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Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Strangest Secret

An excerpt from
The Strangest Secret
by Earl Nightingale 

George Bernard Shaw said, "People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can't find them, make them."

Well, it's pretty apparent, isn't it? And every person who discovered this believed (for a while) that he was the first one to work it out. We become what we think about.

Now, it stands to reason that a person who is thinking about a concrete and worthwhile goal is going to reach it, because that's what he's thinking about. And we become what we think about.

Conversely, the person who has no goal, who doesn't know where he's going, and whose thoughts must therefore be thoughts of confusion, anxiety, fear and worry—his life becomes one of frustration, fear, anxiety and worry. And if he thinks about nothing...he becomes nothing.

How does it work? Why do we become what we think about? Well, I'll tell you how it works, as far as we know. To do this, I want to tell you about a situation that parallels the human mind.

Suppose a farmer has some land, and it's good, fertile land. The land gives the farmer a choice; he may plant in that land whatever he chooses. The land doesn't care. It's up to the farmer to make a decision.

We're comparing the human mind with the land because the mind, like the land, doesn't care what you plant in it. It will return what you plant, but it doesn't care what you plant.

Now, let's say that the farmer has two seeds in his hand—one is a seed of corn, the other is nightshade, a deadly poison. He digs two little holes in the earth and he plants both seeds—one corn, the other nightshade. He covers up the holes, waters and takes care of the land...and what will happen? Invariably, the land will return what was planted. As it's written in the Bible,

"As ye sow, so shall ye reap."

Remember, the land doesn't care. It will return poison in just as wonderful abundance as it will corn. So up come the plants—one corn, one poison. The human mind is far more fertile, far more incredible and mysterious than the land, but it works the same way. It doesn't care what we plant...success...or failure. A concrete, worthwhile goal...or confusion, misunderstanding, fear, anxiety, and so on. But what we plant it must return to us.

You see, the human mind is the last great, unexplored continent on earth. It contains riches beyond our wildest dreams. It will return anything we want to plant. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

What did you accomplish in 2011?

An excerpt from
The Butterfly Effect
by Andy Andrews 

There are generations yet unborn whose very lives will be shifted and shaped by the moves you make and the actions you take today. And tomorrow. And the next day. And the next.

Every single thing you do matters.

You have been created as one of a kind.

On the planet Earth, there has never been one like you ...and there will never be again.

Your spirit, your thoughts and feelings, your ability to reason and act all exist in no one else.

The rarities that make you special are no mere accident or quirk of fate.

You have been created in order that you might make a difference. You have within you the power to change the world.

Know that your actions cannot be hoarded, saved for later, or used selectively.

By your hand, millions—billions—of lives will be altered, caught up in a chain of events begun by you this day.

The very beating of your heart has meaning and purpose.

Your actions have value far greater than silver or gold.

Your life...
And what you do with it today ...matters forever.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Seven Choices for Success and Significance

An excerpt from
Seven Choices for Success and Significance
by Dr. Nido R. Qubein
What is success? Only you can define it in your own life. In my own life, I have attempted to define both Success and Significance.

To me, Success is secular. Significance is spiritual.

It doesn't matter how you define your own spirituality. Spiritual matters are always finer, deeper, and longer lasting than secular matters.

Success focuses on three Fs:


Success is focused on tasks, even goals.

Significance also focuses on three Fs:


But, significance focuses on purpose. Why am I here? What do I do with the talents, experiences and skills that I have? How can I make the world a better place? How do I plant seeds of greatness in the lives of those around me? How do I make an impact in the circles of influence where I find or place myself?

To choose success and significance, you must be a strategic thinker who:

• Has a clear vision of what you want to accomplish
• Develops a solid strategy that answers three questions:
- Who or what are we today?
- Who do we want to become?
- How do we get there?
• Employs practical systems to achieve your goals
• Commits to consistent execution because in consistency, success

When implementing your strategic plan for success, it really comes down to three "Ds":

Decide what you want most to achieve
Determine the first step to getting what you want
Do the first thing that will start you moving toward your goal.

Using these seven keys, you can choose success and significance. But keep this in mind: success is not a matter of luck, not an accident of birth, not a reward for virtue. The most successful people I know are the ones who have something to do, somewhere to be and someone to love.

No one is responsible for your success or your joy. You must search for it and be in a continual state of earning it.

To merely succeed is not an end in itself. You must use your success to impact other impact the Live Life from the Inside Out.

It all starts with the choices you make - they determine the person you will become.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

An excerpt from
Heart of a Teacher
by Paula Fox 

He was in the first third grade class I taught at Saint Mary's School in Morris, Minnesota. All 34 of my students were dear to me, but Mark Eklund was one in a million. Very neat in appearance, he had that happy-to-be-alive attitude that made even his occasional mischievousness delightful.

Mark talked incessantly. I had to remind him again and again that talking without permission was not acceptable. What impressed me so much, though, was his sincere response every time I had to correct him for misbehaving. "Thank you for correcting me, Sister!" I didn't know what to make of it at first, but before long I became accustomed to hearing it many times a day.

