#happy #organizations #communities

Some may not remember a few decades ago, when labor unions were not only strong, but one of the many fibers that brought communities together.
During that time, more people attended church, community service clubs such as the Lions or Rotary were flourishing, two-parent families were the norm etc.
Bob Davis and Gary Fields discussed this social erosion in a Sept. 16, 2016, article in The Wall Street Journal.
In those decades past, the union hall was the place to be in many blue-collar towns.
Today, as union membership is declining along with job security of any sort, we see the reaction of those affected by this decline. They are looking for someone, or something, to save them, and take the country back to that time.
Technology advances will not allow it.
But the question is not who will save those disaffected by technological change and lack of job security. The question becomes whom, or what, folks can turn to who have had their lives changed forever, if not for better.
Some community institutions are still around, and not all have seen membership decline.
Technology has also given us social media, but social media, though a fine creation, is no substitute for in-person interaction.
As life changes, one must look at not only what is GOOD about his life, he must be open to find ways to combat the life changes the modern world has wrought.
If you had a good job that’s gone away, and have either had to take a job that is less rewarding or have not been able to find a suitable job at all, the answer is to look for ways other than a traditional W-2 job to make money. Easier said than done? Perhaps not. Message me to find out more.
Getting back to basics, one must check his bad attitude at the door, and not reclaim it as he exits.
There is so much good in the world today, and so many reasons to be thankful, to have faith, enthusiasm and optimism.
If you think you can find those things by reconnecting with some of the older institutions in your community, by all means, go for it.
If you think you can find those things by hanging around different people – you can still have your friends, even if they don’t inspire you – by all means look for those different people. There’s no telling to what, or to whom, they could introduce you.
Looking for that one person who is going to change the world by bringing things back to the way they were is a futile exercise. However, looking for that one person who is going to change YOUR life, who will make YOUR life better, can not only be productive, but also can be very fulfilling.
In short, being optimistic, enthusiastic, open and happy can not only bring you joy, it very well could bring you success. Plus, it’s certainly better to be happy, even if you have to work at being happy, than being miserable.
Go for happy.


#MenBehavingBadly #financiers #WallStreet
The book, “Straight to Hell,” by John LeFevre, describes the drunkenness and debauchery of financiers working in Citigroup’s Hong Kong office.
Regardless of what you think about those who work on Wall Street, and whether you believe that personal behavior may not affect professional behavior, this book might give you pause.
It was reviewed by Philip Delves Broughton in the July 21, 2015, edition of The Wall Street Journal.
It describes leud play and solicitation of prostitutes by those to whom we may entrust our wealth. Hopefully, they are not spending the money their clients entrust with them for their fun and games, but they probably make enough to afford such entertainment. It appears, from Delves Broughton’s review, that these guys’ maturity did not correspond with their wealth.
The deeper question Delves Broughton poses about the culture of financiers working away from home is whether deviant personal behavior and professional behavior are connected, and whether men behaving badly matters. Broughton says his hunch is that bankers are not so different from other male business tribes when on maneuvers. “They simply have the cash to do more of the nasty stuff,” writes Delves Broughton, author, most recently, of “The Art of the Sale: Learning From the Masters About the Business of Life.”
Let’s forget, for a moment, the nasty specifics of what these guys were doing. Let’s instead extrapolate the behavior(s) of your employer(s) toward you.
Let’s presume, too, that your employer is not getting too personal with you, i.e. sexual harassment. There are ways to deal with that that may be too complicated to address here.
Let’s take an example of your employer heading home for the evening, leaving you alone with tons of work on your desk, and knowing you won’t be able to go home at a reasonable hour.
Let’s also consider the example of your employer telling you that you cannot have the vacation time you want, or need, because you are too badly needed at that time. Yet, he never loses out on the vacation he wants.
Your employer is enjoying the gobs more money he’s making than you, while you are forced to put your life on hold for him.
Certainly, in this day and age, if you have a job that you need, you are fortunate. But how long can it go on? Will you one day walk in and be told your job is gone, after all the sacrifices you have made?
How would you feel if you worked for one of the men described in LeFevre’s book, and he came to you one day and told you, you were being laid off, despite your good behavior?
If you are feeling as if your current situation is not giving you the life you want, visit There, you may see the pure happiness, joy and prosperity to be found, simply by helping others succeed – a whole different milieu from the one LeFevre’s book describes.
Delves Broughton’s speculation about how businessmen behave when no one, but them and their friends, is looking, perhaps is true. But there are certainly good, kind, ethical and very professional business people out there, who would be a pleasure to work for.
They would never make you stay late when they weren’t, or deprive you of a vacation while they took theirs. But even good situations don’t always last. It might be best to plan now for the day when the goodness, or necessary evil, of a job disappears. You may even get to exit on your own terms.


