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Learning About What It Takes to Make it to 100 … from Kids

January 27, 2017 by  
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kauai kidsI’m am sure hoping that you, my reader, are not getting tired of me talking about being on the beautiful beaches of Kauai and sharing some of my insights and discoveries on life and living. Why? Well, because I’m once again on the beach and am still thinking, talking and writing about “100 wonderful ways to live to be 100”. I do, however, want to add one of my own to that list to make it the list of “101 Ways to Live to be 100.”

The list of 100 does include “have a family” but I would add this to the list:

101. Hang out, play with, observe, and learn lessons from your kids and grandkids.

This addition to the list is one activity that will certainly bring a smile to your face and, no doubt, will add years to your life. Right now, as I write this, I’m watching my son and grandson as they begin their snorkeling adventure not too far from the shoreline. Their excitement, especially my grandson’s, is so sky high because it’s such a new experience for him. Meanwhile, I can see my wife and our 4-year-old grandson and his 8-year-old sister having an absolute ball splashing in a very small and shallow pool of water surrounded by coral and lava rock. Such simple entertainment can bring such a high level of joy and happiness.

As adults, we can, and should, learn so much from these kids. Why do such simple activities bring so much pure joy and entertainment? It’s because these things are new and unusual for them and our brains are always seeking novelty. When we experience new things, our brains are stimulated to produce two brain chemicals that make us happy, excite us, and make us feel good. Those two brain chemicals are serotonin and dopamine. The problem with being adults is that basically we’ve been there and done that so many times that it’s not new, novel, or exciting to us.

Heavens … you can give a small kid a cardboard box and it can keep him entertained and happy for an hour or more as the kid crawls in and out, over and under, or makes it into as a hiding place. As adults, we can, and usually do, get great satisfaction and joy from just watching kids do these things, especially when those kids are having a blast doing them.

So, my 101 on the list is to take time to hang out and closely observe kids doing, what is to them, new things and watch how much joy and fun they get out of it. Then go one step further (and maybe this step should count as 102 on the list) and challenge yourself to come up with new activities, adventures and experiences that are very novel to you and that will most likely stimulate those two pleasurable brain chemicals.

I’m pretty darn certain that stimulating those brain chemicals is a major factor in how I push myself to visit new and different countries and cultures and to go out of my way to meet new people and make new friends. Just today I saw this very tall, good-looking guy at Walmart and noticed he had an accent. I just had to go up and ask where he was from. My guess from his height and accent was that he was Dutch. And, sure enough, he was from the Netherlands. Rob turned out to be a film maker vacationing in Kauai. Even though it was a short conversation, we decided to stay in touch and I walked away feeling great from the brief encounter because, yep, those two brain chemicals were at work.

What new and novel things excite you? If you need help identifying new things to do and try, just ask around and see what other novel and exciting things people are doing. These new experiences don’t need to be elaborate or expensive. The simple act of meeting Rob today was great, and even just driving through a totally different neighborhood, or walking, hiking or jogging on a new mountain trail can do the trick. Take time right now to make your own list. It can be eating at a new restaurant, eating a new type of food, trying out a new exercise, or making friends with complete strangers.

It’s all so worth it because not only does it make you feel good right now but it’s bound to help you live longer and live in better health–maybe even to live to be 100!!

Living Well and Healthy on the Way to 100

January 20, 2017 by  
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I would like to share with you some more thoughts about life and living and, yes, a few more things that you and I can do to increase our chances of living to be 100.

First, let me tell you about my super crazy few days this past week. The day after I wrote about how important it is to have great health I suddenly got very sick. It started with a severe case of acid reflux but then I could not eat or drink anything without huge chest pains and throwing it all up. I began to feel better after 3 days and so got some time in on beautiful Poipu beach. However, there I witnessed a guy being pulled from the ocean by a lifeguard just 20 or 30 feet from where we were relaxing and just having a good time.

Five paramedics went to work on this guy. They pounded his chest, did CPR on him, and shocked him many times–they worked on him for 20 minutes. Everyone on the beach just froze and watched as they tried to save this guy’s life. Many people were in tears, but even with all that effort and skilled professional work done by the paramedics, the guy did not make it.