One morning my patience was growing thin when Mark talked once too often, and then I made a novice teacher's mistake. I looked at Mark and said, "If you say one more word, I am going to tape your mouth shut!" It wasn't ten seconds later when Chuck blurted out, "Mark is talking again." I hadn't asked any of the students to help me watch Mark, but since I had stated the punishment in front of the class, I had to act on it. I remember the scene as if it had occurred this morning. I walked to my desk, very deliberately opened my drawer and took out a roll of masking tape. Without saying a word, I proceeded to Mark's desk, tore off two pieces of tape and made a big X with them over his mouth. I then returned to the front of the room. As I glanced at Mark to see how he was doing, he winked at me. That did it! I started laughing. The class cheered as I walked back to Mark's desk, removed the tape, and shrugged my shoulders. His first words were, "Thank you for correcting me, Sister."

At the end of the year, I was asked to teach junior-high math. The years flew by, and before I knew it, Mark was in my classroom again. He was more handsome than ever and just as polite. Since he had to listen carefully to my instruction in the "new math," he did not talk as much in ninth grade as he had in third. One Friday, things just didn't feel right. We had worked hard on a new concept all week, and I sensed that the students were frowning, frustrated with themselves and edgy with one another. I had to stop this crankiness before it got out of hand. So I asked them to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name. Then I told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down. It took the remainder of the class period to finish the assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed me the papers. Charlie smiled. Mark said, "Thank you for teaching me, Sister. Have a good weekend." That Saturday, I wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and I listed what everyone else had said about that individual.

On Monday, I gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling. "Really?" I heard whispered. "I never knew that meant anything to anyone!" "I didn't know others liked me so much." No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. I never knew if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn't matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and one another again.

That group of students moved on. Several years later, after I returned from vacation, my parents met me at the airport. As we were driving home, Mother asked me the usual questions about the trip, the weather, my experiences in general. There was a lull in the conversation. Mother gave Dad a sideways glance and simply said, "Dad?" My father cleared his throat as he usually did before saying something important.

"The Eklunds called last night," he began. "Really?" I said. "I haven't heard from them in years. I wonder how Mark is." Dad responded quietly. "Mark was killed in Vietnam," he said. "The funeral is tomorrow, and his parents would like it if you could attend." To this day I can still point to the exact spot on I-494 where Dad told me about Mark.

I had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. Mark looked so handsome, so mature. All I could think at that moment was, "Mark, I would give all the masking tape in the world if only you would talk to me." The church was packed with Mark's friends. Chuck's sister sang "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." Why did it have to rain on the day of the funeral? It was difficult enough at the graveside. The pastor said the usual prayers, and the bugler played taps. One by one those who loved Mark took a last walk by the coffin and sprinkled it with holy water. I was the last one to bless the coffin. As I stood there, one of the soldiers who acted as pallbearer came up to me. "Were you Mark's math teacher?" he asked. I nodded as I continued to stare at the coffin. "Mark talked about you a lot," he said.

After the funeral, most of Mark's former classmates headed to Chuck's farmhouse for lunch. Mark's mother and father were there, obviously waiting for me. "We want to show you something," his father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket. "They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it." Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times. I knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which I had listed all the good things each of Mark's classmates had said about him. "Thank you so much for doing that," Mark's mother said. "As you can see, Mark treasured it." Mark's classmates started to gather around us. Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, "I still have my list. I keep it in the top drawer of my desk at home." Chuck's wife said, "Chuck asked me to put his in our wedding album." "I have mine too," Marilyn said. "It's in my diary." Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. "I carry this with me at all times," Vicki said without batting an eyelash. "I think we all saved our lists." That's when I finally sat down and cried. I cried for Mark and for all his friends who would never see him again.

The density of people in society is so thick that we forget that life will end one day. And we don't know when that one day will be. So please, tell the people you love and care for that they are special and important. Tell them, before it is too late.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Best Way Out is Always Through

An excerpt from
The Best Way Out is Always Through
by BJ Gallagher 

Mary Kay Ash banged her head on the corporate glass ceiling one too many times. Working for several direct sales companies from the 1930's until the early 1960's, she achieved considerable success. She climbed the corporate ladder to become the sole woman on the board of directors of the World Gift Company — quite an accomplishment for a woman in the 1950's.

But life wasn't rosy at the top. Even though Mary Kay had the title and the track record, she was not taken seriously by her male peers. In board meetings, her opinions and suggestions were ignored, dismissed, or even ridiculed. Male board members minced no words in their judgment - pronouncing her guilty of "thinking like a woman."

Since the sales force was almost entirely female, Mary Kay thought that thinking like a woman was an asset. But her fellow board members disagreed. Finally, in frustration, she retired in 1963, intending to write a book to assist women in the male-dominated business.