#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.


#AmericanDream #disappearingAmericanDream #economicgrowthrates
The American Dream is disappearing, by many accounts.
America needs the 3.5% solution.
No, it’s not a chemical that will magically remove all our country’s woes.
It an economic growth rate we once saw as a nation, but for which there is no projection to ever achieve again, under current circumstances.
That’s the premise of an article by U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Louis Woodhill, an economics writer and venture investor. The article was published May 1, 2015, in The Wall Street Journal.
Then, on May 3, 2015, Michael W. Kraus, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Illinois, Shai Davidai, a Ph.D. candidate in psychology at Cornell University and A. David Nussbaum, adjunct assistant professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago published an article in the New York Times that says we vastly overestimate the amount of upward mobility in our society.
Finally, Peter Morici, professor of economics at the University of Maryland, says the slow job growth and low interest rates are decreasing the number of “safe” investments for savings, while allowing big companies cheap money for mergers and acquisitions. Morici’s column appeared in the May 12, 2014, edition of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
What does all this mean for the average working person – or, perhaps, the average person who is no longer working? If you get a new job, it will likely pay less than the one you lost. You’ll struggle to get any kind of return on what little you are able to save, if anything at all. And, the big companies will combine into entities that will put more people out of work.
Cassidy and Woodhill say the Congressional Budget Office projects a meager growth rate of 2.3% for the gross domestic product over the next decade. Meanwhile, from 1790 to 2014, the average growth rate was 3.73%, they say. However, the two men have a way they believe will help generate the kind of growth the U.S. needs to prosper: allow oil exports, and not taxing repatriated overseas profits of U.S. companies.
Cassidy and Woodhill point out another fact: had the GDP grown from 2001 to 1014 at the 3.87 annual rate it had grown between 1993 and 2000, the federal government would have had a $500 billion surplus in 2014, instead of that big a deficit. Certainly, a 1 percent difference in the economic growth rate makes a big difference in the outcome for all of us. The writers also point out that current GDP growth per person is $2,433, lower than Papua New Guinea’s.
If we are truly in for growth rates in the 2s rather than the 3s, we will certainly see a decrease in upward mobility, as the trio who wrote in The New York Times suggest.
To extrapolate more on Morici’s column, low interest rates cannot be sustained forever. Average people usually can’t go looking for riskier investments at higher returns, lest they get burned. Yet, Morici says that is what some are doing.
Let’s look at Cassidy’s and Woodhill’s recommendations. Oil-company TV ads are telling us that the U.S. is currently the No. 1 producer of natural gas, and soon to be No. 1 in oil. The tendency, after decades of buying energy ingredients from countries who hate us, is to keep all that oil and gas we are now producing to ourselves.
But Cassidy and Woodhill say we should sell some of it. Perhaps we should analyze what it would cost us to ship the oil and gas elsewhere, vs. distributing it domestically. It’s cheaper, for example to ship Alaskan oil to Japan and other Pacific nations, rather than getting it to the U.S. mainland.
Then, there are the profits U.S. companies make overseas. There are trillions of U.S. assets awaiting repatriation. But, much of that would go to taxes in the current milieu. One has to analyze whether it’s better to bring the money home, tax-free, and put it to work here, vs. allowing it to sit in foreign institutions while we still collect no taxes on it. That’s certainly worth a full vetting.
As for our own prosperity, you may be among those who have given up looking for work, or who has been forced to take a job that pays less than the one you lost. The good news: there are many ways out there to make incomes without having to have a traditional job. Sure, there is work involved, but no boss and no threat of layoffs. For one of the best, visit
Sometimes, when all looks bleak, there’s a huge ray of hope that will guide those who would go for it. It may require new thinking and motivation, but sitting around complaining of bleakness and wishing ill on those who have it better than you accomplishes nothing.



#jealousy #envy #emotions
We can debate whether jealousy and envy are the same, but both can be negative, or positive, emotions.

We may be jealous if our significant other chooses someone else. But if our significant other chooses someone else, what can you do about it? It’s probably best not to be where one is not wanted, and move on.

Andrew Stark, in the Dec. 10, 2014, edition of The Wall Street Journal, reviewed the book “Jealousy,” by Peter Toohey. Stark says Toohey talks about jealousy among employees. Studies suggest, Stark quotes from the book, that workers feel pressure to fall short of expectation so as not to arouse the jealousy of their peers.