The mood of all of us beach goers changed dramatically. We went from fun, games and joy to quiet and very somber. It is amazing how so many people care deeply about a person they do not even know. The young lady next to us broke down in tears. I was fighting back my own tears. The loss of life is a sad thing and, yes, we will all get to that point eventually. But this was a reminder that it is so critically important to live life to the fullest every single day, to do virtually everything we can to stay healthy and extend our lives —yes, to like 100 years old–in good health.

With that said here are a few more of the 100 Wonderful Ways to Live to Be 100:

  • Find reasons to laugh.
  • Do unto others but do not forget about yourself.
  • Do not dread getting older.
  • Get busy and stay busy.
  • (This one alone can add an average 7 years to your life.)
  • Turn off the TV.
  • Eat less.
  • Practice positive self-talk.
  • Use your brain–engage in games and intellectual stimulation.

Let’s not wait until illness or some unexpected tragedy makes us realize how valuable our life is. We can honor this gift we have, every day, by doing everything we can to not just live, but live well and healthy. And to live, yes, to be at least 100.

Habits in Saving and Investing for the Future

January 6, 2017 by  
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For the average person, the key to wealth is summed up in that simple little thing called ‘savings’. Saving can also be the key to peace of mind such as in that old phrase “Saving for a rainy day,” which means setting money aside in case of an emergency. Saving up money is just a very smart thing to do and the new year is a great time to really get serious about that and your financial life.

Your financial future begins and depends on the idea of savings. Even those with small incomes that are living hand to mouth, thinking “we are just barely breaking even,” will need to save. Yes, it can be tough to save a little money from each pay check but with good planning, some self-discipline, and giving up on things that you thought you couldn’t live without, setting a little money aside is very possible. Yes, you may have to come up with a very tight budget and forego eating out at your favorite cafe and not buy that shirt or dress that you want so badly, but the rewards are so very worth it. In the long run, a little savings can amass a very large net worth and even a fortune, plus a good deal of peace of mind.

But saving money is just part of the big picture. As you are building up your financial nest egg it’s a good idea to keep your eyes open for real estate deals that look to have great potential, even when know your savings is not near enough yet for a down payment. And yes, I am talking about and recommending those fixer uppers and dirt bag houses or apartments that need work but whose value can be greatly increased. Keeping your eye out for those bargains is a great habit to get into. You can even make offers when you don’t have the down payment.

But why, you may ask, would you do that when you don’t have the down payment? Well, first of all, it’s a great way to work on your offer writing and negotiating skills and, second, if you really do find and tie up a great bargain there is always the real possibility that you can go find a partner to put up most or, sometimes, all the money with you still owning a percentage of that bargain.

When I first started my saving and investing plan, I very quickly saw the advantage of making offers with that good old “subject to” clause which allowed me to back out if I couldn’t get the down payment or finance it. This gave me a lot of practice and, yes, I even landed a couple great bargains and brought in a partner.

So, if you don’t have much money but want to get started, begin by saving as much as you can and get in the habit of looking for those bargains. Also, you might want to pass this kind of information and strategy onto your kids, grand kids, or friends that you know are struggling financially. This kind of thing may be just what they need to get focused and find their way to financial freedom.

It’s also smart to take the time to really study and fully understand the incredible power of financial leverage and then what compounding your money can do, even when you start with just small amounts of your money. When I saw what leverage and compound could do, it turned me on and motivated me to a super high level and pushed me to save even more money and cut back on most everything.  Anyone can do the same thing.

So, as we start this new year, consider saving more and looking into bargain real estate as one of your great new year’s resolutions!

Lifting our Lives in 2017

December 30, 2016 by  
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As you look at or contemplate what you will be doing in 2017 and beyond, be sure to take a very hard look at the financial category. Life is certainly much more than just money but with plenty of money your options and success with many of your other goals in life can be greatly expanded.

For example, I just discovered that before the great actor and governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, was famous, he became a millionaire from … yep, you guessed it … investing in good ole real estate! So even if you’ve not yet started an investment program you can do so now with savings and investing goals for 2017. It may take some time to build your fortune and you may feel you have so little to contribute right now, but try never to forget the huge power of compounding your money. Compounding can multiply even a very small amount of money into millions of dollars. Certainly Arnold knows that from his experience and so do I.

