Category Archives: Finances

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.

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


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.

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Five Steps to Conquering Your Fear


(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.


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Life is Not About Me – Courtesy of All Pro Dad


{Editor’s Note: For those of you who follow this blog on a regular basis you must know this particular article from All Pro Dad really hit home for me.  I am still new to learning how to lead my family, especially after being a new dad, so this was very encouraging to me. I hope it will help you too!}

“If you ain’t first, you’re last,” shouted Will Ferrell as the character, Ricky Bobby, in the movie Talladega Nights. His daddy told him that as a child right before he sped off high and drunk from Ricky’s school. He based his whole life on the words his dad left him. Moral lessons from a Will Ferrell movie? There is a lesson everywhere when we look for it. Ricky’s journey took him to eventual life victory by learning people matter over place. Being second is our topic here today.

Imagine a young couple with a newborn infant. The economy is bad, she’s at home with the baby, and he’s doing everything in his ability to provide. He’s tired, confused, and struggling. That is the moment. We all face it. When life is at its toughest is when we need to dig in and fight as a leader.  The man that places his own needs first is the man that cuts and runs every single time. Our world is full of them. That’s not the men we are called to be.

Life is not about me, and it’s not about you. Here are some tools we can use to lead our families via the power of personal sacrifice.

Leading by Example

There are hundreds of moving parts to a standard functioning family, and we are tasked with the leadership of this constantly changing, living dynamic. How do we lead our marriage to bring it to its maximum potential? How do we bring forth the best gifts and talents of our children as we guide them towards adulthood? How do we pay the bills, and how do we provide shelter and food? We have to serve more than we dictate, sacrifice more than we take, and we must constantly be planting the seeds of future success by placing our own needs second to those of the family good. Leading by example means we make it clear to our family that we will never tell them to do anything that we aren’t willing to do ourselves. If we ask our wives to cut the grocery budget by 25%, and then we play golf on Saturday spending twice the savings of the budget cut, what message was sent? Lead from second place.

Fiscal Responsibility

Debt is a killer and credit has been relatively easy to come by for most of our lives. What debt serves to do to families is enslave them. It invites worry, stress, heartache, hardship, and, at worst, total calamity. How do we avoid that self-induced prison? Personal sacrifice.

All the luxuries we pretend we can afford are, in reality, pieces of the wall being constructed to close us in. When I was a single man in my 20s, I had made a good decision and purchased my first home. I was building equity in the future. Then I got selfish as young men often do, and I ran up a lot of credit debt. When I was about to get married, it was time to sell that house. What could have been a nice bundle to start our marriage with (the equity I planned for), instead was all used up paying off credit debt. Zero sum. My wants in the now wound up hurting the future of us—my family.

Seek the True Prize

Life is competitive, and in this social media-driven era never has it been more apparent that envy and jealousy rule the decision-making process of a great many. It’s terribly destructive to lead a family in the spirit of finishing first over perceived competition. What that does is create a layer of superficial perfection on top and underneath a reality of collapse and unhappiness.

Seek the true prize—a healthy, functioning, imperfect, sometimes suffering, sometimes flourishing…real family. Being first in some great societal competition means absolutely nothing. But when you’re 85 years old and your grandchildren are bringing your great-grandchildren to see you, and your wife is still your wife and she’s beaming with glory…you will smile with what teeth you have left, and you will know you did it right. You were always second.

We want to hear from you!  Share in the comment section some of the ways you have sacrificed your own wants or desires for the good of your family?

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The Importance of Filling Out Your W-4 Correctly


Good day to you all!

Okay so this topic isn’t terribly sexy and certainly isn’t likely to generate a ton of interest (although it is incredibly important!) However, since I just had a child and had to redo my W-4 I thought it would be a good idea to discuss how to properly fill one out. In addition, I get a lot of questions about this from friends and family since I work in the tax profession.

When I looked into my current exemptions I was shocked to find out that my exemptions did not automatically carry over from New York to Missouri.  In other words, while my Federal exemptions (two) carried over my Missouri exemptions were still listed as one.  To be honest, once I utilized the calculator toward the bottom of this blog I realized I should have been claiming three last year, instead of only two.

So why is knowing how to fill out a W-4 so important?  Well that’s because this IRS form determines exactly how much money good ol’ Uncle Sam will take from your paycheck every pay period.  The more exemptions you can (rightfully) claim, the more cheddar you get to keep.

irs_sucks_stickers-rc47bb052be9f4b27937b5190b3182924_v9waf_8byvr_512Of course the IRS, being the IRS, filling out a W-4 can be very confusing.  Even though they have instructions and templates to assist you, it doesn’t really help.  Even worse, most companies don’t provide any guidance on how to complete the form either!  Rest easy.  Read the following and this will help you fill out your next W-4.

