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The Giving and Sharing Season

December 23, 2016 by  
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Before we get to talking about financial goals and money as I promised you last week, let’s talk about giving first. We can all give more and next week’s blog will help you finance all that you give.

Christmas is upon us and it’s the very best of seasons if we all get into the giving and sharing. There is something about giving to others that makes you feel so good and warms the soul. Most of us start by giving to our loved ones–our kids, grandkids, and spouse or significant other. The gifts don’t have to be gigantic but giving big gifts and a lot of them certainly doesn’t hurt the receiver or the giver. But don’t stop giving at just the family level. Think about your friends, even ones that you haven’t seen or heard from in years. It’s also great to give to strangers that are in need.

I’ve loved giving lots and lots of small gift to kids, not just at Christmas time but all the year round. As many of you know I love to order up $2 bills from the bank and give them at random to kids (although only when they are with a parent. I don’t want anyone to think I’m a creep.) It’s quite funny that the parent many times says, “Oh, those are so rare,” and yet anyone can get them from a bank. The kid and the parent are usually very surprised and delighted and thank me up and down with huge smiles on their faces.

I order 100 of the $2 bills at a time and have given away thousands. But the amazing thing is that as happy and delighted as the parents and kids are, I am even more stoked and happy than them. I usually tell the parent, “I think I’m being kinda of selfish because I get more pleasure, satisfaction, and joy from giving than the kids get in receiving.” I usually add the comment, “Plus, look, I invest $2 and I get back a $1000 dollar smile. I think that is a fantastic return on my investment!” So, I guess that giving can be a bit selfish but then again everyone seems to benefit from this kind of giving. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about, giving for the benefit of everyone?

So be more driven this year and give more and more for everyone’s benefit. And don’t forget that giving can be more than gifts and money–give love, give warmth, give complements … just give more of yourself.

 

Money Can’t Buy Happiness—or Can it?

November 28, 2015 by  
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We’ve all heard the old saying “money can’t buy happiness”, but like many enduring myths, this one is proving not to be true.  Harvard business professor Michael Norton says that money can and does, in fact, buy happiness in many cases.  And quite frankly my personal experience has proved his point over and over again. But really, it’s what you spend the money on that determines if that money actually brings you happiness.

As we’ve just finished the giving of ‘thanks’ on Thanksgiving Day and as we approach Christmas time and the possible gifts we can pass on to others, it’s a good idea to really think through what possible gifts would bring the most lasting happiness and satisfaction. I don’t think giving just ‘stuff’ is the answer as I think professor Norton proves.

Many years ago, I figured this ‘money myth’ really was just that—a myth. I learned it during those years when my family traveled the world. We went everywhere in Europe and had some very interesting and thrilling drives in the family station wagon through the middle eastern countries of Turkey, Syria, Jordon, Lebanon and Egypt. Later in life I even did a ’round the world’ trip. I have often found myself thinking over the grand memories of these wonderful excursions and when I compared the money spent on travel with money spent on a big screen TV or a new fancy car, the experience of the travel won every time.

Discovering that money really can buy happiness was a huge wake up call for me and motivated me in my younger years to figure out the secrets of making millions so I could really lift my happiness level and keep it up there at a high level most of the time.

When it comes to bringing lasting happiness, Professor Norton’s studies show that experience trumps the acquisition of ‘stuff’ almost all the time. That includes all kinds travel and vacations as well as a trip to the beach, mountains or an amusement park with a ride on the roller coaster.

Think about your own life and experiences.  If you are like me, you get tons of pleasure for several days even before you go on your exotic trip simply by thinking about the great things you may encounter and experience. Then you get more happiness and fulfillment during the trip or vacation.  As an extra bonus after you return home, you often live and relive that trip over and over again, sometimes for many, many years after. Compare that with how you think about the ‘stuff’ you have.  The newness of things quickly wears out and doesn’t thrill you much after a short while.

So again, think about the gifts that you may give this Christmas and maybe throw in a plane ticket or two for you kids or grandkids to some place they’ve never been. And yes, keep on earning and investing wisely to build your estate, without guilt, and give others experience rather than just stuff.

Planning the Best Year of Your Life

December 27, 2014 by  
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Have you recovered from Christmas yet? If you are like me, probably not.  It sure is a great and special time of the year.  There’s nothing like family, friends and lots of giving at this time of the year.

But now that it’s over, most of us begin thinking of the next year and what it is likely to bring. And if you are smart you will start planning and setting goals so that the next year brings you what you want it to bring, rather than what just might happen to you.

For me, I usually begin my planning by reviewing the past year.  I go through my planner week by week, reading my notes, my do lists, and my activities.  Then I review my goals and see which ones I’ve accomplished and which ones I didn’t.  Yes, that can be a bit of a downer but it also gives me a gentle kick in the butt and a renewed determination to work harder in the coming year.

I think it is best to remove yourself from any and all distractions so you can really stay focused on the task of planning your life for the next 12 months.  Personally I love to sequester myself on a long flight where I can’t be interrupted by phone calls, texting and emails. On a plane, I also don’t get diverted by picking up a book or file or any other stuff like that since I am not home or in my office where I can see and easily pick up something that takes me away from my planning.

So bottom line, I want to strongly encourage you to do a review of what you did and didn’t do as this year ends, and begin writing down what your goals and objectives are going to be for 2015. You might as well make it the best year of your life. And to a large degree that is up to you.

Like I’ve said many times before, “I am preaching to myself as I preach this message to you.” So let’s get to it!

