Category Archives: Money

10 Things Confident People Don’t Do

Today’s material comes courtesy of Travis Bradberry who is the author of “Emotional Intelligence.”  I hope you enjoy the read and can utilize some of these tips as we head into 2017 to become a more confident person in every aspect of your life.

In The Empire Strikes Back, when Yoda is training Luke to be a Jedi, he demonstrates the power of the Force by raising an X-wing fighter from a swamp. Luke mutters, “I don’t believe it.” Yoda replies, “That is why you fail.”

As usual, Yoda was right—and science backs him up. Numerous studies have proved that confidence is the real key to success.

Studies exploring the performance gap between men and women in math and spatial skills have found that confidence plays a huge role. Women who were asked to identify their gender before taking a spatial skills test performed more poorly than those who weren’t. Women also performed better when they were told to envision themselves as men, and both genders performed better when they were told that their gender is better at the task.

What’s even more interesting is that the gender gap practically disappeared when participants were required to answer every question. Apparently, when the women were allowed to skip questions, they did so not because of a lack of knowledge, but because of a lack of confidence.

“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” — Vincent Van Gogh

True confidence is very different from egotistical swagger. When people believe in themselves and their abilities without bravado, there are certain things they simply don’t do.

They don’t make excuses. If there’s one trait confident people have in spades, it’s self-efficacy—the belief that they can make things Image result for making excuseshappen. It’s about having an internal locus of control rather than an external one. That’s why you won’t hear confident people blaming traffic for making them late or an unf
air boss for their failure to get a promotion. Confident people don’t make excuses, because they believe they’re in control of their own lives.

They don’t quit. Confident people don’t give up the first time something Image result for Don't quitgoes wrong. They see both problems and failures as obstacles to overcome rather than impenetrable barriers to success. That doesn’t mean, however, that they keep trying the s
ame thing over and over. One of the first things confident people do when something goes wrong is to figure out why it went wrong and how they can prevent it the next time.

They don’t wait for permission to act. Confident people don’t need somebody to tell them what to do or when to do it. They don’t waste time asking themselves questions like “Can I?” or “Should I?” If they ask themselves anything, it’s “Why wouldn’tI?” Whether it’s running a meeting when the chairperson doesn’t show up or going the extra mile to solve a customer’s problem, it doesn’t even occur to them to wait for somebody else to take care of it. They see what needs to be done, and they do it.

They don’t seek attention. People are turned off by those who are desperate for attention. Confident people know that being yourself is much more effective than trying to prove that you’re important. People catch on to your attitude quickly and are more attracted to the right attitude than what, or how many, people you know. Image result for Seek attentionConfident people always seem to bring the right attitude. Confident people are masters of attention diffusion. When they’re receiving attention for an accomplishment, they quickly shift the focus to all the people who worked hard to help get them there. They don’t crave approval or praise because they draw their self-worth from within.

They don’t need constant praise. Have you ever been around somebody who constantly needs to hear how great he or she is? Confident people don’t do that. It goes back to that internal locus of control. They don’t think that their success is dependent on other people’s approval, and they understand that no matter how well they perform, there’s always going to be somebody out there offering nothing but criticism. Confident people also know that the kind of confidence that’s dependent on praise from other people isn’t really confidence at all; it’s narcissism.

They don’t put things off. Why do people procrastinate? Sometimes it’s simply because they’re lazy. A lot of times, though, it’s because they’re afraid—that is, afraid of change, failure, or maybe even success. Confident people don’t put things off. Because they believe in themselves and expect that their actions will lead them closer to their goals, they don’t sit around waiting for the right time or the perfect circumstances. They know that today is the only time that matters. If they think it’s not the right time, they make it the right time.

They don’t pass judgment. Confident people don’t pass judgment on others because they know that everyone has something to offer, and they don’t need to take other Image result for Passing judgmentpeople down a notch in order to feel good about themselves. Comparing yourself to other people is limiting. Confident people don’t waste time sizing people up and worrying about whether or not they measure up to everyone they meet.