Sitting at her kitchen table, she made two lists: one list was all the good things she had seen in the companies where she'd worked, and the other list was all the things she thought could be improved. As she re-read her lists, she realized that what she had in front of her was a marketing plan for her ideal company. In just four weeks, her "book" had become a business plan, and her retirement was over.

Both her accountant and her attorney did their best to discourage her, warning that she would be throwing her money away on this venture. But Mary Kay had heard enough male nay-saying in her corporate years — she ignored her advisors.

Her husband, unlike her accountant and attorney, was very supportive. With his help, Mary Kay developed cosmetic products, designed packaging, wrote promotional materials and recruited and trained her female sales force.

Then the unthinkable happened; her husband of twenty-one years died of a heart attack. Another woman might have dropped her plans, or at least delayed them, but Mary Kay was a strong Texas woman. She stayed on track with the help of her twenty-year-old son, Richard Rogers, and rolled out her new business in September of 1963.

Beginning with a storefront in Dallas and an investment of $5,000, Mary Kay Cosmetics earned close to $200,000 in its first year — quadrupling that amount in its second year. When Mary Kay took her company public in 1968, sales had climbed to more than $10 million.

Mary Kay's unusual corporate motto, "God first, family second, career third," was unconventional, to say the least. But she understood the need for women to have balance in their lives, and she was committed to providing unlimited opportunity for women's financial AND personal success.

Mary Kay authored three books, all of which became best-sellers. Her business model is taught at the Harvard Business School. She received many honors, including the Horatio Alger Award. Fortune magazine has named Mary Kay Cosmetics as one of the Ten Best Companies for Women, as well as one of The 100 Best Companies to Work for in America.

At the time of her death in 2001, Mary Kay Cosmetics had 800,000 independent beauty consultants in 37 countries, with total annual sales of over two billion dollars. Never underestimate the power of a woman with a mission!

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Power of Kindness

An excerpt from
The Power of Kindness
by Mac Anderson 

One day, a poor boy who was selling goods from door-to-door to pay his way through school, found he had only one thin dime left, and he was hungry. He decided he would ask for a meal at the next house. However, he lost his nerve when a lovely young woman opened the door.

Instead of a meal, he asked for a drink of water. She thought he looked hungry and so she brought him a large glass of milk. He drank it slowly, and then asked, "How much do I owe you?"

"You don't owe me anything," she replied. "Mother has taught us never to accept pay for a kindness." He said, "Then I thank you from my heart." As Howard Kelly left that house, he not only felt stronger physically, but his faith in God and man was strengthened also. He had been ready to give up and quit.

Years later, that young woman became critically ill. The local doctors were baffled. They finally sent her to the big city, where they called in specialists to study her rare disease.

Dr. Howard Kelly was called in for the consultation. When he heard the name of the town she came from, he went down the hall of the hospital to her room. Dressed in his doctor's gown, he went in to see her. He recognized her at once. He went back to the consultation room determined to do his best to save her life. From that day, he gave special attention to the case.

After a long struggle, the battle was won. Dr. Kelly requested from the business office to pass the final billing to him for approval. He looked at it, then wrote something on the edge, and the bill was sent to her room. She feared to open it, for she was sure it would take the rest of her life to pay for it all. Finally, she looked, and something caught her attention on the side of the bill. She read these words:

"Paid in full with one glass of milk..."


Dr. Howard Kelly

(Dr. Howard Kelly was a distinguished physician who, in 1895, founded the Johns Hopkins Division of Gynecologic Oncology at Johns Hopkins University. According to Dr. Kelly's biographer, Audrey Davis, the doctor was on a walking trip through Northern Pennsylvania one spring day when he stopped by a farm house for a drink of water.)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Attitude is Everything

An excerpt from
by Vicki Hitzges 

I used to worry. A lot. The more I fretted, the more proficient I became at it. Anxiety begets anxiety. I even worried that I worried too much! Ulcers might develop. My health could fail. My finances could be depleted to pay the hospital bills.

A comedian once said, "I tried to drown my worries with gin, but my worries are equipped with flotation devices." While not a drinker, I certainly could identify! My worries could swim, jump and pole vault!

To get some perspective, I visited a well known, Dallas businessman, Fred Smith. Fred mentored such luminaries as motivational whiz Zig Ziglar, business guru Ken Blanchard and leadership expert John Maxwell. Fred listened as I poured out my concerns and then said, "Vicki, you need to learn to wait to worry."

As the words sank in, I asked Fred if he ever spent time fretting. (I was quite certain he wouldn't admit it if he did. He was pretty full of testosterone—even at age 90.) To my surprise, he confessed that in years gone by he had been a top-notch worrier!

"I decided that I would wait to worry!" he explained. "I decided that I'd wait until I actually had a reason to worry—something that was happening, not just something that might happen—before I worried."

"When I'm tempted to get alarmed," he confided, "I tell myself, 'Fred, you've got to wait to worry! Until you know differently, don't worry.' And I don't. Waiting to worry helps me develop the habit of not worrying and that helps me not be tempted to worry."

