In this week's video I bring attention to your retirement plan or lack thereof.
Even in America, the land of plenty, there are so many people who need food, shelter, a helping hand, and a kind word. It’s true, the safety net created by public and private organizations is multi-layered and highly efficient, but it is, after all, a net not a pillow. Nets have holes.
Looking at the many unmet needs it’s easy to be intimidated by the scale and we feel justified in our indifference because, “Hey, I pay my taxes and contribute to charities, don’t I? What more can I do, right? I’m just one person.”
Here is a condensed version of a one of my favorite stories, which was created my friend and favorite futurist, Joel Barker, who was inspired by Loren Eiselely’s book Starthrower.
A man was walking on a familiar stretch of beach one morning after a storm. Up ahead he could see a stranger coming toward him. The stranger was continually stooping over, picking up something and tossing it in the ocean. Finally, the man could see that the stranger was throwing some of the thousands of tiny starfish the storm had washed up on the beach overnight.
As the two men drew near and exchanged greetings, the man commended the stranger for his efforts, but also commented on the futility of such a task. “There must be hundreds of thousands of starfish on this beach. How could one person possibly make a difference?” Picking up another tiny starfish and tossing it back into the ocean, the stranger answered, “Made a difference to that one, didn’t I?”
Here’s a pledge I will make to you and ask you to consider making: As I race through my hectic, self-important life, at least once a day I will try to make a difference in another person’s life.
Could be as simple as holding a door, patting a back, giving a compliment, noticing a frown. Or perhaps something a little more involved like checking on someone with a call or visit, creating an opportunity, providing a meal, (your idea here).
With a world full of unmet needs, at the end of the day at least we can say, “Made a difference to that one, didn’t I?”
At this time every year I like to remind small business owners to do what grandma used to do after a long winter. She called it “spring cleaning.” So let’s do the same thing, but let’s do it now, in December.
December Cleaning will give your business the maximum opportunity to start 2014 with as little 2013 baggage as possible. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Lose the graveyard
Every business has a digital graveyard. Unused or broken computers, monitors, etc., may have some value. Call a tech recycler and convert it into cash. Even if you donate it or throw it away, it’s out of your way.
Retool the team
The only thing worse than firing someone is letting an unproductive employee hold your team’s performance hostage for another year. You owe productive people the most effective organization possible, which often means you have to let the unproductive ones pursue their careers elsewhere. There is never a good time to fire an employee. But if you’re squeamish about letting someone go during the holidays, give them extra severance.
Clean out customers
Reevaluate the profitability of customers and put them into four groups, from the most profitable As to the least profitable Ds. Worship the As, cater to the Bs, encourage the Cs and teach the Ds about self-service. When the cost of a customer’s expectations exceeds their profitability with you, they should be allowed to join your unproductive employees – elsewhere.
As with customers, take a new look at inventory by identifying the most profitable As to the least profitable Ds. Stock all the As, a few of the Bs and maybe a couple of Cs, but never let a D spend one night under your roof unless it’s paid for. Remember, profitable inventory management means just-in-time, not just-in-case.
Take the hit and write off uncollectable accounts receivable now, so you can start January with a clean list. A/R write-offs are tax deductions this year, but become gravy if you collect them next year.
Each new year deserves to have the maximum opportunity to be successful, so don’t saddle it with this year’s obsolescence and bad decisions. By taking these steps you’ll prove to yourself – and your banker – that you have the discipline to make critical decisions for which successful managers are known
Smart managers spring clean their businesses in December.
Be sure to check out my latest segment from The Small Business Advocate Show®. I reveal my “December cleaning” ideas for helping your business start the new year without the baggage and bad decisions of the previous year. Click the link below to listen!
As the 17th century dawned, cause-and-effect was merging parallel universes.
In the Old World, a decision by a group of Leiden Separatists put them on a circuitous journey. Meanwhile, in the New World, a manchild named Tisquantum was born to the Wampanoag Indians.
Both the Separatists and Tisquantum became very important to our future, but not before their lives would change and intertwine in ways not to be imagined by either.