They don’t avoid conflict. Confident people don’t see conflict as something to be avoided at all costs; they see it as something to manage effectively. They don’t go along to get along, even when that means having uncomfortable conversations or making unpleasant decisions. They know that conflict is part of life and that they can’t avoid it without cheating themselves out of the good stuff, too.

They don’t let a lack of resources get in their way. Confident people don’t get thrown off course just because they don’t have the right title, the right staff, or the money to make things happen. Either they find a way to get what they need, or they figure out how to get by without it.

They don’t get too comfortable. Confident people understand that getting too comfortable is the mortal enemy of achieving their goals. That’s because they know that comfort leads to complacency, and complacency leads to stagnation. When they start feeling comfortable, they take that as a big red flag and start pushing their boundaries again so that they can continue to grow as both a person and a professional. They understand that a little discomfort is a good thing.

Bringing It All Together

Embracing the behaviors of confident people is a great way to increase your odds for success, which, in turn, will lead to more confidence. The science is clear; now you just have to decide to act on it.

Tell us if you agree or not!

When Should You Say No To Your Boss (Courtesy of Travis Bradberry)

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Happy hump day people!  As the mornings continue to get cooler and cooler (even if the afternoons don’t) I am getting more and more excited for the fall season.  If you are a frequent reader of our blog than you know how important I believe work-life balance is not only to a healthy lifestyle but also to a successful marriage and family life. Thus, whether you are single or married balancing both is an important aspect that should be taken seriously.

I am a big fan of Travis Bradberry who has authored several books including Emotional Intelligence 2.0 This is a highly recommend read regardless of your career path, experience level or age. Whenever I see a new article he has written on LinkedIn I always make it a point to read it as soon as possible.  I have found his insights invaluable while I was debating my next career move.

Below is his most recent article on LinkedIn and since many of my readers have demanding jobs and in turn demanding bosses, I wanted to share this with you.  I have learned the hard way that balance is key and wished I had used some of this advice 12 months ago.  Enjoy!

The typical workday is long enough as it is, and technology is making it even longer. When you do finally get home from a full day at the office, your mobile phone rings off the hook, and emails drop into your inbox from people who expect immediate responses.

While most people claim to disconnect as soon as they get home, recent research says otherwise. A study conducted by the American Psychological Association found that more than 50% of us check work email before and after work hours, throughout the weekend, and even when we’re sick. Even worse, 44% of us check work email while on vacation.

A Northern Illinois University study that came out this summer shows just how bad this level of connection really is. The study found that the expectation that people need to respond to emails during off-work hours produces a prolonged stress response, which the researchers named telepressure. Telepressure ensures that you are never able to relax and truly disengage from work. This prolonged state of stress is terrible for your health. Besides increasing your risk of heart disease, depression, and obesity, stress decreases your cognitive performance.

We need to establish boundaries between our personal and professional lives. When we don’t, our work, our health, and our personal lives suffer.

Responding to emails during off-work hours isn’t the only area in which you need to set boundaries. You need to make the critical distinction between what belongs to your employer and what belongs to you and you only. The items that follow are yours. If you don’t set boundaries around them and learn to say no to your boss, you’re giving away something with immeasurable value.

Your health. It’s difficult to know when to set boundaries around your health at work because the decline is so gradual. Allowing stress to build up, losing sleep, and sitting all day without exercising all add up. Before you know it, you’re rubbing your aching back with one hand and your zombie-like eyes with the other, and you’re looking down at your newly-acquired belly. The key here is to not let things sneak up on you, and the way you do that is by keeping a consistent routine. Think about what you need to do to keep yourself healthy (taking walks during lunch, not working weekends, taking your vacations as scheduled, etc.), make a plan, and stick to it no matter what. If you don’t, you’re allowing your work to overstep its bounds.

maxresdefaultYour family. It’s easy to let your family suffer for your work. Many of us do this because we see our jobs as a means of maintaining our families. We have thoughts such as “I need to make more money so that my kids can go to college debt-free.” Though these thoughts are well-intentioned, they can burden your family with the biggest debt of all—a lack of quality time with you. When you’re on your deathbed, you won’t remember how much money you made for your spouse and kids. You’ll remember the memories you created with them.