Eight years ago, when I starting writing my weekly blog it was almost exclusively about taking a small amount of money and wisely investing it, mainly in real estate, to build a fortune for yourself or at least for you to make enough to live very comfortably and retire without ever diminishing your lifestyle. But I’ve also written about health and well-being, relationships and friends, and traveling to broaden one’s perspectives on living, along with many other subjects. But I’m thinking now that as we face another year it would be wise to refocus our attention and goal setting back to that money thing that can lift so many parts of our lives including the lives of those around us.

In the foreword of the book Tools of Titans, the author Tim Ferris quotes Schwarzenegger’s thoughts not only about real estate making Arnold a millionaire but about his many other accomplishments. “I am not a self-made man,” Schwarzenegger says. “I got a lot of help … I stood on the shoulders of giants,” which was his way of giving credit to his parents, coaches, and teachers.

We all need to realize and give so much credit to others that have helped us along the way and then step up and let others climb on our shoulders to lift them up. For me I give tons of credit for my success to my wonderful parents and to the great Bill Nickerson and what his book, How I Turned $1,000 into a Million in My Spare Time, did for me. I also need to credit the great Denver real estate guru, – who took me under his wing and showed me exactly how he turned a few thousand dollars into multi-millions over the years. You can read more about that great story on my June 24th, 2016 blog.

I’ve tried to help others through my investing advice, directions, books, lectures and conversations. I have received rewards of great appreciation and many thank-you’s which are worth so much more than money. One of my resolutions for 2017 is to be more helpful to others. To accomplish this, I need to go to work right now and write down the details and specific steps or actions that I am going to take to accomplish that very goal. What are your goals and do you have them written down yet? If not, let’s do it. There is no time to waste.

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.

 

The Simple List

December 16, 2016 by  
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Last week, I suggested you make lists of what you want to do, accomplish, become, and experience in the coming year. Those, of course, are called goals or resolutions and to begin thinking about them early on can lead to much better goals and better ways to reach them. So, what did you come up with?

For some people the list can get pretty long with many, many goals and objectives. Recently I’ve been reading Living the Simple Life, a book by Elaine St. James. At one point in her life she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do and become so she starting writing and making lists of different categories. She came up with five categories: Personal, Career, Financial, Spiritual and Civic. Then she made a list within each category. Under ‘Personal’ she’d ended up with a list of 20 items. That was a lot of goals to aim for all at once.

She goes on to recommend that if you want to simplify your life, you might want to limit your resolutions and goals to just a few. She says, “If you’re an incurable list maker, be open to the possibility that you may have to cut your lists back to more realistic proportions. If you’re not a list maker by nature or by habit, you might find it helpful to come up with a brief list of four or five things you’ll want to concentrate on as you begin to simplify your life. Just don’t get carried away.”

I totally agree with keeping the number of goals or resolutions that you make to just a few. Why? If you set too many or create goals that are too big, it may not be achievable and you may become very, very discouraged and depressed when you see yourself falling way short of your objectives. This can lead you to totally throw in the towel and give up, convincing yourself that resolutions–whether they are made at the beginning of a new year or in the middle–just don’t work, at least not for you. So, I hope the lists you made this past week (or are about to make) are not too long or too huge.

That is not to say that great, big goals are not okay because they are. But if they are really huge, they probably need to be spread out over many years so that they are manageable. So, look at what you’ve formulated for the new year and break these goals down into the smaller steps it will take to reach them.

Also, break them down into regular and specific items such as what you are going to do each day and maybe even what hour of the day are you going to work on them. Then, next, determine what kind of progress you’d like to see. Ask, yourself where do you want to be by, say, the end of January and then end of February, etc. Remember, baby steps can turn into a thousand miles, given enough time.

So, concentrate on those small things but keep on doing them each day and each week. Next week I’m going to talk more about financial goals that, of course, can help you with many other goals.

 

 

Friend Compounding

December 2, 2016 by  
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This week, I would like to put forth a few more thoughts on the subject of friends, that all important part of our lives that I focused on in last week’s blog. Good friends really are golden and that hit me hard when I had such a super enthusiastic response from so many of my friends on that post. It got me to thinking about how much of our lives revolve around our friends.