Is it really better to slack off a bit, so as not to stand out? If so, you may be working in the wrong place. Perhaps you really don’t want others to look bad, because you don’t want others to be jealous. Perhaps you don’t want to elicit envy by outperforming others. If you feel that way, remember that jealousy and envy are the emotions of others. Just as with a significant other, it may be best not to stay where you are not wanted.

Conservatives in the media talk a lot about the evils of wealth envy. With wealth envy, one wishes ill on others who have more than they. There are a couple ways to look at this. If those of whom one is envious has gotten his wealth off the backs of, or at the expense of others, do you really want to be envious of him? Perhaps you’d rather be envious of the person of stronger moral character.

Secondly, envy of the wealthier person can be a strong motivator. If you want what that person has, perhaps you need to find a vehicle to get you closer to where that person is in resources. There are many such empowering vehicles through which people help others, and are rewarded for it. For one of the best, visit

As Stark points out, Toohey’s book says jealousy and envy can be, and often are, destructive emotions. But they can also serve as motivators.

The lessons here abound. If one uses emotions for the good, they can lead to advancement of circumstances, and of the person. If one uses emotions destructively, they can cause harm to others, and harm to those who feel them.

Many of us hope that we never let emotions get in the way of our progress. But we are not human if we don’t feel emotion. So, instead of making the effort NOT to feel something, use what you feel as a motivator, rather than a destroyer.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t THINK about how we feel. We should most definitely think about why we feel as we do, and how to channel those feelings most productively.

At the same time, we should let others channel their feelings as they believe best. We should not let our positive behavior decline because others may not like it. The most successful people have been outcasts, and one must determine that success is far more important than how others may feel about it.

Finally, the most success comes by helping others. If we help others be successful, to borrow from Zig Ziglar, our success will follow.

So if you are feeling jealous, don’t get mad. Move on. Or, be glad you have something to aim for. If you envy someone, do what you need to do to be more like him. In either case, be careful. Know that what you might be aiming for will be good for you, and for others.



Golfer Jack Nicklaus beat polio as a boy to become a champion.
Today, though he holds the record for the number of major tournaments won, he remains humble.
Bob Greene, a commentator for CNN and author of the book “Late Edition: A Love Story,” discussed the Nicklaus way of golf – and life – in an April 4, 2014, column in The Wall Street Journal.
Greene says Nicklaus’ theory for golf and life is to do your best, and everything else will take care of itself. He points out that Nicklaus played in the era of Muhammed Ali and Joe Namath, two athletes known for declaring their own greatness and predicting unpredictable victories.
Nicklaus, though, preferred to let other people declare his greatness, Greene says.
Humility is a scarce character trait in people today. Many who rise to power often tell us of their greatness, even before it is achieved. We need more people who don’t just act before they speak, but prefer not to speak at all. Their actions say all that needs to be said.
They may, or may not, object to having others verbalize their greatness. But they see themselves as a person just doing what he loves, or doing what he believes he was created to do – quietly.
It’s been said that one should put his money where his mouth is. Or, one should walk the walk if he talks the talk. Namath and Ali did that, but Nicklaus did it as he remained quiet.
Humble people don’t talk the talk. They just walk the walk. They put their money where it belongs, not near their mouths.
They give and get, and never take. They do their thing without expectation, though they expect much from themselves quietly.
Have you ever had a bombastic boss? How did he treat you, his employee? Did he take a lot from you, while giving you little? Did he make you feel as if he were doing you a favor by employing you? Did you feel that he was more comfortable being served, than serving?
We all have the ability to gain wealth and/or power. How we get it says as much, or more, about a person as the achievement itself.
Humble people accomplish things quietly, yet openly. They accomplish things honestly and give generously. They favor the accomplishment itself, and what it can do for others, rather than what it can do for them. They don’t talk of greatness. They Just Do It, to quote the Nike slogan – and do for others.
Do you consider yourself humble? Do you have goals that you don’t talk about with others, but hold deep inside? Are you genuinely kind to others, and eager to do for others, even when no one is watching?
If so, and are looking for a way to put that genuine goodness to use, visit You may find the best thing you can do to help others, and perhaps achieve what you’d like for yourself.
Successful people do more and talk less. Like Nicklaus, they take life one shot at a time. Then, go to the next shot. They do their best each time, all the time. They always give credit to others. As Greene put it, Nicklaus believed his major tournament record would have been broken by now. But, at age 74, he still leads in the clubhouse.