Fred possessed a quick mind and a gift for gab. As such, he became a captivating public speaker. "I frequently ask audiences what they were worried about this time last year. I get a lot of laughs," he said, "because most people can't remember. Then I ask if they have a current worry—you see nods from everybody. Then I remind them that the average worrier is 92% inefficient—only 8% of what we worry about ever comes true."

Charles Spurgeon said it best. "Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, but only empties today of its strength."

Finding Joy

An excerpt from
Finding Joy
by Vicki Hitzges 

Life can be complicated, but simple. Of course, we try our best to make it complicated, but if we look closely, it's really very simple. And that's what this little book is all about...Simple Secrets to a Happy Life!

My goal is to have you sit down in a quiet place, and to slowly soak up every simple page. Don't hurry, just take a deep breath, read each thought, and reflect on how it might apply to your life. Think about what is...and what could be, if your mind and heart is open to change.

Well, I don't know about you, but my world is far from perfect. I have doubts, fears and disappointments in my life, and I need doses of inspiration to bring me back to where I should re-direct me to what's really important in life.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The story behind Leading with Passion

An excerpt from
Leading with Passion
by John J. Murphy  

Light a match in a dark room and watch as the light instantly overcomes the darkness. Observe the power and grace of that single, solitary flame dancing with life. Now light several candles or kindle a fire and experience the added warmth and comfort extending from that first, vulnerable flame through others. This is the heart and soul of leadership - the essence of inspiring others. It is about courageously casting off fear, doubt and limiting beliefs and giving people a sense of hope, optimism and accomplishment. It is about bringing light into a world of uncertainty and inspiring others to do the same. This is what we call passion, the fire within.

Passion is a heartfelt energy that flows through us, not from us. It fills our hearts when we allow it to and it inspires others when we share it. It is like sunlight flowing through a doorway that we have just opened. It was always there. It just needed to be accepted and embraced. Under the right conditions, this "flow" appears effortless, easy and graceful. It is doing what it is meant to do. It is reminding us that we are meant to be purposeful. We are meant to be positive. We are meant to be passionate. We feel this when we listen to and accept our calling in life. We feel it as inspiration when we open the door of resistance and let it in.

Inspiration springs forth when we allow ourselves to be "in-spirit," aligned with our true essence. Stop and think about it: When you feel truly passionate and inspired about someone or something, what frame of mind are you in? What are you willing to do? What kind of effort are you willing to put forth? How fearful are you? Chances are, you feel motivated to do whatever it takes, without fear or doubt, to turn your vision into reality. You grow in confidence. You believe you can do it. You are committed from the heart and soul.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Our Words Create Our Worlds

An excerpt from
An Enemy called Average
by John Mason

What we say is important. Our vocabulary should be filled with words of hope and dreams. Be known as someone who speaks positively.

Recently I saw a sign under a mounted large mouth bass. It read, "If I had kept my mouth shut I wouldn't be here." How true! Don't jump into trouble mouth first.

Let me pose this question for you: Starting today what would happen if you changed what you said about your biggest problem, your biggest opportunity?

I don't know if you've had this conversation or not, but last month I turned to my wife, Linda, while we were sitting together in our family room and said, "Just so you know, I never want to live in a vegetative state dependent on some machine. If that ever happens, just pull the plug."

She immediately got up, walked over and unplugged the TV.

"Our words create our worlds," says Dean Sikes. Your words have the power to start fires or quench passion.

Don't be like the man who joined a monastery in which the monks were allowed to speak only two words every seven years. After the first seven years had passed, the new initiate met with the abbot, who asked him, "Well, what are your two words?"

"Food's bad," replied the man, who then went back to his silence.

Seven years later the clergyman asked, "What are your two words now?"

"Bed's hard," the man responded.

Seven years later - twenty-one years after his initial entry into the monastery - the man met with the abbot for the third and final time. "And what are your two words this time?" the abbot asked.

"I quit."

"Well, I'm not surprised," the cleric answered disgustedly. "All you've done since you got here is complain!"

Don't be like that man; don't be known as a person whose only words are negative. If you're a member of the "negative grapevine," resign.

Contrary to what you may have heard, talk is not cheap. Talk is powerful!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

First Thing Every Morning

An excerpt from
First Thing Every Morning
by Lewis Timberlake What do you do when your whole world crumbles? I grew up in Texas and married Georgia Ann, the most beautiful girl in my hometown. I enjoyed a successful career in the life insurance business - even became president of the company. I was president of civic organizations and involved in running campaigns for governors. I'd won awards and honors and life was good. My first two children were simply amazing, and my third child, Craig, offered the same promise.

But at age 10, the doctors said he would be blind in two weeks' time. How could that be? Craig had never been sick - never even had a headache.

