Monthly Archive for May, 2013

Freedom isn’t free

Contemplating the blessing of freedom, wherever it may be found, one prime truth is evident: Freedom is not free. And for those of us who are the beneficiaries of those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom, the only method of repayment - the only way we can ever be worthy of their sacrifice - is if we do all we can to maintain the freedom that has been paid for and given to us.

This is the 11th year I’ve published the poem below on Memorial Day. It was written by Commander Kelly Strong, USCG (Ret.) in 1981 when he was a high school senior (JROTC cadet) at Homestead High School, Homestead, FL. It is a tribute to his father, a career marine who served two tours in Vietnam.

Freedom Isn’t Free

I watched the flag pass by one day.
It fluttered in the breeze.
A young Marine saluted it,
And then he stood at ease.
I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud,
With hair cut square and eyes alert
He’d stand out in any crowd.
I thought how many men like him
Had fallen through the years.
How many died on foreign soil?
How many mothers’ tears?
How many pilots’ planes shot down?
How many died at sea?
How many foxholes were soldiers’ graves?
No, freedom isn’t free.

I heard the sound of taps one night,
When everything was still
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.
I wondered just how many times
That taps had meant “Amen,”
When a flag had draped a coffin
Of a brother or a friend.
I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.
I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea
Of unmarked graves in Arlington.
No, freedom isn’t free.

My friends, I pray that we never forget those who paid so dearly for our freedom. Have a safe, happy and respectful Memorial Day.

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SBA Poll: Constitutional limits and the president

The Question:
Constitutional limits can be troublesome for any president. How do you think Obama is treating it?

0% - Obama has done nothing to abuse the Constitution.

81% - Obama’s Constitutional abuses are unprecedented.

19% - Obama is not doing anything other president haven’t done.

My Comments:
It’s not good when 100% of our respondents think the current President of the United States is either abusing the Constitution in an unprecedented way, or no worse than any other President. Both responses should trouble all Americans, regardless of their political affiliations or ideology.

This isn’t a political party problem, my friends. It’s an American problem. We must fix it.

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Remember America’s militia on Memorial Day

Reasonable people disagree on the origins of Memorial Day. But most accept that the practice of decorating graves of Americans who died in military service began in earnest during the Civil War.

On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan, Commander of the Army of the Republic, made Memorial Day official with General Order No. 11, which stated in part, “… the 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country …” And other than Congress making Memorial Day a national holiday on the last Monday in May, America has since honored its fallen heroes from all conflicts pretty much as General Logan ordered.

When America issued its first call to arms – before it had a professional army – that call went to the militia, which was identified as “all able-bodied men.” Called “Minutemen,” because they could be ready to fight on a minute’s notice, they were primarily shopkeepers, craftsmen, farmers, etc. Today, we call them small business owners.

From as far away as Scotland, America’s Minutemen were impressive. Writing about the colonies’ quest for independence in “The Wealth of Nations,” Adam Smith predicted America would prevail thanks to its militia which, “…turns from its primary citizen character into a standing army.”

Early in the 20th century, state militias became the National Guard and the National Defense Act created the Reserves. In every war or conflict since, America has deployed National Guard and Reserves alongside regular forces, where they represented a proportional number of casualties.

On this Memorial Day, as we honor all who paid the ultimate price in service to this country, let’s also remember the long tradition of America’s militia, including small business owners and employees, who served honorably and courageously on behalf of a grateful nation. It’s hard enough leaving family to march into harm’s way. But the degree of difficulty of that commitment is compounded for volunteers who also disconnect from businesses and full-time careers.

Contemplating the blessing of freedom wherever it may be found, there is one prime truth: Freedom is not free. As beneficiaries of those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom, our only method of repayment — the only way we can ever be worthy of their sacrifice — is if we do all we can to maintain the freedom that they paid for and gave to us.

God bless those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom.

Listen to my latest segments on The Small Business Advocate Show about Memorial Day. Click on the link below to download or listen.

Memorial Day Show Archive

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SBA Poll- Is there a vacation in your future?

The Question:
Will you be able to take time off from your business for vacation this summer?

43% - Yes, for at least a week

49% - Yes, but only a couple of days at a time

9% - No. Can’t afford the expense or the time away

My Comments:
Here’s an old small business joke:

A small business owner is talking with an acquaintance and is asked, “How’s it going?” To which the business owner says, “Things are getting better; I’m down to working half days.” When the friend congratulates him, obviously impressed, the small business owner says, “Yes, it’s great; I even get to choose which 12 hours.”

As you can see from our poll last week, 91% of our respondents expect to take some time off for a vacation this summer, with the rest admitting they “… can’t afford the expense or time.” Regardless of whether you’re talking about vacation or just an occasional day off, any time a small business owner gets away from the business is a well-earned and richly deserved.

Hope you get to get away this year. Good luck.

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Video-Do you prefer achievement or success?

In this week’s video I list Dr. Gene Griessman’s 5 common characteristics of high achievement and explain the details of each.

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Integrity has no need of rules

While talking with an attorney friend of mine, our topic of discussion was about professional behavior in the marketplace. She reminded me that attorneys have very specific ethical and professional standards that are published, plus a well developed monitoring organization, complete with sanctioning authority.

The story is quite similar for CPA’s, architects, medical doctors, or any securities representative such as stock brokers, financial planners, etc. Much of the behavioral track these professionals run on is pretty well spelled out for them. Not that the members of these groups need to be led or coerced into good professional behavior. It’s just that, when in doubt, they have published guidelines with which to refer.

Small business owners operate in the same marketplace as the so-called professionals. Indeed, they are often our clients and customers. We serve the same businesses and consumers as other professionals, plus we enter into similar relationships, contracts and agreements. And we often find ourselves perched precariously on the same horns-of-a-dilemma as other professionals. But here’s the difference: The Universal Small Business Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics doesn’t exist.

Small business owners, like all humans, ultimately behave according to their own moral compass, sense of fair play and inclination to deal in good faith. When we find ourselves in a quandary over how to respond to a difficult situation with a customer that is in the gray area of a contract, we’re on our own. When we are faced with an ethical issue that would challenge King Solomon, there is no sanctioning body or support group to dial up, or to whom we can email a “scenario.”

There are many ancient codes small business owners can turn to for behavioral guidance in the marketplace, such as the last three of the Ten Commandments. But in terms of a handy guide, I think philosopher and 1957 Nobel Prize winner for literature, Albert Camus, may have given us the best ethical vector when he wrote, “Integrity has no need of rules.”

Wise small business owners know that life is much simpler, and exceedingly more rewarding, when we just do the right thing.

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Back in September I wrote about the Small Business Code of Ethics and received great feedback from colleagues and small business owners. Check out the article below and let me know what you think.

Observing the Small Business Code of Ethics

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