If you are finally back at work after a long unemployment, your life has changed.
In decades past, one may have had a job that had ebbs and flows. He worked when there was work, and got laid off when times were slow – only to be hired back when times improved.
In those days, jobs – particularly in the trades – didn’t go away. They sometimes went on vacation. Those who faced that situation often planned for it. More importantly, when they got hired back, it was often a better situation from what they had before.
For most professions, THOSE DAYS ARE GONE!
Today, if one gets laid off, often the job is never coming back. The person has to re-invent himself or herself. That can take time. You may know someone, even yourself, who has been out of work for months or years. As they look for jobs, they are discriminated against because they have been unemployed for so long. If they get another job, it is often for less money than they were making.
Wall Street Journal reporter Veronica Dagher talked to experts in the field and, in an article published March 2, 2014, offers advice to those who are finally working again after a long employment. In short, the six steps Dagher found in her research are: 1) Celebrate in moderation. Have a drink or an expensive cup of coffee, but don’t take a big vacation. 2) Set a new budget. A smaller salary means a reduced lifestyle. 3) Start saving and tackle debt. Bills may have drained your savings and increased your debt. Start building your savings and paying down debt. 4) Get a checkup. You’ve probably put your health on hold to save money. Start taking care of yourself again. 5) Catch up on retirement. You’ve probably drained any retirement account you may have had. Start building it back up. 6) Plan on your job going away again. Employers are constantly restructuring. They have to. You are just one reorganization, or one bad manager, away from the end of your career in certain fields.
If you are working, be thankful — no matter how bad your job seems to be. If your work situation is terrible, look to find something you can do part-time to help you get out of it. A second job may not be the answer you are looking for. There are oodles of opportunities out there to augment your income without having a traditional job. For one of the best, visit You, and your friends who may be in the same boat, just might find a way to eventually walk out of miserable jobs with smiles on your faces.
Re-inventing oneself is not the same as being someone you aren’t. You can still be you, with all your beliefs, quirks etc. Re-inventing oneself means taking control of YOUR situation. You can’t stop your employer from downsizing or reorganizing. He may be very sad to have to let you go. Regardless, things happen and YOU have to deal with it. Often, that means changing priorities, learning new things and, most of all, being open to looking at new things.
Not everything out there is going to suit you. Sometimes, you have to take a job you hate to get you over an immediate financial hump. But, long term, the future is in your hands and you can achieve great things if you want to.
Here’s hoping that if you were out of work for a long time, that you’ve finally found a new job that suits you. If you are newly unemployed, check out some of those other opportunities out there while you are looking for a new job.
If you have a job you hate, or you have a job you fear is going to go away, start to re-invent yourself now. Spend your free time checking into some of the ways to pick up extra money. So, when, or if, the day comes that your boss tells you goodbye, you’ll be OK.
Or, better yet, you can tell your boss goodbye first, and leave smiling.


When you were young, did mom or dad ever promise you something important, and not deliver? Or, did they give you something, but it wasn’t what you thought you were going to get?
Government entities have promised their workers, in most cases, a pension. Pension benefits, some of which are quite generous, are one of many reasons people take government jobs, often at lower salaries than they could make in the private sector.
But states, cities, counties and, yes, the federal government are all worried they may not be able to keep the promises they made to those workers.
Government revenue is down. Government workers are losing their jobs in relatively large numbers. And some public officials are taking action to ease their pension burdens.
Allysia Finley interviewed San Jose, Calif., Mayor Chuck Reed for an article in the Nov. 30-Dec. 1 weekend edition of The Wall Street Journal. Reed sees the crisis in the city’s pension obligation. It is now spending $45,263 each year per worker on pensions, according to the article. Reed sees that as unsustainable.
He is offering workers a choice: pay 16 percent more of your salary toward your pension – about 27 percent of a police officer’s salary – or accept lower benefits in the future. The choice circumvents state court decisions that protect workers’ vested pension rights. In other words, he can’t take their pensions away totally, but he can put more of the burden on the workers and less on the city.
The public employee unions are not too happy with this idea, as one might expect. Reed’s and other ideas from administrators and elected officials nationwide all but ensure that if you are young, and work for a government entity, chances are very good that you will not see the retirement benefits your older colleagues are seeing today.
Or, you’ll have to contribute more toward those benefits. Either way, government entities cannot sustain the status quo forever.
So, if you are that young, government worker, you have to begin thinking differently about retirement. Perhaps you will have to work longer than you’d planned. The idea of retiring with full benefits after 20 or 25 years of service – no matter how old you are – may not be in the cards. Yes, there are some jobs – firefighters and police officers, for example – that may not allow you to work past a certain age. So, you have to think differently.
That pension may not be enough for you to pursue a hobby, or second career, at your leisure, while you are relatively young. Instead, you may have to start now to set up your situation well ahead of retirement. You might even be able to set up something that won’t require you to work another job in your off time.
You hear people talk about investing and saving at an early age. That would be wise, but your government salary – and/or paying more for your pension benefits – may not allow as much flexibility to save much. Even if you can put away $5 a week, plus most, if not all, of any raises you get over time, and not touch it, you could have a pretty nice nest egg. Will it be enough?
There are lots of good ways to earn extra income while you are still on the job. For one of the best, visit If you and your friends in the same situation could lock arms, you all could not worry about making Reed’s choice, or deal with your promises not fully delivered.
Young folks in the private and public sectors all have to worry about how they will be employed for as long as they want to work. Unpleasant circumstances may intervene. Promises may be broken. If you presume they will happen, you can better prepare. Fighting valiantly to keep the status quo, as your union representatives and others may do, ultimately could be a waste of energy. Complaining about it is even a bigger energy waster.
Good things can come to those who prepare. The writing is on the wall. Eventually, Reed or some of his compatriots in government will reform pensions. Their decision(s) probably won’t benefit individual workers greatly. But they could benefit everyone into perpetuity. So get ready. Take action. Your future may depend on it.