We discovered there is a gene that can "go bad." It causes Wolfram Syndrome. There is no cure. When it goes bad, bad things happen. First his optic nerve began to die, and I watched my 10-year-old son go blind a little each day. God blessed me with an amazing wife, three phenomenal children and a successful career. But when Craig went blind, my world crumbled. How do you get through that? What do you do?

I cried out in desperation and despair. There was no help available; nobody in high places could sort things out. Then radio broadcaster Paul Harvey told me, "In times like these, it's good to remember that there have always been 'times like these.' You can get through this better and stronger, and more able to live life victoriously - if you will do some things that help you get through each day."

I realized you must find a way to begin each day in a way that prepares you to say, "Whatever takes place, I shall win."

That's when I realized I needed to start every day, even challenging and difficult days, with a positive focus. I needed to do the things unsuccessful people don't do. I actually learned, "How you begin the day controls how you go through the day."

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Walk The Talk

An excerpt from
Walk the Talk
by Eric Harvey and Steve Ventura 
QUESTION: What does "courage" have to do with being a person of good character...with someone who stays true to their principles and their values?


You see, being values-driven means two things:

Doing what's right - following our conscience; refusing to compromise our principles, despite pressures and temptations to the contrary, and

Taking a stand against what's wrong - speaking out, whenever we see others do things that are incorrect or inappropriate.

Unquestionably, both of those require guts and fortitude...they require courage.

Courage is...

Following your conscience instead of "following the crowd".
Refusing to take part in hurtful or disrespectful behaviors.
Sacrificing personal gain for the benefit of others.
Speaking your mind even though others don't agree.
Taking complete responsibility for your actions...and your mistakes.
Following the rules - and insisting that others do the same.
Challenging the status quo in search of better ways.
Doing what you know is right - regardless of the risks and potential consequences.

I'd like to share the "Cadet Prayer" that is repeated during chapel services at the U.S. Military Academy:

"Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong, and never to be content with a half truth when the whole truth can be won. Endow us with the courage that is born of loyalty to all that is noble and worthy, that scorns to compromise with vice and injustice and knows no fear when truth and right are in jeopardy."

That is truly the essence of courage.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Change is Good...You Go First

As a leader, deciding to make changes is the easy part. Getting your people on board is much more difficult. Why is that? Quite simply, change is an emotional process. We are all creatures of habit who usually resist it, and welcome routine. Uncharted waters are scary!

In the long run, however, sameness is the fast track to mediocrity. And, mediocre companies won't survive. 

Tuli Kupferberg said it best..."When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge." And, that is your convince your team that the new world you are trying to create is better than the one you're in. Is it easy? Of course not. It takes planning, commitment, patience and courage.

The truth, of course, is that change can be a wonderful gift. In fact, it is the key that unlocks the doors to growth and excitement in any organization. And, most importantly, without it...your competition will pass you by. A big part of success, as a leader, will be your ability to inspire your team to get out of their comfort zones; to assure them that even though they are on a new path, it's the right path, for the right reasons.

An excerpt from
Change is Good...You Go First
by Mac Anderson and Tom Feltenstein
Something magical happens when we accept personal responsibility for our behavior and our results. But, it's not easy, because it's human nature to "pass the buck". I (Mac) know there have been times in my life when my business was struggling where I found myself blaming others, blaming the economy, blaming this, blaming that! But as I've gotten older (and a little wiser) when things go wrong in my business, or my life, I can always find the the mirror. In every instance, it always comes back to choices I've made in my life that put me exactly where I am today. I have to say, that this one "tweak" in my attitude may sound like a little thing, but it has made a big difference in my life.

What does all this have to do with change? Plenty! As a manager, one of the most important things you can do in times of change is to get your people to understand how taking personal responsibility and recognizing problems as opportunities, will not only help the company, but will help them as individuals. In other words, sell the idea of...what's in it for them?

Authors B.J. Gallagher and Steve Ventura wrote a great little book about achieving success through personal accountability titled: Who Are "They" Anyway? I like their list showing how each individual in the company can benefit by adopting a "personal accountability attitude."

• You have more control over your destiny
• You become an active contributor rather than a passive observer
• Others look to you for leadership
• You gain the reputation as a problem solver
• You enhance your career opportunities
• You enjoy the satisfaction that comes from getting things done...the power of positive doing
• You experience less anger, frustration and helplessness - all leading to better physical health
• You realize a positive spillover effect into your personal life at home

According to Gallagher and Ventura, the most important words of personal responsibility are as follows:
The 10 most important words:
I won't wait for others to take the first step.
The 9 most important words:
If it is to be, it's up to me.
The 8 most important words
If not me, who? If not now, when?
The 7 most important words:
Let me take a shot at it.
The 6 most important words:
I will not pass the buck.
The 5 most important words:
You can count on me.
The 4 most important words:
It IS my job!
The 3 most important words:
Just do it!
The 2 most important words:
I will.
The most important word:

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

How do credit cards compare to bank debit cards?

