Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 at a Glance...

2011 was a big year for me... I spent some time today reflecting on all the things that happened and I have come to realize I am truly blessed. I moved to a new state (4th one in 3 years), went to New York with my brothers, my best friend got married, and I crossed a few things off my 'list'. 

Let's take a look at the things I crossed off my list...

Go skydiving

  I went with my friend Ben back in April and it was beautiful weather for it. It was hands-down the most exhilarating thing I have ever done. If an opportunity arises, I will definitely be doing it again.




of 
 Go to the top of the Empire State Building

I got to tackle this one when I went to New York with my brother's this summer. I didn't see Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan up there but it was fun. It's so much fun to do these trips with my brothers. All the different personalities make for a great time. 



Learn to ride a motorcycle

I took a week long class riding motorcycles with my friend Justin. Then I got a call that I was to be moving to Illinois the following week. So Justin got a Harley but I did not... One day... It was a fun class though. I met some interesting people and learned something new... too bad I don't get to use it.




I had a great year, but I am going to make 2012 even better. I already have a few things in the works to get knocked off my list... including: taking the whole family on vacation, swim with a dolphin, and eat tacos in mexico (little nervous about how that one will go). And who knows what other fun things I might be able to accomplish. 

I hope you all had a great year and I hope nothing but great things for your 2012 as well!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Anonymous donors pay off Kmart layaway accounts

I heard a recent report that people are buying more this time of the year than the same time last year, however, people are spending their money on gifts for themselves more than other people. It makes sense I suppose. People have saved a little bit of money, but most people haven't bought something for themselves in quite some time. So when the sales kick in for those flat screen TVs are you going to pass it up so you can buy your cousin a new toaster? 
But while many are spending those saved dollars selfishly, you have another set of people, like the people in this article that acted so incredibly selflessly that it gives people hope in such desperate times. This article is heartwarming. 

By Margery a. Beck, Associated Press | AP – Fri, Dec 16, 2011 11:33 AM EST
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- The young father stood in line at the Kmartlayaway counter, wearing dirty clothes and worn-out boots. With him were three small children.
He asked to pay something on his bill because he knew he wouldn't be able to afford it all before Christmas. Then a mysterious woman stepped up to the counter.
"She told him, 'No, I'm paying for it,'" recalled Edna Deppe, assistant manager at the store in Indianapolis. "He just stood there and looked at her and then looked at me and asked if it was a joke. I told him it wasn't, and that she was going to pay for him. And he just busted out in tears."
At Kmart stores across the country, Santa seems to be getting some help: Anonymous donors are paying off strangers' layaway accounts, buying the Christmas gifts other families couldn't afford, especially toys and children's clothes set aside by impoverished parents.
Before she left the store Tuesday evening, the Indianapolis woman in her mid-40s had paid the layaway orders for as many as 50 people. On the way out, she handed out $50 bills and paid for two carts of toys for a woman in line at the cash register.
"She was doing it in the memory of her husband who had just died, and she said she wasn't going to be able to spend it and wanted to make people happy with it," Deppe said. The woman did not identify herself and only asked people to "remember Ben," an apparent reference to her husband.
Deppe, who said she's worked in retail for 40 years, had never seen anything like it.
"It was like an angel fell out of the sky and appeared in our store," she said.
Most of the donors have done their giving secretly.
Dona Bremser, an Omaha nurse, was at work when a Kmart employee called to tell her that someone had paid off the $70 balance of her layaway account, which held nearly $200 in toys for her 4-year-old son.
"I was speechless," Bremser said. "It made me believe in Christmas again."
Dozens of other customers have received similar calls in Nebraska, Michigan, Iowa, Indiana and Montana.
The benefactors generally ask to help families who are squirreling away items for young children. They often pay a portion of the balance, usually all but a few dollars or cents so the layaway order stays in the store's system.
The phenomenon seems to have begun in Michigan before spreading, Kmart executives said.
"It is honestly being driven by people wanting to do a good deed at this time of the year," said Salima Yala, Kmart's division vice president for layaway.
The good Samaritans seem to be visiting mainly Kmart stores, though a Wal-Mart spokesman said a few of his stores in Joplin, Mo., and Chicago have also seen some layaway accounts paid off.
Kmart representatives say they did nothing to instigate the secret Santas or spread word of the generosity. But it's happening as the company struggles to compete with chains such as Wal-Mart and Target.
Kmart may be the focus of layaway generosity, Yala said, because it is one of the few large discount stores that has offered layaway year-round for about four decades. Under the program, customers can make purchases but let the store hold onto their merchandise as they pay it off slowly over several weeks.
The sad memories of layaways lost prompted at least one good Samaritan to pay off the accounts of five people at an Omaha Kmart, said Karl Graff, the store's assistant manager.
"She told me that when she was younger, her mom used to set up things on layaway at Kmart, but they rarely were able to pay them off because they just didn't have the money for it," Graff said.
He called a woman who had been helped, "and she broke down in tears on the phone with me. She wasn't sure she was going to be able to pay off their layaway and was afraid their kids weren't going to have anything for Christmas."
"You know, 50 bucks may not sound like a lot, but I tell you what, at the right time, it may as well be a million dollars for some people," Graff said.
Graff's store alone has seen about a dozen layaway accounts paid off in the last 10 days, with the donors paying $50 to $250 on each account.
"To be honest, in retail, it's easy to get cynical about the holidays, because you're kind of grinding it out when everybody else is having family time," Graff said. "It's really encouraging to see this side of Christmas again."
Lori Stearnes of Omaha also benefited from the generosity of a stranger who paid all but $58 of her $250 layaway bill for toys for her four youngest grandchildren.
Stearnes said she and her husband live paycheck to paycheck, but she plans to use the money she was saving for the toys to help pay for someone else's layaway.
In Missoula, Mont., a man spent more than $1,200 to pay down the balances of six customers whose layaway orders were about to be returned to a Kmart store's inventory because of late payments.
Store employees reached one beneficiary on her cellphone at Seattle Children's Hospital, where her son was being treated for an undisclosed illness.
"She was yelling at the nurses, 'We're going to have Christmas after all!'" store manager Josine Murrin said.
A Kmart in Plainfield Township, Mich., called Roberta Carter last week to let her know a man had paid all but 40 cents of her $60 layaway.
Carter, a mother of eight from Grand Rapids, Mich., said she cried upon hearing the news. She and her family have been struggling as she seeks a full-time job.
"My kids will have clothes for Christmas," she said.
Angie Torres, a stay-at-home mother of four children under the age of 8, was in the Indianapolis Kmart on Tuesday to make a payment on her layaway bill when she learned the woman next to her was paying off her account.
"I started to cry. I couldn't believe it," said Torres, who doubted she would have been able to pay off the balance. "I was in disbelief. I hugged her and gave her a kiss."

