lose the 2012 presidential election long before the votes were cast.  Mr. Allen’s reasoning did not relate to poll data, but his observation that Mr. Romney spoke too much about what he believed, what he was going to do, what he thought about something.  After talking about his views, Mr. Romney rarely made the connection to the audience about what it meant for them and how they were all part of the team.  Sadly, Mr. Allen was exactly right and we have been suffering through more Obama years, but that is another post.

When you think about it, it seems obvious that focusing your attention on the needs of your friends/family/customers/clients/co-workers would help you achieve more in life.  This is just a friendly reminder that we can easily slip back into the “me first” mentality, so it is a good idea to purposefully think of others on a regular basis.

Mind the Gap

Previously posted on March 13, 2015

A recent post on the Plansponsor website states that the Pension Rights Center believes the aggregate deficit for U.S. retirement income is $7.7 TRILLION.  There is no link to the study or any explanation of how this number is calculated, but the idea is in step with what everyone should already know.  Future retirees have not saved enough and getting back on track is a very daunting task.

The post was centered around what some members of the U.S. Senate believe needs to be done, and several things stuck out to me.  Some feel they need to raise the contribution caps on qualified plans, others believe more stringent regulation on financial services is the answer, but none of them suggest allowing the free market to operate on its own.  Nor do they offer a solution that would help educate someone on the value of saving and self-reliance.  The short version is that they are using the same level of thinking to solve a problem that was used to create the problem in the first place.

The solution, in my humble opinion, is to change how you think about money and saving and responsibility.  Specifically, who is responsible for saving for your retirement?  Is that on the government?  A person’s employer?  Someone else?  The answer is clear.  Each individual is responsible for their own saving and their own future.  While we are all here to help one another, the ultimate responsibility is on the individual.  I make this point because of the frequency that I hear and read about how a company is not contributing enough to the employee’s retirement plan, or the government isn’t policing the financial industry heavily enough, or the best/only option for savings is a qualified plan.  Each of these ideas leads one down a path of limitation and dependency, and they are rampant.  Even if someone has been able to stash money in a 401(k) and they have benefited from the recent market rebound, they are still limited by rules and fees and dependency based thinking.

If one is able to overcome these limiting thoughts, the road to wealth and financial freedom lies ahead.  The Perpetual Wealth Code is a powerful tool that has been around for a long time allowing people to manage their own financial lives.  It all starts with saving, and there are most definitely options that aren’t limited by the short-sighted Senators in Washington D.C.  Your financial future is in your hands, and it looks bright.