Half of all US consumers surveyed recently by TransUnion said they use their bank's debit card to pay for most of their purchases, but debit card fraud is increasing. Many of these same consumers reported that they fear becoming a victim of identity theft or fraud.  How easy is it for someone to get your debit card information and help themselves to cash?

In case of loss or fraud

With both credit cards and ATM or debit cards, the key to quick recovery and low liability is how quickly you report the loss. If you report a credit card loss before the cards are used, under the Fair Credit Billing Act you aren't responsible for any unauthorized charges. If you report an ATM or debit card missing before it's used without permission, the Electronic Funds Transfer Act provides that the card issuer cannot hold you responsible for any unauthorized transfers. But the cards differ here: if you don't report the loss of an ATM or debit card within two business days after you discover the loss, you could lose up to $500 because of an unauthorized transfer. You also risk unlimited loss if you fail to report an unauthorized transfer within 60 days after your bank statement containing unauthorized use is mailed to you.

Cash vs. debit cards

Making purchases with cash, like debit cards, won't lead to finance charges. But cash can be lost or stolen and can never be recovered. A lost or stolen card, on the other hand, can immediately be reported to limit possible liability.

Debit card vs. ATM-only card

Most banks will issue you an old-fashioned ATM-only card, that allows you to withdraw cash from an ATM but unlike debit cards, don't operate on credit card networks. If lost or stolen, an ATM-only card is useless to a thief who doesn't also have your PIN code.

All payment methods have benefits and drawbacks. But from a fraud standpoint, the amount of liability for fraud losses may be lower with credit cards. To avoid piling up debt if you’re going to use it for daily purchases, apply for a new, low limit card and pay off what you’ve charged every month.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

My first life lesson on systems

I was 25 years of age and thinking of settling down, getting married and raise a family.  Life had been good to me and just thought it was time.  No more games just enjoy life that’s ahead of me.
I met this girl 3 years my junior, not the usual girl would date but thought it was time for a change and wanted to make my family proud and I was looking forward to settling with one woman for a change.
I landed my first full time employment after experiencing different types of work.  Didn’t pay much $6.50 an hour, but it was a start.  I started off as an order picker, easy job just filling orders and getting them ready for the shipper.  Fun job, regular breaks, started at 8:00 am and finished at 4:30.
After about 3 months the shipper had quit so I started packing the orders I had picked and prepared for shipment.  I had picked all the orders that came in and now had to have them ready for shipment.  The Warehouse manager was showing me what needed to be done to prepare the packages for the courier company and what forms needed to be completed for each shipment.
There were shipments all over Canada and they needed to be weighed and priced out for invoicing.  So we start one package at a time and managed to get all the orders packed, invoiced and ready for pick up by the courier company.
No sweat!
Six months into my employment I met some great people, brought my mom to work as well as a seamstress.  The company was manufacturing Shower curtains and they were short staff so I mentioned the opportunity to my mom and my employer and that week she started work.
7 months into my employment I arrive at work and find out that the warehouse manager had quit.  I was thinking what happens now?  I had gotten to know the designer very well during my time here and asked him what I should do?  He looked at me and said, “just follow the system”.  I looked at him and said, “What system?” Just repeat everything you were taught and follow it. 
This was strange to me for I had never taken control of anything till that day.  The boss was not in so I had no instructions except for the orders that were prepared for me.  So my lesson began.
Shipment from Switzerland arrives and the merchandise need to be counted entered into it’s designated section and inventory updated.  OK, all done. That only took me two hours.  Now I need to pick the orders for today’s shipment.
Started picking the orders and laid them out on the floor one by one.  This process took me about 2.5 hours, time was getting late the courier was going to be here at 3:30 and it was lunchtime.  I had no help but I knew it had to be done.
I was speaking with Helmit over lunch and we talked about just following the same routine as I’ve seen everyone do time after time.  I was shocked to see how much I had accomplished in such a short period of time.
After lunch I started packing all the orders, I was having a great time, radio playing listening to all the hits being played and at times I remember hearing the same tune twice.  With all the excitement between the music and the thrill of doing something different for a change just drove me.
3:30 had come around and all the parcels were packed, tagged and invoiced, I looked around and said to Helmit “now what”.  He asked me if I had done everything and I said yes, order came in, entered into inventory, picked all the orders, packed them and parcels are ready at the shipping door on the skids for the courier to pick them up.
I was sitting at the Managers desk and the boss came walking into the warehouse.  I was ready a newspaper and I thought oh shit, now I’m in trouble.  He looked at me and said were are all the orders.  I told him the courier had already been here.  He asked if the shipment had arrived and I told him that it did and it was already entered into inventory.
He just looked at me and said you did this all on you own.  I told him I had spoken to Helmit and he said to just follow the system and I did.
Into my 8th month at this company, which by the way is the longest I’ve every stayed with one company I became warehouse manager.  I went from earning $13,500 a year to $45,000 in just nine months.  What a wedding present.
There is a system in everything we do in life.  Find it and work it and you will succeed.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Today, I'd like to share a story in the book called: "Respect will carry you home."