A Time to Give, a Time to Live

December 20, 2014 by  
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What a great time of the year!  You can feel something different is in the air.  Of course, that great old Christmas music helps encourage that feeling of giving, loving and gratitude.  Whereas it’s true that the human brain craves novelty and unique experiences, our minds are also soothed and comforted by the familiar sights and sounds that the holiday season brings us.

I’m pretty sure you are like me, and most other people on this planet, in that you get that warm comforting feeling when you give a gift, whether it’s something fancy or a simple thing or you are giving of your time by doing something special for someone else.  Because, yes, to give is to live more fully.

You may have seen on the news recently, where some anonymous person gives away, at Christmas time, $100,000 dollars in $100 dollar bills to people who look like they are down on their luck and really are in need.  This year, he did it in cooperation with the police force.  And he has the officers give his gifts out.

As I watched how it all played out on a TV spot this year, I was quite emotional.  What the cops do is drive around looking for older, banged up and aging cars with people driving that look like that they don’t have a dime to their name.  Then they pull the people over as if they are going to ticket them.  Of course the drivers, as they see the cop walking up alongside the car, are wondering what they did wrong and as they roll down the window, filmed by body cams the cops were wearing, you can see the great distress on their faces. The drivers were obviously distressed. Some were defensive, others belligerent and others were simply and quietly upset.  But then when the officer reaches in and hands them a $100 dollar bill and says “Merry Christmas”, the drivers face is instantly transformed. Some looked shocked and some even started crying.  One woman said, through her tears, that now she could give her kids a Christmas present when she thought she would not be able to give them anything.

The cops were as touched as the people were by that act of giving, even though it wasn’t their money.  As I watched, I couldn’t help but catch the feeling and the emotions those camera caught and, yes, I teared up a bit myself.

I am pretty darn sure that the more we give, give, give, the more we live, live, live!  I sincerely hope you have a tremendous season of giving and you receive the great rewards that giving gives!  Merry Christmas!

 

The Gift of Appreciation

December 20, 2013 by  
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What a great time of the year this is!  It’s a season of celebrations with family and friends with all that wonderful music that usually brings back many special memories.  To me, though, it’s mostly about giving. Okay, yes, as a kid it was mostly about receiving but that was a very long time ago!

Giving returns so many super wonderful feelings in such a big way to the giver, sometimes to the point that the giver feels guilty for getting such great feelings as a reward.  Just yesterday I experienced that twinge of guilt after I had done a very small thing.

As I came out of a mall I saw two young ladies, probably in their  early to mid-20’s, sitting on a little wall taking a break from one of the shops that obviously worked at in the mall.  As I walked by I handed each of them a 2 dollar bill, saying “This is for luck. Don’t spend it.  Just keep it for luck.”  I usually give these to kids between 6 and 8 years old and watch their excited reaction and joy.  It is one of my favorite giving things to do. But I guess in this case, since I was struck by the season of giving we are in, I handed these to the young ladies without thinking.  Both girls said “Oh, I’m sorry I can’t accept this,” and I replied, “Give it to a kid and watch the big smile on their face.”

Reluctantly they accepted.  Then they began to thank me as if I’d given them $100 dollar bills.

As I started to walk away they asked, “Hey, where are you from?” and I said “Oh, I’m from here but I grew up in the Middle East, in the country of Turkey.” And then, of course, I had to lay a little Turkish on them, what little I remember. One of the girls surprised me by answering back in Arabic (the two languages have a lot of common words) and then they explained they were from Israel and they’d learned a little Arabic. So we had something in common.

As I walked toward my car I began thinking how their great appreciation for my very small gift made me feel so good.  I realized that “appreciation” is really a gift too and often a big and glorious gift.  Feeling a little connected to these young ladies and warmed by their great appreciation and friendliness, I got in my car and drove back to where they sat, giving both of them a copy of my latest book. Wow … talk about receiving a huge gift back! Their appreciative words and genuine feelings absolutely overwhelmed me.  You would have thought I’d given them a million dollars–calling me an angel from heaven and thanking me to the point that their appreciation was almost embarrassing.

What did I really take away from this experience though?  I realized that the biggest gifts any of us can give are not objects or anything you can put a price tag on, but gifts of love and appreciation. These things, without a doubt, last longer than any gift wrapped present. At this special time of year let’s all try to give more and return more with our sincere appreciation!!

Family is Where the Heart Lies

December 23, 2011 by  
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On the eve of our Christmas weekend, I have to say my thoughts are very much with my family. I am truly blessed to have such a wonderful, supportive, fun, and loving family. I know many of you feel the same way. But on the other hand, I have known too many people that don’t have strong bonds with their relatives. The reasons for this are all over the map but in the end, these reasons aren’t as relevant as realizing what family really means and being with your true family on the holidays.

The phrase “Home is where the heart is” can be easily transformed into “Family is where the heart is”. It’s the same thing. I saw a news segment this week about a gentleman who won the lottery but without even a bit of hesitation has already determined he will not be leaving his job. Why? Because, he says, his work crew is his family. That is where he feels he belongs and no amount of money is going to buy him that feeling anywhere else. I thought that was great.

I hope you all are able to be at the place where your heart lies this weekend, where the people who make you feel loved and that you belong among them are gathered around you. If it’s not actually your relatives, then hopefully you are surrounding yourself with those friends who know you well, the people you laugh with and the people who are there for you 24/7. This weekend, I hope you are exactly where you want to be and make sure all those around you know how much they are loved and appreciated.

A very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all.