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Allstate Commercials...

As far as insurance commercials go, I am pretty sure the Allstate Mayhem commercials take the cake! You have Progressive commercials with Flo (my least favorite commercials ever made!), there is the Geico gecko and caveman commercials, the Farmer's School commercials (also pretty good). However, the mayhem commercials are exactly what you need from a commerical - the customer gets excited when it's on, it's not too long, and it doesn't get old.

Enjoy this montage of Mayhem commercials!

The posts will be quite short the next couple weeks because I am putting in a lot of time at work. Lots of big things happening!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! In light of the holiday, I recommend you spend time with family and count the things your thankful for. I am surrounded by great people and am blessed daily.

Hope no one got hurt shopping yesterday!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

LASIK...

Last week I made a great decision. I got LASIK. It's incredible. To anyone that has been on the fence about getting it: you definitely should. Not only for the lifestyle benefits, but also the financial benefits.

You go into the office on surgery day and get checked out to make sure the overall health of the eye is still what it was in your pre-op visits. And then you go into the laser room. They put some numbing drops in your eye over and over again so you won't feel anything, along with some other drops. Then they prop your eye ball open so you can't blink. They use a laser to cut a flap of your cornea open (some offices still use a blade). Then I believe they use a separate laser to reshape the cornea. They can fix nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatisms. The weirdest part of the whole thing is that you can see them working on your eye and bend back the flap of your cornea and you can also smell you cornea being burnt off. It smells kind of like hair burning. It's completely painless though. The craziest thing is that I had both eyes done and I was in the doctors office a total of 30 minutes on surgery day and in the laser room for maybe 8 minutes. The next day you have a few eye drops that you put in hourly. Keeping your eye moist and able to heal.

I keep waking up expecting to not be able to see again, but alas, still have great vision. On the day after my surgery I was already seeing with 20/15 vision according to my next day doctor visit. It's incredible.

You see a lot of haloing around lights at night and star bursting too, but it's been getting better and better.

As far as the financial benefits... The average contacts wearer is going to pay about $250 a year between eye doctor, contacts, and supplies. And then an additional $200 every two years for new glasses. I would even argue the cost can be much greater too. LASIK costs about $4600 or $4000 in some places if you pay cash.  That means that with these numbers pulled from my own experience, over 15 years having bad vision costs about $5000.

In summation, I encourage you to live a better life and save some money over the next decade and a half and get some LASIK done. I've been impressed, if you have any questions about it, I'm not a doctor but I can tell you about my own experience!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

EntreLeadership Part 2...


Last week I started writing about Dave Ramsey's book EntreLeadership and this week I'll dish out some more Ramsey wisdom. The second half of the book was just as good or better than the first half. It's few and far between to find a leadership book with 300+ pages that can keep it's momentum and not get repetitive.

This week had some great content, but it true Ramsey style, I'll talk about money this week. Ramsey talks about start-up finances and compensation for employees. 

As far as starting a business, Ramsey contends that there is no reason to take out debt to get it off the ground. According to the Bureau of Census's data, 60% of businesses opened within a given year require less than $5000 to get started. You don't need brand new equipment or a fancy new building. There are two aspects to profit, revenue and expenses, so why shouldn't you attempt to decrease expenses in the start-up of your new venture? How often do you hear about businesses that are now trading of the stock exchange that started in someone's garage? Starting slow and minimizing your scale early makes the mistakes you make early on small enough you can recover easily. If you are up to your neck in debt with a new mortgage and loaned out equipment, the first botched order or clerical mistake might cost you the whole business. It's important to have controlled scaling when starting a brand new business. And the easiest way to control scale is to start small.

Even large items don't have to require you to assume debt. Ramsey has a philosophy to rent until you can afford to pay with cash. If you are renting a large piece of equipment, it doesn't control your business. However, if you buy a $50,000 piece of machinery but the orders for that specific product dry up, you incur the costs of you debt with no revenue to show profit. If your orders are dried up long enough, depending on how small you business is, that piece of equipment's payments will soon break you. Or if you sell the piece of equipment, and you are likely not able to get out of it what you paid for it and end up taking a huge loss. I think it's a lot less risky to avoid taking out loans, especially large loans. Don't start a business and let your debt situation control your business decisions. It kind of defeats the goals of being an entrepreneur. 

Dave also talks about compensation and I like his approach. He wants everyone in the company to have a entrepreneurial spirit that works for him. And to make that happen, each person has to have something to gain from the success of the company. That is why everyone in his company works off commission or gets some form of profit sharing. Even if there is salary tied in with the commission or profit-sharing, the person is still inclined to perform better. This also weeds out ineffective people very well too. If they can't perform then they don't make very much money and leave. Ramsey said he would make his receptionists commission based if he could figure out a way. The thing you want to avoid is having an entitlement mentality within an organization and if someone is solely salary based then they start to expect their pay. Not their fault, they are a product of their organization. If someone gets a bonus or compensation or profit share, they are involved and their performance can directly affect the pay they get, so they are more inclined to work harder if they want more money. 

I think if you are starting up a new venture, having someone commission based it huge. It limits costs and generally people that are willing to come to a start-up and accept a commission based salary have an entrepreneurial spirit which is exactly what you need. 

EntreLeadership is a fantastic book and I think if you are a Dave Ramsey type of person it could easily be your handbook to starting a new company. I encourage you to pick up this book, it's a winner.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

EntreLeadership Part 1...


Very few books have have been good enough and contained enough content to require two posts. However, Dave Ramsey's new EntreLeadership fits the bill. The book walks the reader through Ramsey's idea of an EntreLeader. It's a mix of an entrepreneur and a leader. I think it has kind of a nice ring to it.