We love our old friends and it is so fulfilling to share our lives with them. And new friends can enhance it even more and lead you to new and exciting avenues and experiences in your life. Sometimes, however, it’s kind of awkward and difficult to approach new people, especially if you are a bit shy.

If you want an easy way to meet and make new friends you might want to try this simple method. Let’s call it “Easy Friend Networking” or “Friend Compounding”. All you need to do is plan a simple party for your friends. Then ask those friends if they could please reach out and bring, say, 2 of their best friends with them to the party or maybe even have then bring 4 or 5 of their friends. This is somewhat like the concept that made 32-year-old Mark Zuckerberg a multi billionaire—he introduced the world to friend networking through Facebook. Both ideas are similar to compounding your money only it’s a compounding of friends. Of course, the real compounding would be if the friend of the friend was to invite his or her friends.

If you invited just 10 friends to your party and they followed through by bringing an average of 4 of their friends then you would meet 40 new people in one evening. You could then decide which ones you want to get to know better and to truly become your friend. I must say that I think Facebook is great but this face to face stuff is even better.

I have a good friend, who just so happens to be my wife, share with me a great quote from the magazine, Women’s World, about the value of friends. It said, “If it’s been awhile since you’ve spent time with friends, send out an invitation to get together now. Not only will reconnecting with pals lift your spirits, it’ll raise your odds of living a long, healthy life an astounding 50%.” That statistic comes from research at both the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Brigham Young University. The article goes on to say the reason it extends your life is that it reduces stress during tough times and gives more meaning to your life plus it raises your self-esteem. And I would add that having more and closer friends can add so much fun and excitement to your life as well!

Since 2017 is right around the corner, it’s probably a good time to start thinking about what we intend to accomplish and experience in the coming year, whether it is to grow our circle of good friends, increase our health, or create more wealth. In the next couple of weeks, I want to put forth some ideas of just how to set those resolutions and the different categories which would be wise to concentrate on. I’ll also talk about how to motivate yourself to follow through and get the job done. In the meantime, enjoy your friends and compound them by planning a get together or two. It is the perfect time of year to do that since saying it is for the holidays is the only explanation you need.

Enhance Your Life with Old and New Friends

November 25, 2016 by  
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basketball-teamI think you would agree with me that there are not a lot of things in this world much better than good, close friends. I can’t even imagine my world without my friends–both the old friends from my school days and my new friends. Great friends will do just about anything for you.

When we were young men, most of our get togethers were for some kind of competition–for sports, games or whatever. And many of those competitors morphed into “best friends”. Then as we aged it was more often business that brought us together.

In my November 4th blog post, I talked about the two major tragedies of my life–the death of my brother and my daughter. This got me to thinking of my friends who quickly gathered around me and gave me tons of love and support and comfort during those times.

The attached picture was taken 2 years after my brother died on a basketball court and shows our team just after we won the big American High School tournament in Rome, Italy, a tournament that included all American High schools throughout Europe and the Middle East. These great friends in the picture were some of the best friends a person could have. They not only helped me through those tough times but also shared in my dream of winning the big tournament for my deceased brother, Bruce. It’s hard to believe that was 55 years ago and still, to this day, two of those guys in the pic are among my best friends. Richard Harvey of Cleveland, Ohio (2nd row on the right) and our big Texas center, Ed Beckcom (the guy at the top with both arms spread).

My message this week, to you and myself, is to try to reach out to old friends and go out of your way to make new friends. Believe me, it’s well worth the effort. Go ahead and sit down with your old high school or college year book and make a list of those friends that you were close to back in those days. If you’ve lost touch with them, get on the internet and try to track them down and renew those great ol’ friendships. Your life will be enhanced by these reconnections and new connections and theirs will be too!

 

The Easier Way to Reach Your Goals

November 12, 2016 by  
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Okay, first of all, there is no particularly ‘easy’ way to reach your goals but there are certainly easier ways and harder ways. Whether your goal is to make a million dollars, write a bestselling book or visit 100 different countries, the easier way to reach those goals includes a very simple thing … making lists. And I don’t mean in your head. I mean writing that list down. Why does writing out a list make reaching a goal easier? Because if you write it down it does some very good stuff inside your brain.