Your sanity. While weCTivGgYUsAAz9lF all have our own levels of this to begin with, you don’t owe a shred of it to your employer. A job that takes even a small portion of your sanity is taking more than it’s entitled to. Your sanity is something that’s difficult for your boss to keep track of. You have to monitor it on your own and set good limits to keep yourself healthy. Often, it’s your life outside of work that keeps you sane. When you’ve already put in a good day’s (or week’s) work and your boss wants more, the most productive thing you can do is say no, then go and enjoy your friends and hobbies. This way, you return to work refreshed and de-stressed. You certainly can work extra hours if you want to, but it’s important to be able to say no to your boss when you need time away from work.

Your identity. While your work is an important part of your identity, it’s dangerous to allow your work to become your whole identity. You know you’ve allowed this to go too far when you reflect on what’s important to you and work is all that (or most of what) comes to mind. Having an identity outside of work is about more than just having fun. It also helps you relieve stress, grow as a person, and avoid burnout.

Your contacts. While you do owe your employer your best effort, you certainly don’t owe him or her the contacts you’ve developed over the course of your career. Your contacts are a product of your hard work and effort, and while you might share them with your company, they belong to you.

Your integrity. Sacrificing your integrity causes you to experience massive amounts of stress. Once you realize that your actions and beliefs are no longer in alignment, it’s time to make it clear to your employer that you’re not willing to do things his or her way. If that’s a problem for your boss, it might be time to part ways.

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Bringing It All Together

Success and fulfillment often depend upon your ability to set good boundaries. Once you can do this, everything else just falls into place.

What do you do to set boundaries around your work? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

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In Order to Be Successful, You Will Need to Find Joy in Cleaning Up Your Own Mess

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I came across this article on LinkedIn this week and while not profound I certainly could relate given my recent move to Nashville. If you have been following us for the last 20 months you are aware how awful our time in St. Louis (on every level just about) had been.

I found it impossible to not let all the bad things influence my attitude, life choices and overall outlook on life.  It was a pretty quick downward spiral that I stayed in for most of the time I was there (just ask my wife.)  It wasn’t until early June when I finally realized our time in St. Louis was coming to an official end that I once again found joy.

Our journey in life, love and career truly is never a straight line nor does it typically continue in an upward trajectory.  Instead it is filled with moments of heartbreak, disappoint, joy, success and everything in between.  It is how we handle the good and the bad that will determine our outlook on life (yes you can handle the good stuff poorly.)

Okay  I will get off my soap box and let Bruce Kasanoff take over. Hope you enjoy!

———-

One morning last week, I made myself a bowl of oatmeal, poured an iced tea, and headed towards my home office. But I was already preoccupied with work and not really paying attention. My toe caught the edge of the second step. Wham! Oatmeal and tea splattered everywhere.

At 7:58:01 I was excited about a great new idea. At 7:58:31 I was mopping up a mess.

This is a trivial example, but it’s also the way life is. Fresh out of business school, I took a job with Citibank and headed to Europe to travel for a month before joining the workforce. While I was away, the division that hired me shut down, and I lost my job before it started.

Fortunately, things also work in unexpectedly positive ways. I found the best job of my career by answering an ad that Seth Godin placed in the New York Times. His ad said, “Before you come to our open house, read The One to One Future by Don Peppers and Martha Rogers.”

I bought the book on the way to Seth’s event, intending to skim it in his parking lot, but ended up reading almost the whole book in my car. Weeks later, I was working for Don and Martha’s company.

You walk through one door and a bucket of water falls on your head. You walk through another and someone doubles your salary. (Of course, most times when you walk through a door, you simply enter another room.)

Since people don’t like uncertainty, many of us delude ourselves that we know what’s on the other side of each door through which we pass.