Ramsey is mainly known for his work with starting Financial Peace University and his radio show about personal finance. But, Dave is clearly an expert in another field too, starting and running a successful business. Ramsey's story is that he made his first fortune with real estate and quickly borrowed his way to having a net worth of millions of dollars, but when bad went to worse, the debt worked against him with a vengeance and he found himself bankrupt and at rock bottom. He went on to pick himself back up and build his second million dollar business, but this time without using debt. His advice about starting and running a business comes from years and years of experience.

I wish I could cover everything from the first half of this book because it is just filled with excellent content. However, I will encourage you to pick up this book for yourself. What I will discuss is goals and decision making. I talk a lot about goals on this blog, but that's only because I think they are incredibly important to being a successful business person and human being.

Goals are broken into 7 main areas:

1.Career
2.Financial
3.Spiritual
4.Physical
5.Intellectual
6.Family
7.Social

Ramsey writes about the importance of having very specific goals with a time frame. If you don't have both, you don't know what you are going for or what time frame to which you are confined. Let me use the example from the book that illustrates excellent goal setting in all it's glory.

A young salesman that worked for Ramsey set his goal as making a $100,000 a year (Very specific and has a great time frame). The salesman worked on commission of 10% so he needed to bring in $1 million in revenue in a year to hit the goal... meaning $83,000 a month, or about $21,000 a week. The math was really easy for him to figure out because everyone knew what the average ticket sale contract went for so he could easily figure how many contracts he needed to sell a week to hit his goal (He could even break it down by the day if he needed). He needed 64 quality contracts a week to hit his goal. Since the salesman knew exactly what he needed to do to hit his goal, it made the choice clear when he needed to stay late and when he needed to come in early. "Winning is hard work -- there are no substitutes."

Within the same story it mentioned that after several weeks of over-64-quality-contract weeks, the salesman's numbers started to drop. So then it became Ramsey's job to follow up with that salesman and give some teachable wisdom. And then his numbers shot back up. It's a leader's job to be aware of a team's goals and supervise, encourage, and coach.

Another thing Ramsey says about goals is that they need to be your goals. If you don't own your goals then you won't be passionate enough about them to make it through the obstacles. And most goals worth having will have obstacles, the bigger the goals the bigger the obstacles. If you care deeply enough about what you are doing than you will work your way anything that comes your way. It's also important to be a leader that leads with goals in mind. If you don't have goals then you can't expect your team to have goals. It's extremely important to have specific goals for your organization and then to believe in those goals enough to take action.

"I think there is something more important than believing: Action! The world is full of dreamers, there aren't enough who will move ahead and begin to take concrete steps to actualize their vision." - W. Clement Stone

Decisions is the other topic I want to talk about this week. The book makes an excellent observation, that a decision becomes more obvious, the more information you have. Think about a time when you have two things you are deciding on, like, you are looking at two houses for purchase. The more information and investigating you do the more obvious the right choice becomes. Additionally, the bigger the decision, the more information is needed to make the right decision. Picking out what flavor of gum at checkout in a grocery store = small decision (although sometimes you'll be driven crazy by the people that hold up the line because they can't decide on this) and on the other end making a $20,000 advertising decision = big decision. (However, it is the hope that one day you will get to the point that deciding on a $20k anything is no bigger a decision that choosing a pack of gum today).

Ramsey also makes the observation that there is nothing that freezes progress within an organization like indecisiveness. After working in the 'real world' for some time now, I have concluded that there is no more valuable trait within a person than the ability to make a decision. It's shocking how difficult it is for some people to make a simple decision. Indecision is a killer of organizations. It drives the best people in the organization crazy, and away from the organization. And it destroys relationships. Indecision happens to all of us to some degree, but that's why it is important to lead a culture of decision making. Identify what causes the indecision and cast it out. Fear and criticism are the main proponents of indecision. When you identify which of these it is and work through it, you break down your barriers. Identification of the causes of indecision is part of the information process, and now we know that the more information you have the easier the decision. I like the worst-case scenario the most. When you are having a tough time making a decision think about the worst-case scenario if you make the wrong choice. A lot of the time the worst-case scenario does not end with a life or death situation. Making the wrong decision happens to everyone, the important part is that you acted. And when a decision goes bad, remember that bad decisions are something to learn from. The greatest Greats had the most experience and you don't get lots of experience without learning from bad decisions.

Alright, Prepare yourself for some more information next week from this same book. We will be talking about Ramsey's philosophies of funding a business. Get excited!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Great Business...

If you follow investment news, you know that Amazon shook things up this week. Amazon stood up against Wall Street, as they always have done, by maintaining their own company philosophies instead of giving into what Wall Street analysts say they should do. A lot of companies, well basically all, big publicly traded companies do what Wall Street says they should do because then Wall Street gets what they want and investors put money in the company's pot. However, the analysts only tell companies to do things that benefit the short-term gains. They don't really care what the company is going to look like 5, 10, 20 years from now. They only care about the here and now, what returns they can show in their own and client's portfolio. 

However, back to Amazon... Amazon showed net income dropping 73% compared to last year's numbers. This was a result of very tactful and strategic leadership by CEO Jeff Bezos. Bezos is looking toward the future and that means that Amazon will need to gain market share. Particularly, the market share of the e-reader industry. Amazon knows that if they allow Apple's iPad to dominate the market then they will be dependent on an Apple product to sell their e-reader products. Which consumer trending shows it's slowly becoming the norm. So Amazon tactfully took losses on their new Kindle Fire so they could saturate the market, allowing them to avoid being at the mercy of Apple for the sales of their products and also making Kindle Fire a household name. It's a very impressive move by a company that is clearly not just a bubble. Too many companies are in it for quarter to quarter gains, but it's few and far between to see a company with selfless level 5 leadership. After Amazon's third quarter report was issued the stock price dropped from $240 to $201. Wall Street wasn't happy and was trying to prove a point, but Amazon is quickly seeing correction closing Friday at $217. You can't keep a great company down.

Amazon is a extremely smart company. I think they have an excellent business model and are growing fast. Just don't mistake this company for a bubble. They have shown they are more than willing to give up short-term gains for long-term company growth. I only invest in companies I believe in and I do believe in this company.

It's just nice to see a company stand up for it's beliefs in this Dog eat Dog world. In a way, it's very inspiring to me. Hope you all had a great week! Enjoy Halloween!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Putting the One Minute Manager to Work...