Important note: if after reading this blog you believe your current W-4 is not filled out correctly, you should speak to your Payroll or Human Resources person immediately and complete a new form. You are allowed to update your W-4 whenever you need to so don’t be intimidated if they try and tell you otherwise.  If you have recently been married (or divorced), have had children and/or you or your spouse no longer work since filling out your previous W-4 you NEED TO UPDATE YOUR W-4!

The Basics

Filling out a W-4 determines how much federal and state income tax your boss or employer must withhold from your paycheck. If your employer doesn’t give you a state W-4 to fill out be sure that your federal exemptions and your state exemption match. Many times they won’t and it is important they do.

Are You Exempt From Withholding

Chances are you are not exempt from withholding.  You can only be exempt from withholding if you have NO TAX LIABILITY.  This isn’t the same as getting a refund.  You must have no tax liability in the previous year as well as no tax liability anticipated for the current year in order to claim you are exempt from withholding.

How The Hell Do I Calculate My Allowances?

The easiest way is to utilize the Personal Allowances Worksheet that comes with the W-4.  If you are unmarried, have no dependents and are working just one job the worksheet is pretty straight forward.  Under those circumstances you can claim two exemptions; one for yourself and one for being single with one job.  You would then enter “2” as the total number of allowances that you are claiming on line 5 of your W-4.  That’s it.  You are done.

How many exemptions does she get?
How many exemptions does she get?

Now if you are married, have more than one job, will itemize or claim tax credits, things can get a bit more complicated.  That doesn’t mean you should be afraid or intimidated by this form.  For example, now that Sharlay and I have a child I am claiming four exemptions.  I am claiming on exemption for myself; one exemption for the fact I am married and only one of us is currently working; one exemption for my spouse and one exemption for Samara.  If we were making less than $65,000 a year we might be claiming more exemptions for the Child Tax Credit.

If you do not fall into the single with one job and no dependents category you can use the Deductions and Adjustment Worksheet to determine your exemptions.  This will be important to do if you itemized your deductions or claim certain tax credits or income adjustment.

If you and your spouse both work you (or you are single with more than one job) can use the Two-Earners/Multiple Jobs Worksheet. All of these things will affect your tax bill so use these worksheets to be sure you keep withholding in line.  You can also consult this IRS document for additional help.

Additional Tips

If you are married, both spouses are working and you file jointly, you should fill out the W-4 worksheets together to determine the total number of allowances you deserve.  Once you do that, divide the number between the two of you and then each of you can claim that number of exemptions on your respective W-4.

You don’t want to double-dip on deductions or credits.  Doing so will likely result in you owing a ton of money to the IRS.

If you happen to be a recent college graduate who has landed his or her first full-time gig there is also a way to avoid having too much money withheld if you aren’t working the full year.  You should use the part-year method if you expect to work less than 245 days (8 months) in the calendar year.  This allows you to set withholding according to what you will earn during part of the year at work, rather than 12 times your monthly salary.

You must give your employer a written request that part-year method be used. Unfortunately, they don’t have to comply, but if you are lucky to work for an employer who will assist you, you can count on getting a lot more dough on your first paychecks.

Can’t People Just Make Up a Number?

There is nothing that requires you to claim the exact number of allowances that you are entitled to (i.e. you can claim fewer exemptions than you may be allowed).  However, you can be penalized (big surprise!) for claiming more allowances than entitled to on your W-4.

How Often Do I Need to Fill Out a W-4?

A lot of people think once they fill out a W-4 they don’t need to worry about filling it out again.  This is the worst kind of thinking you can possibly be doing!  I have already outlined the reasons you should modify your W-4 but let’s review quickly.  First of all you have to fill out a new W-4 if you change jobs or if you add a second (or third) job to your schedule.  Yet even if you don’t switch jobs the following life events are all things that should require you to revisit your exemptions on your W-4: birth of a child, marriage and divorce. Again, you can submit a new W-4 at any time during the year to your employer.  Please don’t mail your W-4 to the IRS!  Your new exemptions should start taking effect on your next check.

Who Cares About This, If I Already Get a Huge Refund from Uncle Sam?

This is one of the biggest misconceptions out there.  If you are getting a large refund from the government every year it is probably because you aren’t claiming enough exemptions.  While a refund might seem like a good thing, it really means you are giving the moneyfederal government an interest free loan during the year because they were withholding too much of your money on EVERY CHECK! Isn’t Uncle Sam in your pocket enough already?

If you still want help you can utilize this easy-to-use withholding calculator to determine if you are claiming enough exemptions.  You will need three things: are you filing separate or joint etc, total taxable income from 2014 (or current tax yer); and total amount of your 2014 (or current tax year) refund.  Plug that information into the system and it will determine if you are in good shape or if you should make some changes.  Good luck!

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