Saturday, December 21, 2013

Here's the list

My family has been bugging me lately to provide them with a list of things I would like to have for Christmas. The very request has a lot to do with why I am labeled Scrooge.   I hate to make out a list?  I thought it was supposed to be about the giving and not the getting.   My list could be very simple.   "Just get me something that comes from your heart" would be a very easy answer.

However, since Christmas is next week I thought I had better do what the family is asking.  So here is my list:
  • A recliner to sleep in while I watch the Cardinals win the world series next year.  You know it's going to happen and I need a recliner.   I currently have to sleep on a couch that is too short for me to watch the tv from.
  • While we are talking about the Cardinals, I need someone to plan a trip to St Louis next summer to see the Cardinals play Boston and the Yankees.  Both teams are coming to St Louis in 2014.   I NEED to go and someone else should plan the trip (tickets, hotel, etc)
  • We need another family vacation like the one we had last summer.  It was great and doing that again would be a great present.
  • I NEED a Browning T-Bolt .22.   I don't hunt much but I am 55 years old and didn't really get to enjoy a Corvette for a mid-life crisis.   A beautiful .22 to give to my grandson some day shouldn't be too much to ask for.
  • I want headphones for my iPod, iPhone, iPad (yes, I have all 3).   I want some red ones and I want them to be those really cool old fashion kind that I see the young people wearing these days.  They NEED to have great sound.  No Bose.  Too expensive.
  • I want to go to Oshkosh to the airshow next summer.  Who wants to go with me?
  • I want someone to help me clean out my closet of all the old shirts, slacks and ties.   Let's take some of them to the thrift store.   But wouldn't it be really neat to cut some of them up and make a quilt out of them and then take the quilt to someone who needs it.  
  • Since I gave all my clothes away, someone had better take me shopping so I can buy some new clothes.
  • I NEED a picture of my grandchildren to display in my office.
  • I need someone to help me clean up and organize my garage and storage building and home office.  They are a mess but they always have been.  So no hurry on this one.
  • I want one of these:
  • Or one of these:
  • Or one of these:
 
 
I am really going now.   This should get the family started but I am sure I will add more to the list very soon.   My birthday is in February.   They will need a list for that event also.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Pull yourself up and do something


We all know that the holidays can be a very depressing time for some people.   There are many reasons that may be but that is not the purpose of this post.   I am not talking about clinical depression.   I am talking about the winter time “blues.” Dale Partridge recently blogged about steps to pull yourself out of those “blues”.
Here are the steps he suggest:

·         Serve someone who needs you.

·         Be nice to yourself

·         Drink a beer, but not 7

·         Stop working so freaking hard

·         Change your scenery, literally

·         Then repeat as many time as necessary 2 Timothy 1:7 – “I’ve not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of sound mind”
So get up out of that recliner where you are feeling sorry for yourself and go ring a bell for the Salvation Army or something similar.

Don’t forget, it’s Christmas time.  

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Life is great.

Here is a picture of my mom and sister, Brenda.   Brenda became a grandmother today.


Monday, December 16, 2013

There is nothing like the sleep of a satisfied man

There needs to be a good reason you do what you do.   I have been thinking about this a lot lately.   2013 has been quite a year for me but that is another story for later.   I have decided that 2014 is going to be one of the best years of my life.  I HAVE DECIDED.

I recently read an article on the growingleaders.com web site about helping young people just starting out find the right (career) ladder to climb.   You should read the article and you definitely need to watch the Stephen Kellogg Ted video that is referenced in the article.  As a matter of fact, I don’t really care if you read the article, just watch the video. 
The second best quote from the article is this “It’s better to be at the bottom of a ladder you want to climb, than the top of a ladder you don’t.”   As a leader (and hopefully a mentor to some) it is my job to help others make sure they are on the right ladder.  That’s not always easy.   My own self-interest sometimes gets in the way.   Hopefully, at the end of my career (life) I will be able to look back on those that I have crossed paths with and be able to say that I helped in some small way. 