The book of the week was Putting the One Minute Manager to Work by Ken Blanchard and Robert Lorber. It was a pretty good book and I am surprised I hadn't read it before now. The series of One Minute books are a hit because they are short and have some really smart ideas. Usually the ideas are very basic, but very smart. In this particular book the authors started it off by talking about how companies bring in a new book or management technique every year and don't truly follow through with the management styles they spend time initiating. So this book acts as a follow up to the One Minute Manger, encouraging the reader to keep with it.

I first wrote about the One Minute Manger in 2009 with the following post:

The book is written in a fictional story format, however, the principles can also explained in a list format which is what I will focus on for this week's blog. The three key tools used by the manager in this book were The One Minute Goal Setting, The One Minute Praising, and The One Minute Reprimand.

The One Minute Goal Setting- Each employee writes down their goals on about half a page. Something that can be read in 1 minute if needed. I think having goals is the best way to make big things happen. You will have a hard time getting someone from point A to point B if they don't know what or where either one of those points are... so help your team set goals.

The One Minute Praising- You need to praise your people... The one thing humans crave more than anything on Earth is attention. When you give people attention for doing good things, they want to do more good things. Praising is one of the most affective and simple ways to get a person to do something. Take, for example, a baby, when they are getting ready to take their first steps. At first they may get up and stumble the first time and hit the ground, but parents are around to cheer them on and give them big hugs for their attempt. Then the next day the baby liked that treatment, so they try again... after a few times the baby actually takes their first full steps and is given more praise than ever before! Then the parents use the same "management strategy" to encourage the first words out of a baby, then good grammar, great driving habits, and before you know it you have a full grown kid living in Minneapolis, working 60 hours a week, starting a real estate business and writing a book blog in his little free time.

The One Minute Reprimand- This book's One Minute Manager uses the technique of watching for his employees to do the "right thing." However, when he saw something that was below their ability they would get a reprimand because he wanted to reinforce that they could do better. This is one of the most difficult skill sets to master as a management professional. It is difficult because you need to reprimand a behavior and not the person.

The book gave a clever story of a couple trying to train their dog to do it's business outside. When the dog made an accident on the rug the couple would take the dog and shove it's face in it and then throw him out the window in the kitchen into the backyard. The couple asked if this was a good technique and they were told they were just training their dog to jump out the window after it had an accident on the rug. People, like animals, need to know the ultimate goal before they can try to replicate it. Humans are easier to train than animals because we speak the same language. Once the person knows what the goal is they will try to make it happen for their craved praising. And if you know they have the ability to reach that goal and they intentionally fall short it may be time for a reprimand.

Leading people is a very important skill set! I can't stress how much it can make your life and the lives of those around you more successful. To lead people you just need to leave the bread crumbs... just like the child we were training in the analogy earlier... once the baby was able to walk you don't jump up and down every time they walk for the rest of their lives. You go on to the next skill you would like to train them on... after they have all the skills you are able to train them on they will go on to be as good or better than you... and that is what we want of those around us right? To live great big successful lives? And doing this will make your life easier.... if you train someone to do everything you know how to do, you have an easier load because you have employees that are capable of handling all the responsibilities that at one time were all on your shoulders. Great managers have much more available time than poor managers...



The ideas from this book that I think are important to add to the ideas above are best summed up in a chart within the current book:
This lays it all out. Set your Goals, follow up with Praise or Reprimand, to change Behavior. Managing people really is this simple. It's just putting it to practice that starts to get tough. It's too easy to reprimand people instead of coach and train them and it's too easy to forget about praising people all together or to do it all too seldom. The formula is simple, but it's definitely not easy.

Another thing I like was the idea of resetting goals and evaluate when someone needs reprimanding. 

If a person CAN'T DO something ---> Go Back to Goal Setting because it's a training problem.

If a person WON'T DO something ---> Reprimand because it's an attitude problem.

1. Tell a person how to do something
2. Show how to do it
3. Let the person try
4. Observe performance
5. Praise progress or redirect and train

Managing and leading people is one of the most important skill sets a person can attain in our ever-changing world. When you open yourself up to new ideas in the field of leadership and development you open yourself to new and better ways of changing people's behaviors. If you can master changing behaviors you are forever an asset not only to your company but, also, your church, organizations, and even family. I hear there is a lot of behavior changing needed when raising children. 

This book was good. It's a fictional story with lots of good ideas. I particularly like the way these stories were written because they do a great job of creating scenarios where the ideas are practiced. If you have any questions about this book or The One Minute Manager don't hesitate to ask!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Common Sense Investing...


The book I read this week is Common Sense Investing by Rick Van Ness. It's a pretty awesome little book. It is a short book that walks the first time investor through the basics of getting started. And the reader can do great at investing without reading another book because the book follows the principles of investing laid out by John C. Bogle.

I think it would be ideal for every high school senior in America to have a class based around this book. There are so many benefits if the average investor starts early. Just $100 a month goes a long, long way! Rick Van Ness discusses these simple ideas and a few more. He goes into detail explaining the benefits of long-term investing in low-cost index funds. He even has very much the same ratio of Vanguard investing that I currently use... same funds too. No doubt the Boglehead in each of us coming out. (Referencing our admiration for the investing styles of John C. Bogle.) And I think it's completely necessary to go into great detail, as he did, and really drive in the need for someone to put their money into a fund and then walk away from it. It goes against our very nature. When investing during the long-term you are bound to see recessions and possibly depressions, and people want to take their money out of investments during these time periods and put it under their mattresses. However, like I have said many times, this is not a good strategy. It is important to hold tight and let the market run it's course because over the long-term you will come out ahead!