This, of course, is wrong.

Once you understand this, you end up with only two logical strategies:

1. When you fail, act as though success is following close behind: Don’t give up or give into self-pity. Don’t accept that your fate is bleak or hopeless. Just dig in and work your way back towards the light.

In real life, many people get worn down by adversity. They start to believe that their fate is to do badly. Your fate is what you believe it to be, so never accept this conclusion.

2. When you succeed, act as though failure is following close behind: If and when you get to the top of the mountain, do not scream, “I’m king (or queen) of the mountain!” Be as nice to people as when you were working your way up from the bottom. Be cautious with your newly-earned gains. Recognize that this, too, shall pass.

In real life, people love to believe that they are 100% responsible for their success. Not true.

The people around you are largely responsible for your success; never, ever forget that.

My favorite saying, which comes in many slightly different forms, is this: Gain your pleasure from the journey itself, not from some distant destination.

Don’t let your happiness depend on a perfect outcome to your day, year, or decade.

In other words, when you spill your oatmeal, have fun cleaning it up.

Tell us if you agree or not!

Why Every Parent Should Have a Will

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Editors Note: Nothing in this article is meant to be considered legal advice nor does it include legal representation.  As with all legal issues you should always consult your attorney and estate planning professional.

What is a Will, And What Can It Do For Me?

A will is a document that specifies who will inherit your bank accounts, real estate, jewelry, cars, and other property after you die. You can leave everything to one person or divvy it up in small, specific portions, such as your baseball card collection to your brother or your ’65 GTO to your best friend. But a will is much more than a means of distributing your property when you’re gone — especially if you have kids.

For parents, making a will is the single most important thing you can do to make sure your child is cared for by the people you would choose if anything should happen to you. In your will you can designate a person (guardian) to care for your children if you die before they become legal adults. And you can designate a property guardian or trustee to manage your money for your children until they reach adulthood. You can appoint one person to act as both personal and property guardian, or choose two people to carry out the separate roles.

If you’d like to help streamline the wrap-up of your affairs after you’re gone, you can name an “executor.”  An executor pays your debts and taxes and then makes sure the rest of your estate goes to the people you’ve chosen.

There are many other things you can use a will for, including these: To make charitable contributions; to donate organs; to specify funeral arrangements; and to state your preferences about life support by creating a living will, healthcare directive, or directive to physicians as a separate document.

One caution: Certain assets such as life insurance policies, 401(k)s, and IRA accounts have beneficiary forms that trump wills. That means the funds in these accounts are distributed to whomever you named as beneficiaries, no matter what you specify in your will. Be sure to check the beneficiaries on these accounts — and make any changes — to align with your will.

What Happens if I Die Without a Will?

Without a will, there’s no guarantee that when you die your money will go to the people you want or that your children will be cared for by the person you believe will do the best job.

This may come as a shock, but if you die without a valid will, state laws require that your property be divided according to a fairly inflexible formula. In most states your spouse, if you have one, would receive only about one-third to one-half of your estate. The rest would be earmarked for your children.

Sounds fine, but without a will, in some states a state-appointed administrator (who charges fees for the service) would control your children’s money until each child turned 18. That means your spouse wouldn’t be able to access the money to help raise your children without going through a very complicated legal procedure. And even if the courts decided that your spouse could hold the funds earmarked for your children in trust, he or she would have to supply the court with an accounting of how the money is used each year.

Moreover, if you and your partner both died without a will, the state courts and social services department would appoint someone to raise your children. And that person might have very different ideas about parenting than you do. Even if you think you have almost no property to leave your children, it’s worth making a will to make sure you get to choose their guardian.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Make a Will?

Technically no, you don’t.  However, do you need a doctor to perform an appendectomy?  Technically no.  Although I assume you would prefer to live through the operation.

corona-del-mar-estate-planning-attorney-orange-county-2Many people believe if they draft a will by hand that this is sufficient to pass their items and money to family members.  Most states will not recognize this kind of document and your family will be back to square one.