An Excerpt From

Finish Strong: Teen Athlete

by Dan Green

Western Oregon University's Sara Tucholsky had no idea that the first - and, as it turns out, only - home run of her career would cause ripples that would make her last swing of the bat as a college softball player a national media sensation.

With two runners on and her team down a run to Central Washington University, Sara hit a home run to centerfield. As she rounded first base, she missed the bag. When she turned to tag the base, she injured her knee. Able only to crawl back to the base, Sara was told that she would be called out if her teammates came to her aid. If a pinch runner checked into the game, her home run would count only as a single.

Players and fans alike were stunned when Central Washington first baseman Mallory Holtman, the conference's all-time home run leader, asked the umpire if there was any rule against opponents helping an injured player around the bases.

She was told that there was not. Together, Holtman and shortstop Liz Wallace picked up Tucholsky and carried her around the bases, stopping at each bag to allow Sara to touch it with her good leg. "It was the right thing to do," Holtman said in an interview on national television, after the respectful act of sportsmanship had been witnessed by millions on ESPN and had become a YouTube sensation.

The three runs sent Western Oregon to a 4-2 victory, ending Central Washington's chances of winning the conference and advancing to the playoffs.

"It's a great story," Western Oregon coach Pam Knox said, "something I'll never forget - the game's about character and integrity and sportsmanship, and it's not always about winning and losing."

As it turns out, the players who helped Sara had no idea of the circumstances surrounding the at-bat, or that the story would make headlines around the country. "We didn't know that she was a senior or that this was her first home run," Wallace said Wednesday. "That makes the story more touching than it was. We just wanted to help her." The gesture left Sara's Western Oregon teammates in tears. "I hope I would do the same for her in the same situation," Sara said. Central Washington coach Gary Frederick called the act of sportsmanship "unbelievable."

"In the end, it is not about winning and losing so much," Holtman, who initiated the act, said. "It was about this girl. She hit it over the fence and was in pain, and she deserved a home run."

Sunday, July 10, 2011

New American Socialism

You can't just call our economic system "socialism." It's not. There's a profit motive and private ownership of nearly all assets. Socialism has neither of these. Besides, far too many people have become far too rich in our system to simply label it "socialism."

Click here to read more

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Rate Hikes to Return in Fall

- "New Neutral" rate nearly half of historic norm - mostly owing to strong dollar - BMO encourages potential home buyers to stress-test their mortgage ahead of possible interest rate increases - BMO survey shows that two-thirds of Canadians say they will still be able to service their mortgage payments if interest rates go up 


Click here for full story

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Beware lines of credit, expert warns

Canadians owe it to themselves to understand good debts vs. bad

Her story is not unique in Calgary or Canada, where household debt has soared to $1.5 trillion. The figure translates to a debt level of approximately $176,461, including mortgage costs, for an average two-child household, according to a report released mid-June by the Certified General Accountants Association of Canada.
Read more:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Money Masters

We Need to go back to the Gold Standard.  Stop borrowing money from the Federal Reserve which is a private bank, not owned by Government.  If the Federal Reserve Bank can  print money out of nothing why can't government?  Instead of paying interest to the Federal Reserve or The Bank of Canada we can pay down the National Debt.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Who owns your mortgage?

Mortgage mess: Who really owns your mortgage?

Scott Pelley explains a bizarre aftershock of the U.S. financial collapse: An epidemic of forged and missing mortgage documents

Do you know who really owns your mortgage? As Scott Pelley reports on "60 Minutes" this week, that question has become a nightmare for many homeowners since the invention of mortgage-backed securities. Yes, those were the exotic investments that sparked the financial collapse in this country. And the're still causing problems.

As it turns out, Wall Street cut corners when it bundled homeowners' mortgages into securities that were traded from investor to investor. Now that banks are foreclosing on people, they're finding that the legal documents behind many mortgages are missing. So, what do the banks do? As Pelley explains in this video, some companies appear to be resorting to forgery and phony paperwork in what looks like a nationwide epidemic.

Even if you're not at risk of foreclosure, there could be legal ramifications for a homeowner if the chain of title has been lost. Watch the "60 Minutes" report and listen to Pelley's discussion with "60 Minutes Overtime" editor Ann Silvio about the findings of his reporting team.
Watch Scott Pelley's report.

Have you contacted your mortgage servicing company to find out whether your mortgage has been bundled and sold? Did you get a clear answer and a copy of your mortgage paperwork to back it up? Share your experience with other homeowners below.


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mortgage Brokers Do It Better!