Now there is one very simple idea that is written about in this book. The idea of figuring out what big purchases you are going to be saving for, the time you have to save, and the amount of total money needed. Writing down these things is a really good way to brainstorm your budgeting plan. The alternative is just having an account set aside and just saving. But ultimately, you should incorporate basic goal planning strategy into all areas of your life, including personal finance. And basic goal planning strategy dictates that you should plan be specific and have a timeline set on your goals. The goals laid out in this book go like this:


Big Ticket Items
Money Needed
When
Newer Car
$15,000
5 years
House (down payment)
$20,000
7 years
Retirement
$1,000,000
25 years

From here, it's pretty easy. You can evaluate how these goals fit your current income and do some simple division to figure out how much you need to save each month to make your goals come to light. So with the above examples you should be putting away $250 a month for a newer car, $240 a month for a down payment, and, hopefully, you have started investing before you have 25 years left to make your million dollar mark. But if you don't have any money put away and you are 40 years old and want to retire at 65 you should be putting away about $11,000 a year into a index fund assuming a 11% return. My suggestion is to put anything less than 5 years in a money market or high-yield savings account if you are being conservative, and definitely anything less than 1 year. I like ING accounts and personally I would put both my down payment and new car into different ING accounts and turn on automatic withdrawal so you absolutely pay yourself first once you get your paycheck.

I really liked this book. I think it's very concise and it gives the reader just the right amount of information while also providing excellent resources in case their appetite wasn't quite satisfied. I suggest you pick up a copy for yourself or a friend. If you have any questions about anything, don't hesitate to ask!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Change...

This week I want to talk about change. As you all most likely know, Steve Jobs passed away earlier this week. I am not at all one for getting really emotional when someone passes away, especially when I didn't know the person. But Steve Jobs definitely had an impact on the world. Lately there have been a lot of clips floating around of Job's Stanford Commencement Address in 2005. I didn't see this speech until earlier this week and am disappointed I hadn't seen it earlier. Let's break and watch the whole thing, the clips shown in the media don't do it justice... Please watch the whole thing!


The quote I have had in my mind since I watched this video was:

 "Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life."

I think it's extremely important to remember what you're passionate about. Is the thing you are doing, what you should be doing? Are you stuck in a rut? Do you wake up morning after morning dreading the day you are about to have? .... If so, it is time for a change. I realize that it's difficult to make changes, and I know the change gets even harder when you have a husband/wife and kids depending on you. But you need to "stay hungry, stay foolish." Be hungry enough to want to change and be foolish enough to give it a shot. Your family will stand behind you because I promise they are more concerned with your happiness than the security your current path provides.

Bottom line: If you're not happy, make a change. You don't live forever, in fact, you will most certainly die. And we have too few days on Earth to have regrets.

"Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Humilitas...


The book of the week was Humilitas by John Dickson. This is a wonderful book. I have had a run of quite a few okay books and this one I could hardly put down. The way he writes flows so nicely and his ideas blend quite well too. I highly recommend this book to anyone.

But in the context of this blog, let's talk about how this book relates to leadership. The title Humilitas is Latin for Humility. Humility is an incredible feature, unlike a lot of other descriptors: tall, smart, brunette, etc., to be humble is not an overnight achievement nor is it something perceived in the length of a conversation. And even though it's not an easy attribute to witness it marks the pinnacle of traits which a top tier leader must possess.

But let me back track...

In this book Dickson makes a profound, yet, simple conclusion that leadership is a mix of two things: Example and Persuasion. To be an example is to lead authentically and act as you would expect your followers to act. Persuasion is communicating in a way that brings about changes. It's easy to talk at people but if you aren't persuasive, you will not be able to change their behavior or influence their ideas. Leadership is simple on paper, but challenging in practice.

So humility...

It's a hard trait to achieve. It seems that if we don't talk about our own achievements in this fast paced world that we will go unnoticed and overlooked for promotions or praise. And quite frankly, sometimes that is true. Again, it takes time for the trait of humility to even be noticed in a person. However, when someone truly possess humility, it stops becoming about the promotions and praise and starts becoming about the people that work with them. These people will always take the blunt of failure on their own shoulders and push praise to the people they 'serve.'

When someone achieves this trait they have the potential to become a powerhouse leader. This is because they are perceived to be genuine and authentic. They have the first half being a leader down: being and example. And they can easily persuade and inspire their people because the words that come from this person's mouth have always been self-less, so when the leader speaks, the followers listen because they understand, without it being explicitly said so, it's always in their best interest.

This book details accounts of the world's greatest leaders: Einstein, Aristotle, Jesus. Dickson explains the origin of today's culture of humility and leads the reader effectively to become more humble.  I'll finish with a quote from C.S. Lewis posted in this book:

"Do not imagine if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call "humble" nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in that you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all."

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Confronting Confrontation...

It's been a little while since I have discussed a leadership topic. I have been doing a lot of observing lately and it seems to me there is a misconception about confrontation within the realm of leadership. The most effective leaders are people that are not afraid to hold the people they lead accountable.

The misconception of holding people accountable or confronting an employee on something they did that did not meet your expectation is that people imagine there is going to be yelling, or aggression, or hurt feelings. That will happen every once in a while depending on the behavior you are trying to change, but it is most definitely the minority in accountability conversations. Most of the time it's just a coaching conversation, no different then the tone you would have with any other conversation. If you have the 'right' employee working for you, they want to know what your expectation is and whether they are meeting it, and if they are not meeting your expectation they will be more disappointed with your leadership if you don't communicate. The top things an employee wants from a job, even before a high pay, is being challenged and a feeling of accomplishment. If you fail to communicate expectations you fail as a leader to provide both of those things. If someone doesn't know what they did right or wrong then they will not feel accomplished, and if someone isn't told what they are doing wrong they will not be challenged to do it correctly next time. Eventually, that employee becomes disheartened and disengaged, they do not feel the need to learn new things and you become frustrated as a leader because you find the people around you are not willing to pick up anymore slack then the minimum.

Confrontation in the realm of leadership is nothing to be afraid of. In fact, you should fear the lack of confrontation because it's the only effective way to hold people accountable. If you fail to have conversations with your people, you fail your people. So next time something doesn't meet your expectations, do not be afraid to communicate that with that person. Ultimately you will both be happy you did.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pycho Cybernetics...


The book I would like to focus on this week is Pycho Cybernetics by Dr. Maxwell Maltz. It was given to me by a good friend and it started the self-help phenomenon. I will let Dr. Maltz explain his principles himself this week. It is the first of the self-help type books and is extremely intuitive. Very much a focus on self-fulfilling prophecies of a sort. People are caught up in the book The Secret nowadays, well this is The Secrets great grandfather, if books had those sorts of relationships. Some of Dr. Maltz's thoughts are a little off the wall, but it's all very interesting to me. Without further ado... Dr. Maltz





Saturday, September 10, 2011

Throwback Post... Total Money Makeover

I have been helping a lot of people answer questions about basic spending and budgeting habits lately so I thought it was time I pull this gem out of the blog archives. It's a great book I read back in 2009 and it's a very simple and conservative way to get right financially. Enjoy!