You can have Legal Zoom draft a will for you and they do a decent job at a reasonable price.  Just keep in mind you get what you pay for. This is one of the most important steps you can take as a parent (and as a decent human) so spend the money to have it done correctly.  If all you are doing is the Will and Living Will most attorneys do that relatively cheaply, especially since we have been losing money hand over fist to websites like Legal Zoom.  Pay to have it done correctly.  It is too important to be cheap about it.

What Makes a Will a Legal Document?

There are several requirements for making your will a legal document.

  • It usually must be typed or computer generated. Handwritten wills are legal in some states.
  • You must state somewhere in the document that it is your will.
  • You must date and sign your will.
  • You must sign your will in the presence of at least two witnesses (three in some states, such as Vermont) and your witnesses must also sign.

A legal will doesn’t have to be notarized (except in Louisiana), nor does it have to be recorded or registered with any government agency. After your will has been signed, put it in a safe and fairly obvious place, like a locked metal file cabinet, and tell your spouse, partner, or executor where it is.

Safe deposit boxes are not always a good place for wills because many banks have restrictions on who can access and remove things from them. If a family member or executor can’t open your safe deposit box, it could tie up your estate for some time. Make sure you understand your bank’s rules about withdrawals from safe deposit boxes before putting your will in one.

For many families the real hurdle of creating a will is emotional. To make things easier and maybe even  fun, make a pact with another family or two to get your wills done at the same time. Since you need at least two witnesses not named in your will, get together and sign each other’s documents over bagels and coffee or wine and cheese. This can take a lot of the intimidation out of the process.

How Can I Make Sure My Child is Taken Care of When I’m Gone?

Start by making a separate legal will for each parent: Joint wills don’t make a lot of sense, even if it seems more efficient to create just one document. A joint will binds the survivor to the provisions of the will, which doesn’t leave a lot of room for the surviving parent to change his or her mind if circumstances change radically.

Guardianship-Attorney-Lakeland-FloridaNext, make sure you name your spouse or partner as your sole beneficiary. Otherwise the court might divide your property between your spouse and kids and appoint a state administrator to oversee your children’s property until each one turns 18. Name your children as alternate beneficiaries in case you and your partner pass away at the same time.

State that your spouse or partner is to be the guardian of your children in case one of you dies. Then name someone else as an alternate guardian in case your spouse is unwilling or unable to care for your children. Spelling it out prevent someone from coming forward and disputing the custody of your children. If you don’t name a guardian, anyone who’s interested can ask for the position, leaving a judge to decide what’s best for your children.

Choosing a guardian is probably the most difficult task for parents. It’s hard to imagine anyone else parenting your children. But it’s also one of the most important things you can do to ensure your children’s future well-being.

You should also name a trustee – someone to manage whatever property you pass on to your children until they become legal adults. If you don’t name a trustee, the court will do it for you.

You can choose one person as both the guardian and trustee or choose two different people. Experts disagree on the best way to handle this. Some say it’s easier to choose the same person to care for your children and their money, while others warn that people who make good parents may not be the best at handling money. Think this one through and talk it over with your partner.

What’s the Best Way to Leave Property to My Child?

There are many ways to leave property to young children. According to Steve Elias, editor of The Quick and Legal Will Book by Nolo, the following are some of the most common. In each case, you need to choose someone to oversee the transfer of your assets.

Property guardianship
You can name a property guardian to handle your finances on behalf of your growing children. A property guardian is appointed by the court, according to the instructions in your will, and the court closely monitors his actions.

A property guardian is required to file a beginning and ending inventory of your estate as well as annual paperwork on how he’s managing the money. Any decisions he makes are subject to court approval. A property guardianship ends when each child turns 18. When that time comes, your child can spend the money on whatever he likes with no restrictions.

Although this is the least complicated way to pass property to your children, it can be very burdensome for the person you name as property guardian. However, if you’re not completely confident that the personal guardian you choose will make solid financial decisions, you may welcome the court’s oversight. Otherwise, you might prefer one of the options listed below.