Incredibly, first as a hostage and later as an interpreter, Tisquantum crossed the Atlantic six times. On his odyssey, Tisquantum learned Old World languages that, combined with his New World survival skills, would contribute to his rendezvous with destiny.
During their journeys, both experienced a name change: The Separatists became Pilgrims and Tisquantum became Squanto. And as the Pilgrims prepared for their first Atlantic crossing, Squanto made his last.
Arriving at his birthplace in 1619, Squanto found that his entire village and family had been wiped out by an epidemic.
On the day after Christmas, 1620, with the Mayflower Compact in hand, the Pilgrims came ashore at what is now Massachusetts, on a place they named Plymouth, after the city where their voyage began.
he Pilgrims’ first winter in the New World was brutal; less than half of the 102 colonists survived to spring. Then on March 16th, 1621, an Indian named Samoset walked up to the Pilgrims and said, “Hello, English.” Very soon he recognized that these sad-looking folks needed help from someone who spoke better English.
The two universes finally converged and cause-and-effect met humanity as Samoset brought Squanto to the Pilgrims. In one of the great moments of serendipity, it turns out “Plymouth” was the very spot of Squanto’s ill-fated village.
Squanto spent the rest of 1621 befriending the Pilgrims and teaching them how to survive in the New World. It’s clear that his contribution was critical to the survival of these important American forebears.
When the courage and convictions of one group of individuals converged with the humanity of two others, something special happened: Part of the foundation of the most benevolent nation in history was born.
This week we give thanks for these individuals and the blessings that have accrued to us 393 years later.
One person can make a difference. Happy Thanksgiving.
Be sure to listen to my segments below from The Small Business Advocate Show® celebrating Thanksgiving.
How confident are you that the Obama administration will be able to fix the problems with Obamacare?
00% - Somewhat confident
100%- No confidence
We’ve polled our online audience several times regarding their attitude about and experience with Obamacare. Most of our respondents, but certainly not all, have been negative toward the law in past polls. But this week something happened that has NEVER happened in more than three years of our weekly poll: the response was 100% for a single option. As you can see above, not even those who have in the past favored Obamacare believe that the problems with this law can and will be fixed.
Such are the wages of ideological arrogance by any political party, to believe it could unilaterally reorder one-sixth of the economy and replace a 200-year-old marketplace that touches every citizen so intimately, merely by government fiat. Here’s my prediction: Obamacare will go down in history as a pejorative reference and metaphor on the scale of Watergate.
Americans punctuate each year with the Thanksgiving holiday as a way of perpetuating a 390-year-old tradition begun by a rag-tag group of our forebears. That first time, in 1621, thanksgiving day wasn’t the proper noun it became. It was just a day set aside by a few dozen humans who risked everything, actually lost most of it, were hard-by to any number of dangers that could cost them the rest, but still felt compelled to be thankful for what they had.
Regardless of where you live on planet Earth, let me leave you with a list of things to think about. This is not my list. When we’ve published it before in this space with attribution to Anonymous, some of my readers have attributed it to Mother (Saint) Theresa, which suits me just fine. I’m thankful I found it and have the ability to pass it along.
Be thankful for the clothes that fit a little too snug, because it means you have enough to eat.
Be thankful for the mess you clean up after a party, because it means you have been surrounded by friends.
Be thankful for the taxes you pay, because it means you’re employed.
Be thankful that your lawn needs mowing and your windows need fixing, because it means you have a home.
Be thankful for your heating bill, because it means you are warm.
Be thankful for the laundry, because it means you have clothes to wear.
Be thankful for the space you find at the far end of the parking lot, because it means you can walk.
Be thankful for the lady who sings off key behind you in church, because it means you can hear.
Be thankful for the alarm that goes off in the early morning, because it means you are alive.
And finally, here is mine: I’m thankful for small business owners - the most courageous and most important modern-day pilgrims I know.
Thanks for being part of my community. I’ll see you on the radio and the Internet.