Here is a summary from the article on how to choose your ladder:
When passion, need, strength and opportunity all meet – you are on a good ladder:

1.       Passion – the work represents something you love doing.

2.       Need – the work you do answers a “cry” and solves a problem.

3.       Strength – the work you do involves you using your primary strength.

4.       Opportunity – the work you do isn’t forced but is a prospect in front of you.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Is there going to be a train wreck

In my quest to gain knowledge about the past and present (don’t forget I am an apprentice futurist) I came across this interesting article from Business Insider from last July written by Henry Blodget.   “If you’re wondering what’s wrong with America, look at these four charts” is the title of the article. 

Let me summarize:

Unemployment is above 7%
Growth is weak.
Most consumers are strapped.
Meanwhile, the stock market is hitting record highs, and corporations are printing money.

Blodgot uses four charts to prove his point. 

Chart one illustrates the fact that corporate profits and profit margins are at an all-time high.

Chart two shows wages are going the other direction and are at an all-time low as a percent of the economy.

Chart three is a graph of jobs from the US Department of labor showing that fewer Americans are employed than at any time in the past three decades.

Chart four, also from the US Department of Labor, shows that labor’s share of the national income is at an all-time low.

Blodgot suggest that it is time to rethink our current business philosophy.  In short, he says

“..the religion of "maximizing profits" that has developed in America over the past 30 years has created a business culture in which executives dance to the tune of short-term traders and quarterly financial reports, instead of investing aggressively on behalf of employees, customers, and long-term owners.


I am sure that Mr. Blodgot’s facts are correct but I am not sure that they are fully in context.  However, one can’t be encouraged with the direction these important indicators show our country is headed.  My job, as a futurist, is to offer some thoughts on the subject.   The question is, will the trends indicated in these four charts continue into the future or will some event happen that will alter the trend of one or more of the charts?   Another question for a futurist to consider is where will it all end if nothing changes?  

ummmmmmm! I will get back to you on that.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

It's a bad habit

It has been a few days since I have posted.   Our weather has been bad here in the Ozarks.  Snow and cold temperature seems to have a negative effect on my mental juices.   I just want to curl up on the couch under a blanket and sleep.  

Now I don’t want you to think that the winter weather has effected (or is it affected) my writing.   I am only a few posts into this new blogging thing.   I have a lot of different subjects that I want to write about.   I have so many subjects I have been struggling to decide which should be first.

Today I read an article from the Addicted2Success web site about the one bad habit that can de-rail your chances of success.   You would never guess what the one bad habit is. It’s indecisiveness.  You can read the article by clicking here.  

“Unsuccessful people aren’t wrong all the time, but they share one common trait that is obvious to those who look closely. They are very poor decision makers.”

As you know, I am new to being a futurist.   As a futurist, I need to be thinking about 2014 and beyond.   This, of course, leads to New Year resolutions.   One of my resolutions is to be more decisive.  I want to be quicker and better at decision making.   

This idea should apply to both my personal and business life.  At least I think so.  I will have to think about that.   Maybe decide later.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Man in the Arena

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

From a speech given by former president Theodore Roosevelt at the Sorbonne in Paris on April 23, 1910. The speech is titled Citizenship in a Republic.

Invictus

By William Ernest Henley 1849–1903

Out of the night that covers me,
      Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
      For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
      I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
      My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
      Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
      Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
      How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

I want to be a futurist. I found out how.

I have decided that I want to be a futurist. I told someone at work this and they said I would have to quit being a pessimist. I told them I did not think so. I know the world is going to end. I just don’t know when. I think that is the very definition of a pessimistic futurist.

You can find out how to do anything by googleing it.  I googled  "How does one become a futurist"   It led me to a great article on www.futurist.com web site.   You can read the article here.  According to the article there are three ways one can become a futurist. First is the informal or self-taught way taken by most people.  You read a little.  You think a little and then you start calling yourself a futurist.  The second path is through formal education.  There are universities that offer classes in future studies. The third path is to become the student of a current futurist and have them mentor you.

I am going to take the first path.  It seems the easiest.   As a matter of fact, I think I am already a futurist so I will be calling myself that from now on.