The book this week was The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. This book can help anyone who reads it. I feel like a lot of people have a immense amount of misguided pride about personal finance. People won't pick up a book like this one because they hate to think that there is anything wrong with the way they are spending their money. Well, I hate to break it to you, but if you are like 95% of Americans, you are using your money unwisely.

People don't learn about how to make the most of their personal finances in this world. And if they are one of the lucky ones that actually did get taught the basics of how to manage their money, they were most likely taught by someone who didn't have their own finances figured out.

Ramsey's book is a 7 step plan to provide "financial fitness." The basics of the 7 step program is to get rid of all your debt and live right. There is an incredibly powerful trend in this world to live beyond your means, finance your whole life, and live real close to paycheck to paycheck. It might be because someone is trying to keep up with the Jones' or because someone never told them that it was wrong, but there is a better life.

Ramsey's book has a lot of success stories of people who did the steps and turned their life around. I'm not one for sentiment, but the idea is that this program really works. The steps are: make a $1000 emergency fund, paying off ALL your debt, make your emergency fund larger (6 months of living), save towards retirement, save towards college, and finally, pay off your mortgage. Once you have that done you will be completely financially secure.

Most people can't imagine not having any debt because that is just not what they were taught. But it is possible and you will be so much better off if you get it done. The trick to getting rid of your debt- step 2- is to figure how to just get by for awhile (groceries, mortgage/rent, not a lot extra) and put all the money you have left towards your debts. Start with the credit card with the smallest balance and just keep going until every single one of your debts is gone. This includes student loans and car payments. From then on you will be paying cash for everything... your clothes, gas, and even your cars. It can be done, but it means living within your means.
Quick side note within the book - The average multi-millionaire doesn't buy a brand new car off the lot. They buy a 2 or 3 year old car that was previously used as a lease. It costs over 60% less and all the bugs have been worked out. 

Now to the millionaire part! If you are living within your means with absolutely no debt you have the opportunity to invest in your retirement. There is nothing more powerful than the power of compound interest. The Standard and Poor 500 has had an average return of 12% for the last 70 years. We aren't talking about day trading here. If you are going to be in it for the big bucks you have to look long term. Find a good mutual fund and invest every month, as if its your new car payment, and you will see huge rewards. Let me illustrate this for you... If you invest in a Roth which grows tax free at 12% interest, with $3000 a year, starting when you are 30 years old. You will have $873,000 tax-free at the age of 60 years for retirement. Not to shabby! Or another example from the book if you invested $464 into a different mutual fund (Roth caps out at normally $3000 a year) from the age 25 to 65 you would have $5,448,854.45.

This book is not about getting rich quick and it's not about being adventurous and opening up a business. Anyone, seriously, anyone can do this... You just have to throw your pride away and really do it. It will probably be painful making the transition to living within your means and people will probably tease you because you aren't spending money as frivolously as they are. But I guarantee you if you read this book and take Ramsey's words to heart, you will change your life forever. You will have a wonderful retirement, your kid's college will be paid for, and you will have money to really have fun with.

A lot of the books I have written about in this blog have not been for everyone. This one is. I know the problems that money can cause in people's lives and this book is all about casting away those problems. Read this book. There are somethings in it that are unnecessary, but the concepts in this book are simple and priceless. If you have any questions on the book don't hesitate to ask me a question. I would be more than happy to help anyone that needs it.


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Ron Paul...

I am going to talk about some politics today. It's been disturbing to me that the media completely ignores the fact the Ron Paul is not only doing well, but even alive. This guy placed second in the Iowa Straw Polls a couple weeks ago by only a couple hundred votes. But instead the media scoffs Paul and spends their time covering Perry and Bachmann. And I absolutely believe the reason Ron Paul is ignored and given no media attention is because he does not support special interests like the other candidates. Ron Paul would cut spending and stop our multiple wars and make decisions in an effort to make America a creditworthy institution again. The other guys will do what they are told to do and make a lot of other people filthy rich in the mean time. Why would the media support someone that will not be padding their pockets years into the future. I think the best person I have seen analyze this strange media coverage is Jon Stewart.
Watch this clip:


Ron Paul is a very intelligent individual, and in fact, I reviewed his book last year End the Fed and I loved it. I think America should be focused on which candidate has the best financial intelligence and can pull us out of this 5 year slump we have been in. And I do believe of all the candidates out there Ron Paul has the best education and logistical background to make the changes that need to be made.

That is all I have for this week. Regardless of which candidates you choose or which side you affiliate yourself with, make sure you get out and vote!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Letters From Leaders...


The book of the week is Letters From Leaders compiled by Henry O. Dormann. This book was loaned to me by a very intelligent friend of mine. And I will always take advice from people smarter than me. She was definitely right referring this book. It has so many great pieces of knowledge imparted by the greatest leaders alive.

The book is just what it sounds like, it's letter after letter from great leaders. It has everyone from CEOs to Presidents to Artists. The book explains who that person is even though most require no introduction and then displays their letter. I can't think of another book that is jam packed with this much wisdom. There is no fluff in these letters. They are very real, some may tug on your emotional heart-strings and other may give you the kick in the pants you may need. One thing is for sure, you will have take aways... and I would venture to guess that the take-aways I have will not be the exact same as yours. And for that reason, I suggest you read this book yourself because my little snippet here will not do the book justice to your personal needs.

That being said, I will go ahead and throw out some of the words that hit me pretty hard:

"When things go well, always give credit to others." -George H. W. Bush

"You can't learn anything if you are talking." -John Teets

"The ability to communicate is critical- clearly, frankly, and often." - James D. Robinson III

"Happiness is more important to success than success is to happiness." - Cathie Black

"Always look for opportunities that will give you a chance to learn." - John F. Welch Jr.

"Never do just what the boss asks; always do more." - John F. Welch Jr.

"Be the kind of person who adds air and life to a room when they enter-- not the kind who removes these things." - James S. Turley

"Try and wake up every morning happy." - Sanford I. Weill

"Try to craft a career or a life path that is meaningful, and then the energy will flow naturally." - David Rockefeller Jr.