Custodial account (Uniform Transfer to Minors Act)
If the person you plan to name as your children’s financial trustee or property manager has a history of making solid financial decisions, consider leaving money to your children in custodial accounts. The courts have no oversight over these accounts, which are governed by the Uniform Transfer to Minors Act (UTMA).

UTMA is the same across nearly all states, so the property manager (also known as a custodian in this case) will be recognized by most financial institutions immediately. That recognition makes the job smoother and easier. Any bank or stockbroker can set up a custodial account for you in minutes.

Trust fund
A trust fund is most useful if you have complex assets that you’d like to pass on to your children, such as a family business or significant amounts of money or property.

A trust fund gives you much more control over your money. It allows you to name the age at which distributions are made to your children, parcel out a little money at a time, and restrict how the funds are used. You can create the trust and appoint a trustee in your will. That person will then need to open a trust account at a bank or brokerage firm and file a tax return for the trust each year.

One downside: Because trust funds are individually tailored to meet each family’s particular circumstances, the financial trustee you name for your children has to provide more paperwork to banks or stockbrokers to document his decisions.

Do I Need to Worry About Taxes Eating Up My Child’s Inheritance?

For 2011 and 2012, the lifetime gift tax exemption increased to $5 million – the same as the federal estate tax exemption – meaning you can leave up to $5 million to your children without worrying about estate taxes. Couples can together leave up to $10 million.

Keep in mind that life insurance policies, pension benefits, and real estate all count toward your total assets. (This is the different from the annual gift tax exclusion, which is $13,000.)

If you know or suspect that your estate will be worth more than the exemption amount, talk to an estate attorney about how to minimize the tax burden on your children.

I hope you found this helpful!  I cannot stress enough how important this step is.  Don’t delay!

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Five Steps to Conquering Your Fear

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(I am sharing this article courtesy of Huffington Post)

Editors Note: I came across the below excerpt on Huffington Post a while back and I found it spoke quite a bit to where I am, not only in my career but also in my personal life.  The example of being a photographer is not mine but you can insert whatever it is you are fearful of doing and it will work just the same.  Fear can rob us of a lot of things including happiness, our destiny and over satisfaction with life.  I hope you will find the motivation to tackle at least one of your fears after reading this.

It is certainly true that no matter how positive-minded you try to be, it can be painful when things don’t work out the way you want — when your application isn’t accepted at an elite school, you don’t get the job, your artwork isn’t taken by a gallery, your business doesn’t catch on or you find that you aren’t as talented as you hoped. When this happens, it is going to feel disappointing. It may make you doubt your intelligence, abilities and ideas.

That’s OK. It is a short-lived pain that will go away. It is nothing compared to the fear of failure, which drains your vitality and paralyzes you from taking the actions that bring joy and meaning into your life. So what can you do? Here is an easy-to-implement practice that will allow you to use your fear of failure as a means to take action and explore new things.

1. Identify Your Fear

Find something that you would like to try but have hesitated to do because of your fear of failure. (I want to try working as a professional photographer, but I am afraid that I might not be good enough at it to be successful.)

2. Reverse Your Thinking

Come up with a way that you can fail at it as quickly as possible. (I am going to find a setting where I can take lots of bad pictures and let people see them. I can try at my cousin’s wedding, which is happening next month.)

3. Do It Anyway

Get out there and give it a try. Make mistakes and have fun doing it. Ask others for help and feedback. (While taking pictures at the wedding, I will let people know I am a beginner and ask for comments and suggestions.)

4. Fail Forward

Use your exploratory actions as a means to learn and discover what you need to know. (What parts of taking the wedding photographs were the most or least enjoyable? What pictures did people like or dislike? What came naturally, and what do I need to work on?)

5. Find the Next Challenge

Seek out the next opportunity to do things at the limits of your abilities. (Next time, I will ask to take pictures at a wedding where I get paid for my work.)

Until tomorrow, make it a better day.

Andrew

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