Chapter 7 in Henriette Klauser’s wonderful little book entitled Write It Down, MAKE IT HAPPEN tells the great story of her friend Sydne who turned her life around mainly from the single action of writing down her list of goals. Klauser says, “Writing a list gets it out of your head. Heads can be dark swamps, the conversations, the constant chatter, whatever you want to call it, keeps interfering. Writing a list gets it out of the swamp, onto paper. You can see a list in black and white and it’s real. When you reduce your goals to a list, it helps keep your focus.”

So, if you write your goals it basically changes things in your brain. She goes on to say that if your lists are very specific your brain will more likely help you reach those goals. “When you are vague and general, you are safe. Get to the essence of it; that’s when things happen. Nothing can happen when you’re generalized and safe–nothing changes.” When the writing of those lists put Sydne on the path of reaching virtually all her goals, her motto then became simply “Do it easy.”

The author’s advice is to “use listing as an opportunity to crystallize your intent–to learn what matters most to you.” She goes on to say, “Keep that list handy, and look at it regularly, especially if you lose heart or feel scared. Emblazon it in your mind. Repeat to yourself ‘This is what I want and it is waiting for me.’” Remember, keep your list very specific even for things such as buying a car. As the author says, “Don’t simply write ‘car’, write the type of car with make, model, and mileage.”

I must say that goal setting and writing down the specifics has changed my brain and improved my life in many and huge ways. When I was 27 years old I set the very specific goal to make a million dollars by the time I was 30 and yes I wrote it down and looked at that written goal on a regular basis. I went to work to find ways and means, along with great help from a couple of fantastic mentors, to hit my target. Oops I missed the goal, that is I missed the date by one year but reached it at age 31. Pretty much the same thing happened when I set the written goal to write a bestselling book. That book was How to Wake Up the Financial Genius Inside You which eventually sold over one million copies.

I am absolutely convinced that writing it down did in fact change my brain and made it all happen.  I know that it works and if you are not already writing your specific lists of goals down, I hope you start doing so right now.

 

 

I Have the Perfect Life—-Not

October 28, 2016 by  
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My last 2 blogs told of the super wonderful and exciting African Safari that my wife and I took along with our dear friend Francoise Eriksen. It was a perfect trip–all went well without any hiccups or unpleasant surprises! I’m guessing that some of my readers are thinking “Oh, what a perfect life that guy Mark has. He’s wealthy, had his 15 minutes of fame, probably lives in a mansion, and travels the world first class.”

I remember so vividly thinking exactly that as I read about the rich and famous people of the world. I really thought they must have had a perfect life—but, oh, how wrong I was.

p1020832Right after we returned from the African Safari two things happened. I watched and listened to a super famous and wealthy man on T.V. (worth hundreds of millions) talk about the tragedies in his life. He was miserable but how people all around him didn’t believe him. They really thought he had a smooth and perfect life without any bad stuff but that was so far from the truth and the reality of his life.

The second thing that happened was me coming down with the worst common cold that I’ve had in many years. Wow. Talk about major mucus and a constant hacking cough that left me breathless and with very little sleep. Ugh and super ugh! Then a thought struck me and I said to myself, “Wait a minute … why didn’t I appreciate and give great thanks for my super great health while on the Safari and, for that matter, the last 3 or 4 years that I’ve have without any sickness whatsoever?”

Isn’t it quite amazing that most of us human beings don’t appreciate or give thanks for what we have until we lose it–whether it’s our health, good relationships, money, our jobs, or–how about this one–living in a great and free country. I will say this … traveling through South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe I couldn’t help but think about how good we have it in this great country, even the poorest among us are better off than some of the people I observed as our train passed through African villages where they lived with terrible conditions.

So my message this week is, let’s all take time to pause and think about and take notice and appreciate our health, wealth (however large or small), relationships, and this great country that we live in. And let’s do that right now and not wait till we’ve lost some of it.

Next week I want to talk about some other challenges in my life. Everybody’s life, no matter how rich or famous, has its troubles and its tragedies as well as much to be grateful for.

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