There were a lot of similarities in the advice the letters from these men and women. Two of them were to keep on learning and to never give up. Super simple ideas.

Go buy this book... It's a great one. If anyone has any questions don't hesitate to ask!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Soapbox Economy

It's time for me to get up on my soapbox again. This time about the US economy. The problem we are experiencing is an issue with our culture. We have a debt driven society. It's crazy, starting at the very top, we spend more than we earn and acquire debt while only paying our minimum payments. Just typing that sentence made me upset. And the fix to our societal problems is incredibly fundamental, but we have politicians wading through the problem and there is no way they can get any benefits for their special interests if they take simple problems and give them simple answers... instead, they take a simple problem, i.e. spending less than we earn, and make committees that make laws, and those committees have committees that oversee them, and then those committees have joint committees, and representatives, and branches, and by the time the solution gets an answer, it's a 500 page bill.

So here is what the problem looks like:

http://www.usdebtclock.org/#

This is an extremely interesting website... make sure you click the link.

Found this quote the other day... it makes it easier to talk about all this debt stuff.

‎"If the US Government were a family, they would be making $58,000 a year, they spend $75,000 a year, and are $327,000 in credit card debt. They are currently proposing BIG spending cuts to reduce their spending to $72,000 a year. These are the actual proportions of the federal budget & debt, reduced to a level that we can understand." - Dave Ramsey

How to solve our problem... Make our spending less than $58,000. It needs to be done regardless of what  we cut, it needs to be done. Take our men out of the middle east, cut back medicare funding, cut back social security, cut back unemployment benefits, and lastly, restructure taxation and make everyone pay more... not the rich, not the poor- everyone! Saying these things does not make me a popular person, but it's real. Having all these luxuries is what is causing our 'credit card debt' to increase at astronomical rates while we sit back and spend money on 'eating out' and 'new toys.' (eating out and new toys is an analogy to making everyone happy). We cannot make everyone happy if we intend to stay a country for much longer. When you as a consumer default on your debt purchases you will have your toys taken away by Visa, Mastercard or the Bank- repossessed. When we, as a country, default on our debt purchases, China will take our country.

We will lose it.

So after we get our spending to be less than our revenue we need to take a snowball approach to our debt and get it down to zero. Then we will have to live within our means as a country... we cannot have everything without having the money to pay for it. We do not have a magic money machine that prints without consequence. We do print, we print a lot. But there are huge consequences.

So... I am stepping off the soapbox now. Spend less than we make, this is the solution. Not complicated. People of this country need to then follow suit and spend less than they make. And then those people need to teach their children these very simple practices while also still applying them to their lives.

That's all I have tonight... Enjoy your week!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Millionaire Mind...


The book of the week was The Millionaire Mind by Thomas J. Stanley. It is truly a terrific book, giving a real world look into the lifestyles of the average millionaire. It is extremely detailed, diving into everything from living conditions to spouse attributes. However, I am going to talk about a unifying theme in the book that separates real millionaires from the people that act in ways we expect millionaires to act. So let me back up... In my post over The Millionaire Nextdoor also by Stanley, I explained who the average millionaire really is:

Some Shocking Statistics about these Millionaires:


-The average taxable income for them is $131,000
-They live on less than 7 percent of their wealth
-Many of their occupations could be classified as dull-normal such as: welding contractor, auctioneer, mobile-home owner, paving contractor, coin and stamp dealer
-They invest on average nearly 20% of their household income
-Most of them are homeowners (97 percent) and their average home value is $320,000
-80% of millionaires today are first generation millionaires


That last statistic was shocking to me. There is a huge misconception in society about the wealthy. The media portrays the wealthy as a legacy of the rich, one generation just passes it on to the next and the idea of getting there is represented as just a pipe-dream. The fact that 80% of the millionaires surveyed were first generation millionaires should really open someone's eyes to the possibility of being a millionaire an accessible dream. The other thing the media skews about the wealthy is the living habits. They show millionaires spending money like it's going out of style. They have great big mansions, fancy cars, and more toys than any adult really needs. Real millionaires don't spend like this. The media loves to cover the abnormal... that is why they cover crime, lottery winners, celebrities and so on and so forth. This book does a great job of laying out what a T.V. show about the average millionaire would look like. Just think of it... a man with a slightly above average career, diligently focuses on his finance and investing habits, living below his means, and double checking his budgets before he spends even a $500 on a new television. Not the most interesting T.V. show, however, that is what that average millionaire does.


No matter how much money you make there is one golden rule to accumulating wealth... ready for it?... Live below you means! If you have $5000 coming in each month after taxes then do your best to live on $4000 and then invest the rest. This is the only sure fire "get rich quick scheme"... and it really works. Throughout this blog I give tips on what may make a good investment and why, but you will surely fail investing and accumulating wealth if you do not have the first step completed... live below you means. The average millionaire spends over twice as much time budgeting and analyzing their own spending habits than the average non-millionaire. So focus on not only what money is coming in, but also pay just as close attention, if not more, on the money going out.


Being frugal pays big... A lot of these millionaires are just your average blue-collar entrepreneurial Americans and the way they made it to financial freedom is through frugality. They spend much less on their cars than non-millionaires... in fact the average millionaire buys 3 year old cars. At that point they have a lot of the first 30k miles bugs worked out and they still ride like a new car, but at 75% off the original price. There is no reason to finance out your life... Getting over your head in debt just amounts to unneeded stress and a bunch of "in-the-moment" toys. You can only keep up with the Jones' so long before you realize you are 50 years old with no retirement and just lots of cars, toys, and a big house with no equity. I don't mean to be too brash, but I want everyone to understand the importance of living below/within your means. The alternative is living well off with equity in several properties, a couple reliable cars, travel the world retire early, have the ability to teach financial discipline to your children and live without a lot of unneeded stress!