Denise Deveau, Postmedia News · Mar. 30, 2011 | Last Updated: Mar. 30, 2011 4:04 AM ET
Cheryl Hutton and Aaron Coates always thought getting a mortgage would be a challenge. But within 18 days of visiting a mortgage broker, they were able to close a deal on a new townhouse in Calgary without a hitch.
Now in their early thirties, both have careers in the theatre, something Ms. Hutton says has been a bit of a sticking point with banks. "In our industry we never fit the paperwork guidelines 'for the banks.' For some reason, people don't think we pay our bills."
Although it was their first home purchase, Ms. Hutton says it was surprising how easy the whole process was once they had someone who could walk them through it. "He sat us down, told us what our options were, showed us that it was possible and explained all the steps we needed to take. If it wasn't for him, we may not have made the leap."
Sorting through a mortgage process and negotiating rates can be overwhelming for firsttime and seasoned home buyers alike. That's why people such as Ms. Hutton and Mr. Coates turn to brokers to do the legwork for them.
Yet mortgage brokers will tell you that a good portion of home buyers out there don't really understand what they do. "Part of the challenge we have in our world is that people aren't really sure what a mortgage broker is," says Gary Siegle, regional manager for Invis Inc., a mortgage brokerage firm in Calgary.
Brokers should not be confused with "rovers," mortgage specialists attached to a specific financial institution who visit customers outside of banking hours, Mr. Siegle explains.
"They only deal with that bank's product. A broker, however, is an intermediary whose job is to make a match between a lender and a borrower. We represent the individual, not the bank."
About 30% of mortgages in Canada are done through a broker, according to Perry Quinton, vicepresident, marketing, for Investor Education Fund, a Toronto-based non-profit financial information service.
"The reason more people don't know about them is because the banks are so visible. It's easy to gravitate to them when you have your savings accounts, credit cards and investments there already," Ms. Quinton says.
Going for the comfort factor could cost you however, she adds. "A broker has access to different lenders including banks, and can shop rates and features. A halfper-cent may not sound like much but that could make a difference of about $20,000 for a $250,000 mortgage amortized over 25 years. Any little bit helps."
Mr. Siegle confirms that shopping around can deliver significant savings.
"Let's take today's average posted rate of 5.44%, and you get a point off that at your bank. So you think you just got a really great deal. But the vast majority of rates we deal with as brokers would be another 30 basis points lower -around 4.14%. And if you look at preferred deals that don't offer features such as prepayment privileges, it can get as low as 3.89%. That's another 25 basis points below what's generally available."
The reason for that is simple, he says. "We offer wholesale rates, banks offer retail."
For anyone considering a broker, Ms. Quinton advises people to do a bit of groundwork first if they have the time.
"It helps to educate yourself about options and what you can afford. Look at all your living expenses, including student loans and credit card debt. Chances are you are understating those."
Another thing to look into is the different types of available mortgages and features, including interest rates, payment frequency, amortization, cash-back programs and the ability to make lump sum payments.
"Knowing these things before you go in can save you a lot of money," she adds.
Any mortgage broker you choose should always meet the right licensing and education requirements, so be sure to check their registration.
If you're not completely prepared, however, that shouldn't be a concern when working with a good mortgage broker, Mr. Siegle says.
"After all, mortgages are pretty much all we do. So even if you come in cold, good brokers will walk you through the process and ask all sorts of questions," Mr. Siegle notes.
"You just need to be prepared to answer them openly and honestly so they can get you the best deal possible."Experts Best at Brokering Mortgages

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Canada Bonds Rally With Bernanke And Supply The Focus

TORONTO (Dow Jones)--Canadian bonds were rallying Wednesday after seven-straight days of declines, moving in tandem with U.S. Treasurys, after U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said it will be several years until employment normalizes and acknowledged that inflation is still quite low.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Canada’s Economic Action Plan Continues to Create Jobs and Economic Growth

Minister of Finance to Meet Private Sector Economists

The Honourable Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance, will meet with private sector economists on Tuesday, February 1, 2011.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Release of The Fiscal Monitor

There was a budgetary deficit of $4.5 billion in November 2010, compared to a deficit of $4.4 billion in November 2009.

Click here to read more.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mortgage deal revives stalled market

Canada’s moribund commercial mortgage-backed securities market is awakening from a three-year slumber.
Two major real estate companies are tapping the market for $206-million in the first deal of its kind since 2007, signalling that investors are returning to a sector they had abandoned over worries about the health of the country’s commercial real estate market.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Harper Government Is Keeping Taxes Low for Canada’s Job Creators

The Honourable Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance, joined other Ministers across the country today to highlight tax relief for Canada’s job creators.

What if competitive devaluation becomes the global norm?

On Friday, 28 January 2011, Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney will participate in a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting.

Topic: What if competitive devaluation becomes the global norm?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Canada Imposes New Mortgage Rules

Canada imposed new curbs on mortgage lending on Monday amid concern about spiralling consumer debt fuelled by high property prices and low interest rates.

Jim Flaherty, finance minister, said that the changes, the third tightening in mortgage rules since mid-2008, were designed to encourage savings and insulate taxpayers from risks associated with consumer debt.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

CMHC releases preliminary data on housing starts for 2010

Preliminary data released today by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) show total housing starts registered in 2010 for the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area increased by 13 per cent to 29,195 units. In December,

click here to read full report