We’ve all heard about students getting through college, not finding jobs and facing mounds of debt.
Was the education worth it?
But what happens to students who start college, don’t finish, and still have lots of debt?
Ben Casselman, writing for The Wall Street Journal, says these dropouts’ job prospects are a whole lot worse than those for kids who finish college.
Casselman’s article presumes the student’s decision to drop out was his. But, in fact, many parents are pulling their kids out of school for financial reasons.
It brings to mind the financial services ad on TV, in which the father, worried about losing his job, feels pressure to pull his daughter out of school for a semester or two. He knows his daughter is enjoying her college experience. Then, dad gets word that his daughter has made the dean’s list. He then decides to work with his financial adviser to figure out a way to keep her in school.
Let’s take a look at this situation. First, if a student is already in school, and doing well, even though debt is being accumulated, would there be a great difference between paying off a $10,000 debt with reduced job prospects, and paying off a $40,000 debt, with better job prospects?
As a parent, did you and your child talk long and hard BEFORE the student went to school, about how his or her education would be paid for? Did you and your child discuss what would happen if dad, mom or both lost jobs? Would they drain their retirement account(s) –probably not a wise decision –to pay for their child’s education?
Would the student assume ALL the debt for his education, or does the student expect help from his or her parents to cover that? A student may get his or her first lesson in responsibility if he or she KNOWS he or she owns that debt. He or she may think twice about what they study in school, how hard they will work at school, whether they will get a part-time job while in school and what other sacrifices he or she will make.
If a student wants to major in, say, the liberal arts – students are urged to follow their passion – is there a discussion among student, parents, high school or college counselors and other trusted adults about realistic career options? If the realistic career options are few, and the student still wants to study, say, music or drama, is there a discussion about what the student will do to earn a living after college, while he or she pursues his or her passion?
There are oodles of options for any of these situations. First, discuss the student’s hobbies, to see whether there are possibilities of earning money with them. For example, is the student gifted in music, but also likes to tinker with cars? Perhaps the hobby will help the student make a living, until the student’s passion becomes monetized.
Second, there are many ways to make money regardless of education. To check out one of the best, visit Having a financial Plan B early in one’s career may give a student time freedom, and financial freedom to pursue his or her passion sooner rather than later, and also pay for his or her liberal arts education. This may also be a great option for the student who has already dropped out, and is saddled with debt. It may not matter how dismal that former student’s job prospects are, if the former student sees the program and diligently works it.
Most importantly, it’s paramount to make decisions on how to deal with all eventualities BEFORE the student starts college. If the student, for some reason, doesn’t do well in school and has to leave, plan early for what will happen next. Parents, meanwhile, have to decide how their child’s education would be paid for – regardless of what happens to their job(s).
The moral: plan early. Don’t force a situation no one wants, without some backup plan. Not all college educations are created equal. Passions don’t always produce incomes. It’s always better to plan your life, and make your income work around it, as opposed to planning your income, and working your life in around it. Sometimes, though, you plan your income and eventually gain your financial freedom.
Plan for surprises. They are sure to come.