Now I want to add to these ideas. In The Millionaire Mind I learned the difference between being Income Statement focused and Balance Sheet focused. Both are elements of an individual's financial statement, but when it comes to the average millionaire, one of them is much more important than the other. People that act like they are rich are many times Income Statement focused. They make good money and they spend it because the Income Statement says they have it coming in. They buy elaborate everything and oddly live paycheck to paycheck. However, a Balance Sheet focused individual is focused on the bottom line. After you subtract your liabilities from your assets, what is left? They are focused on this number and are focused on increasing it. Each month, the Balance Sheet focused individual is making this number higher and higher and eventually becomes a millionaire. No quick get-rich fix here. It takes time and it takes will-power. You don't go out and buy a jet-ski every time you get a paycheck. You want a jet-ski? Go home and crunch some numbers... map out the game plan to get that jet-ski and adjust your individual budgets to make it happen. Is the idea of giving up X, Y, or Z worth a jet-ski? If not, you don't buy it!

People are dumb with money. Well, I should say Average People are dumb with money. If you are brave enough to be reading this blog, you are clearly not average. The next non-average thing you need to do is follow my advice. Be Balance Sheet focused, not Income Statement. Who cares if you make $200,000 a year if you flush it down the toilet each month. Be smart and save money.

It was a excellent book with lots and lots of insightful information. If you are more curious about the average millionaire's lifestyle, pick up this book. If you have any questions don't hesitate to ask!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Check Number 69 Off the List!

I got another things done off the list this weekend. I took a photography class all day today at the Chicago Photography Center. I learned a ton! I am really excited to go out and shoot some good looking pictures. We went over ISO, aperture, shutter speed, learned about motion, framing, panning, and a number of other things. The class is actually 3 weeks worth of information at a fast pace.

We all took a long lunch and shot pictures while we were out. I ended up with a cool picture of St. Alphonsus Catholic Church. I made three small adjustments in the developing process on Adobe Lightroom 3 readjusting the white balance, increasing fill lights and blacks. It gave it a very crisp and colorful finish without using saturation. I don't like saturating a picture. It is often used too much and destroys the image... makes for all color and no form. (But that's just my personal feeling and the picture I took could look terrible to everyone but me.)

I am thrilled with my decision to take this class. It was a really good deal through www.GiltCity.com . I have already started planning the next thing I intend to check off my list: Take my whole family on vacation.

I'll leave you with my picture... I was going to scan it in but forgot and framed it as soon as I got home.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Let's Talk About Recessions!

This week I want to talk about recessions. I have been increasingly curious about previous recessions since it seems the one we are in will not let up. So I did a little research and the top 3 recessions I deem rememberable aside from the one we are currently in are the following:

1. Tulip Mania!

This is a Dutch Recession that happened in the 1630s. People were going nuts about tulips and the price skyrocketed and then all the sudden dropped off. The thing that hurt the most is the bubble got so big that people were selling all their belongings and even houses to purchase tulip bulbs. Some bulbs being purchased were still in the ground. And even further, toward the end of 1636, a lot of bulbs were being traded without the actual physical bulbs present- basically trading debt. And in about February of 1637, the market crashed and contract prices plummeted causing everyone heavily invested in the bulbs to go broke, the people that sold their house to be homeless, and the Dutch economy suffered for sometime afterward.

2. Post WW1

In 1920 and 1921 we had a deflationary recession... deflation is bad because when people expect prices of items to decrease, they stop spending and when people stop spending, businesses collapse and when businesses collapse so does the economy. Along with the decrease in prices of goods, the pay for workers decline as well. Not a good deal. The deflation experienced during this particular recession was about 18%. That's a lot. And the Recession lasted about 18 months, and even though that's not terrible in terms of time of recession the effects of the 18% deflation in such a small amount of time had catastrophic effects. One theory on the cause of this recession, in addition to the changing of monetary policy around 1919 was all the soldiers coming back rapidly filling up the civilian workforce. (One might wonder if the administration is worried that a complete recall from the Middle East could cause further economic turmoil in today's wartime. With a 'real unemployment rate of close to 11%, I can't imagine what we would look like if we flood an already tumultuous civilian workforce.-- but I'm not economist.)

3. The Great Depression  

This one is worldwide and most people are educated on the basics. The timing was varied depending on what country you lived in, but it was generally around 1929-1930. It lasted all the way to the late 1930s and in some countries the early 1940s. It was one of the saddest times for world humanity. It started in the US and really went international on October 29th, 1929 aka Black Tuesday. Unemployment in the US reached 25% and nearly all prices dropped off including crops which fell off 60%. The exact cause of The Great Depression is many, but ultimately it comes down to the fact that we mismanaged avoiding a recession. The reason we set interest rates and toy around with monetary policy is to cause inflation. We don't want to cause too much inflation but we also don't want to have negative inflation aka deflation because of reasons described earlier. But the problem is that the machine is too complex to completely control and when they realize there is a problem, it's too late. Then soon after we recovered from the Depression the US was introduced to WW2. Definitely a rocky time in US history.

SO... We have had other recessions and depressions. We had the Internet Bubble not too long ago, but there is no getting around the fact that the current economic situation is not ideal. I have so many friends that have the hardest time finding a job and I want so much better for every one. But ultimately, if we can learn anything from history... especially The Great Depression... it's that we will correct and life will go on.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Super Freakonomics...


The book of the week was Super Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. Great book, however, there is surprisingly a lot of sex talk and descriptive words (They dove into the world of prostitution and it goes with the territory.) But point being, if you don't have a tolerance for somewhat uncomfortable language being used in books this isn't for you.

The book is really great though. Levitt and Dubner are very bright men and the information they can bring to light about somewhat controversial issues is really really interesting. Their goal is not to sway the reader one way or the other on any given issue, but to show the reader what research suggests about the issue and get people to start talking.

The book is a perfect cross between basic psychology and microeconomics. I honestly wish this or the first book they wrote, Freakonomics, was required reading for college... I probably would have learned way more.

The book is filled with very detailed information in every chapter, so I cannot give you a whole lot to go from today. But I can tell you about some of the things covered and you can decide whether it is enticing enough for you to go out and pick up the book for yourself!

-Why you want your ER doctor to be a nurse
-What accounts for the male-female wage gap
-Why 38 people watched Kitty Genovese get murdered
-What's up with car seat safety
-What climate models miss
-How to fix global warming and stop hurricanes (My personal favorite)

These and many other issues are tackled. And the knowledge will have you talking, I promise. It's overwhelming what the research shows in some of these areas.

I do recommend this book, again, while making sure you know that you most likely will be offended if you are offended easily. If you have any questions don't hesitate to ask!