Many of us look at people we deem successful and believe we cannot be like them.
Either we believe our circumstances are holding us down, or we believe we are not as smart as successful people are or that luck is not on our side.
Rory Vaden, co-founder of Southwest Consulting, spoke to one of the most successful people he knows, Spencer Hays, founder of Tom James fine clothing and executive chairman of The Southwestern Co. Vaden discussed that conversation in a column in the June 28, 2015, edition of The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville.
According to Vaden, Hays believes that success is simply a choice. It’s the choice to do whatever it takes – or not – to be successful.
To most of us, that’s a very simplistic answer. We all would choose success over failure. But it’s not a matter of wanting success in the abstract. It’s a matter of defining success in one’s own mind, and going out and getting it.
In other words, make up your mind to be successful and do what you need to do.
Vaden said the idea of making up one’s mind to be successful was the one thing that Hays said that struck him in his conversation.
It appears to many that making up one’s mind to be successful is very difficult. How many people do you know start something and give up without finishing it, especially when things got tough? These people wanted to be successful at the beginning, but later discovered that what they had to do to get there was not worth the effort or the sacrifice.
An idea has to travel from one’s head, to one’s heart, to one’s gut. When one finds what he wants to do, he does what he needs to do to accomplish it, no matter what happens.
Another scenario: how many people do you know who had a goal, but listened to those who told him he could never accomplish it? The naysayers believe they mean well, and some actually do. But the successful person believes more in what he wants to achieve than he does others’ opinions of him or his goal.
We can certainly find people who might tell the person who lost a job that it was his own fault. Most of us have circumstances we can’t control. Those are not important. What’s important is how we respond when those circumstances hit.
We can complain, and convince ourselves that the world is against us. Or, we can look for something that will give us the motivation we need to conquer our circumstances.
A third scenario: a person has the motivation, work ethic and has made up his mind to be successful. He just needs a vehicle to help him find success. If you are one of those, visit It’s one of many, and one of the best, such vehicles for personal success and for helping others find success.
Choosing success is not like choosing from a restaurant menu. You can’t just say you want something and someone else is going to bring it to you. Choosing success is choosing to do what you need to do, regardless of whom or what surrounds you. It’s about believing in your goal, and pursuing it above all other things – except family and friends.
It’s having faith in what you know is good, regardless of what others think. If you choose success, you’ve chosen wisely.



#employerspying #privacy #spyingonemployees
Imagine your boss forcing you to download an app on your personal cell phone that would allow him or her to monitor everything you do, everywhere you go, both at work and at home.
Would that bother you? What if deleting that app from your phone got you fired?
Heather G. Anderson, a lawyer with the Miller Anderson Law Group, discussed this in a column in the June 21, 2015, edition of The News Sentinel newspaper in Knoxville, Tenn.
Many employers equip their company vehicles with GPS systems to monitor their whereabouts at all times, Anderson says.
Now, a California company has opted to require employees to download an app on their personal cell phones, so they can monitor what the employees are doing at all times, she says.
Certainly, employers can have legitimate reasons to monitor people. They certainly don’t want their employees goofing off, or dealing with other personal issues on work time. Employers may even want to track employees and vehicles in search of better and quicker responses to problems, more efficient use of company property and employees’ time etc.
The big question becomes, what about an employee’s privacy? Anderson says employees expected privacy in the workplace by locking desks, password-protecting documents etc. But employers have discovered that some employees abuse the latitude they are offered in the workplace.
So, Anderson says, if you are an employer, and you don’t want to offer your employees any privacy while on the job, including Internet and cell phone use, you need to spell that out.
But what about monitoring an employee outside of work? Anderson says many states have laws regarding employee monitoring, and some require permission in advance from the employee to do so. Others make it illegal to fire an employee based on lawful activity outside of work, unless specific exceptions apply. Tennessee does not have any off-duty conduct laws, she adds.
Anderson recommends, as one might expect, that employers check with an attorney to determine the rights and risks involved in setting up a monitoring policy.
Many employers will try to get away with anything to learn as much as they can about someone who works for them. They delve into a person’s social media activities, do background checks etc. A rule of thumb here for an employee or prospective employee: if you have something you don’t want your employer or prospective employer to know, don’t put it where it can easily be found. Better yet, keep it to yourself.
The bigger questions, besides the legal ones, become: what limits do employers have? What expectation of privacy should employees have when they go to work someplace? An employer’s curiosity may not stop with the interview question: what are your hobbies?
Of course, you can eliminate the possibility of an employer snooping on you by becoming an independent business person. How? For one of the best ways, visit You can work for yourself, not by yourself, and create the freedom to do what you like, without anyone watching. Of course, it’s always best to do good things, even when no one is watching.
As employers look for tighter leashes for their employees ostensibly to improve their bottom lines, they risk sending great, or potentially great, employees out the door. If you are one of those great, or potentially great, employees, your options may not be as limited as you might believe.