Also, if you are real serious about becoming a futurist, you should join the World Future Society.   I joined today.


This is going to be so much fun and I am going to be so good at this.  Stay tuned.

Leadership Maxim #42 - Everything is a miracle

I saw this quote today and liked it.

Only two ways to live life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. - Albert Einstein

So here is my variation - Leadership Maxim No 42 - Live, work, worship, lead knowing that everything is a miracle.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Health Care in America

I am not crazy about the Affordable Care Act, otherwise referred to as Obamacare.   It’s not because it is a Democrat or Obama idea.   I just think it is too complicated and not well thought out.  I do not believe any time was spent thinking about the unintended consequences of a new government program this large.   Nobody seems to know what the long-term impact is going to be to our economy.

But here is the thing, I didn’t like the health care system before Obamacare and truly believe something needed to be done.   I am not a big government liberal but you can’t deny the fact that the federal and state governments are already deeply entrenched in healthcare in our country via Medicare, Medicaid and other various government programs.   The government has to have a seat at the health care debate table.  

I am really upset with all the time, energy and money that has been spent trying to repeal Obamacare.   Repealing Obamacare simply assumes that we were better off before it was made law.  I don’t think so and I believe the facts support my position.  Reform was necessary.  Let’s quit arguing and work together on a solution.

Here are just a couple of facts that you might find interesting as a Citizen:

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United States life expectancy of 78.4 years at birth, up from 75.2 years in 1990, ranks 50th among 221 nations, and 27th out of the 34 industrialized OECD countries, down from 20th in 1990.  


Of the 17 high-income countries studied by the National Institutes of Health in 2013, the United States had the highest or near-highest prevalence of infant mortality, heart and lung disease, sexually transmitted infections, adolescent pregnancies, injuries, homicides and disability.

Christmas time

Our staff at Abacus CPAs, LLC just prepared Christmas care packages to send to some of our Springfield area soldiers currently based in Afghanistan.  Reminded me of what we have asked those soldiers to do for us.   We will never be able to say thank you enough.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Winter Cleaning Time

You hear about people doing their “spring cleaning”.   I guess that is when winter finally breaks and you are able to get outside, pickup, cleanup, open the windows and freshen up.   That is my best guess.  I really have never participated in the ritual.

I favor a more practical, calendar centric idea.   December cleaning is more about getting the house ready for Christmas.  You have to move furniture to get the tree in.   More festive flat ware and Christmas china is brought out for the table.   It is also a good time to get out in the yard and trim up, pickup, and winterize. Maybe clean out the gutters while you are hanging the lights.

I also think December is a good time to make decisions about your financial life.   You should meet with your stock broker or investment counselor to review your portfolio.   It’s also a good time to review your insurance policies with your agent to make sure you have adequate coverage at the best price. Most important, you should meet with your CPA to review your tax situation.   Quite frankly, your CPA should be your first stop and you probably shouldn't wait until December.

December is also a time to look inward at yourself and decide if you been a good citizen.   What have you done to give a little back to your community and church this past year?   I know you.   You have missed a few Sunday’s at church and probably haven’t been good at keeping up with your tithe.   It’s not too late to review your giving.   Your church or preferred charity will appreciate you thinking of them at this hectic time.  Chances are your gift will help lower your tax bill next spring.   That will make you feel better then spring cleaning will. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

It's not the IRS's fault this time

I never really have understood why the "average Joe" on the street hates the IRS so much.  You can ask and all you will get is that they pay "too much" tax, like that is the IRS's fault.   You can then ask how much they pay and most can't tell you.   They just know it is too much.  You can ask what wouldn't be too much and usually can't get an answer.  Let's just all blame the IRS.   Politico.com had a good article about the IRS and Obamacare.   It is worth the read.   Check it out here.

So you want to start a new business

I would like to think I am an entrepreneur.    I have started a few businesses in the 30 years since I graduated from college.   However, I tend to be too much of an accountant sometime.   Due to my entrepreneurial nature, I also tend to read a lot of books, tweets and blogs on the subject.   Here is a good article by Mark Cuban where he lists his 12 rules for startups.   Read it here.