#jobs #security #parttimejobs
The United States is gaining jobs, but more of them are part time, pay less than the ones lost and employees haven’t had raises in years.
Sure, McDonald’s, Wal-Mart and other companies have announced employee raises with great fanfare recently, but many of those who work there can’t make a decent living on what they earn.
Associated Press reporters Josh Boak and Christopher S. Rugaber tackled this issue in an article published June 14, 2015 in the Tennessean newspaper in Nashville. In that same Tennessean edition, Paul Davidson of USA Today said many who are working part time are doing so reluctantly.
If you grew up in the 1950s or 1960s, you are at or near retirement. Hopefully, you retired, or will retire, on your own terms. Many have not. If you are currently in your 20s, looking for steady work, perhaps you are cobbling together an income, however inadequate, with one or more part-time jobs. If you are doing that, what are the prospects of you getting the full-time job you need? Are you still living at home with Mom and Dad, and don’t really want to, but can’t afford not to?
The Associated Press article quotes Lena Allison, 54, of Los Angeles. She lost her job as a kindergarten teacher and has worked temporary jobs since. “More people may be working jobs, but they’re like these serial part-time jobs,” the article quotes her.
The AP reporters also point out that hiring has surged in the health care, retail, construction and hospitality and leisure industries. Rick Rieder, a Black Rock investment officer quoted in the AP article, says the country is beginning to see the start of broad-based wage growth. That opinion would surprise many Americans, the reporters say.
But here’s what could trigger wage growth: lower productivity. In the first three months of 2015, productivity dropped 3.1 percent after a 2.3 percent drop in the fourth quarter of 2014, the AP reporters say. Productivity had expanded 2.1 percent annually, on average, since 2000, they add. Companies have been slow to invest in equipment and other assets that might make their workers produce more. Therefore, hiring more workers in the short run could combat that, the AP reporters say.
Still, most workers are collecting no benefits or vacation time with their jobs.
Let’s face it. For most people who have lost jobs in the last few years, the ones they’ve gotten to replace them, if they’ve been so lucky, pay less than the jobs they lost. For those fortunate enough to survive the downsizings, most are working harder and probably haven’t had a raise in quite some time. Fortunately for those employers, these employees probably have no better place to go.
What’s an employee to do in these situations? First, if you have a job you like that pays well, don’t let it go. But, don’t presume it will always be there. Most people are one reorganization, or one bad manager, away from an untenable employment situation. Look for a Plan B that can help you make an extra income while you work, so, if the worst case happens, you can leave your job with a smile.
If you are in need of something to relieve an immediate income problem, the same solution could apply. There are lots of great ways to make extra income outside the traditional employment arena. For one of the best, visit
Don’t let the numbers fool you. Things may appear to be getting better as far as economic numbers go, but little has trickled down to the average person. With very few ways to get meaningful help from this situation, decide today to help yourself. Save more. Spend less. Look for a Plan B. Don’t waste energy complaining about what is. Use that energy to look for, and find, what can be.


#knownunknowns #unknownunknowns #outthere #therightthing
Doing the right thing can be hard.
This is not just about honesty. It’s about making the right decisions in complicated and difficult situations.
Philip Mudd, a former CIA analyst, talks about this in his book, “The HEAD Game.” HEAD is an acronym for High Efficiency Analytic Decision-making. The book was reviewed by Michael Shermer in the May 27, 2015, edition of The Wall Street Journal.
Shermer’s review discusses decisions made by government, particularly presidents. He says Mudd used his experience as a young CIA analyst in the 1990s, trying to predict terrorist attacks. He sorted through the experiences of Somali extremists in America, and how they might be raising funds in America for terror activities abroad. But by raising questions only associated with fund-raising, the analysts, including Mudd, failed to imagine a more acute problem: recruiting young fighters to become terrorists, Shermer writes.
Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is famous for using the phrase, “known unknowns.” A known unknown, for example, is that one knows terrorists will strike again, he just doesn’t know where. The question then becomes, how does one get to know “unknown unknowns?”
The book talks about finding people who would ask questions that are totally far afield of current thinking, and actually exploring those questions, Shermer writes.
The idea brings to mind the Charles Schwab commercials in which a child asks a parent questions about the parent’s relationship with his investment adviser. The parent, then, has a difficult time coming up with suitable answers. The point of the ads: “are you asking enough questions about how your wealth is managed?”
Sometimes, we may have to get advice from someone we think might be totally “out there” in their thinking. Sometimes, accepting things the way they are is just not the right thing to do. It may be difficult to stray from the knowns, or the known unknowns. But sometimes, it’s necessary.
Take a look at your life now. Are you just accepting what is, just because? You may think you know what you don’t know, but do you really?
Shermer writes that Mudd’s book suggests using “left-to-right thinking,” asking completely different questions about a particular problem, in search of the unknown unknowns.
One question you might ask about your own problem, such as not having a job or income that you need, is: if I don’t have a job, or I have a job that is inadequate for me, is getting another job the only solution?
If you are in or near retirement, and you haven’t saved enough, one question you might ask yourself is: is there something I can do to make up for the bad circumstances or bad personal decisions I’ve endured all these years, so that I can have a relatively comfortable retirement?
One of the best answers to both those questions may appear at For many, this may be an unknown unknown. For others, it may be something that someone “out there” would find. Yet, the answer you’ve been looking for could be in there, if you choose to find it.
So, what do you know that you don’t know? What don’t you know that you don’t know? The key to finding the answers may be to ask a question you might never have thought to ask. Or, it may be to find someone “out there” who will ask it for you. If you choose the latter, as Mudd’s book says, you have to give those “out there” the chance to be heard.
So release the parameters in your thinking. Go “out there.” Explore what might be “out there.” Try to know what you don’t know you don’t know.