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Just Do It with Baby Steps

September 9, 2016 by  
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As I mentioned last week, the way to reach huge goals is through the many little baby steps you take, one at a time, to get there. Reaching any big goal will have its difficulties but I think we all need to keep reminding ourselves that a big part of hitting our big goals is keeping focused on those baby steps and not being too hard on ourselves when our progress is not as fast as we want it to be.

This concept works for anything you are after. If one of your goals is to save up many thousands of dollars so you can make investments that will put you in a great position to retire, allowing you to do whatever you like such as traveling the world as you please like I do, you just start with a few baby steps. What those baby steps are depends on what you can manage. The important thing is to get started.

Let’s say you are on a real tight budget now and you just can’t afford to save the recommended 10% of your income. That’s okay, just make those baby steps do-able. You can squeeze your expenditures a bit and save just 2 or 3 percent for the time being, then after a while try to increase that to 5% and once you are doing that comfortably, push that towards 10%. The saving of just 2% right now might seem like it will never amount to big bucks, but over time it does add up because it helps you form a habit that makes it easier to increase the percentage as time goes on.

It’s not just money that works this way. For instance, most people would not think they could drop down and do 100 pushups without stopping, but most people could do 5, 10 or 20. To be able to do 100 pushups just use the baby steps concept by doing those 5 or 10 now and add a one or two more every other day and you may surprise yourself, and everybody around you especially if you or 70 or 80 years old, how easy it was for you to reach that goal!

The same goes for just about every goal we may set. Baby steps really can lead to world breaking records or at least big time records and success in your own life. And it’s always a good idea to share the baby step concept with your kids, parents and friends. Once they see how well you’re doing, it’s sure to motivate them to do better on their own goals. So share the idea and encourage those around you. If they follow it, they will not only feel great about their accomplishments but they are sure to give you lots of thanks and credit which feels pretty good!

 

 

 

Mojo Insights

July 8, 2016 by  
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Last week my wife and I hopped on a non-stop flight to London spending a few great days there in a hotel right by the Thames river and the London Eye.  We were also only 2 blocks away from all that Parliament action and the Brexit vote for Great Britain leaving the EU so it was a fairly historical moment to be there. Then we were off to Paris on the wonderful 200 mile-per-hour Eurostar train under the English Channel. It is such a smooth ride and we had such superb views of the English and French countryside and villages. The whole trip was wonderful but the beautiful ride and great times in London and Paris would not have been nearly as wonderful and fulfilling without the incredible book that my son gave me for Father’s day.

The book he gave me is called Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back If You Lose It by Marshall Goldsmith. It re-opened my eyes to things I already knew but, like so many people, I had not been paying attention to or acting on. The mojo that Marshall is talking about is that positive spirit that speaks to what we are doing now, the spirit that starts from the inside and radiates to the outside. Mojo is at its peak when we are experiencing both happiness and meaning in what we are doing and when we communicate these experiences to the world around us.

Let me give you a few “factors”, as the author calls them, that jumped out at me and motivated me to again look at myself.  He asks 4 questions and, of course, in the book he addresses each one of them with some very good answers. They are listed categorically:

“Our professional and personal Mojo is impacted by …”

  1. Identity (Who do you think you are?)
  2. Achievement (What have you done lately?)
  3. Reputation (Who do other people think you are–and what have you done lately?)
  4. Acceptance (What can you change–and when do you need to just “let it go?)

Those questions really got me thinking and I took a much deeper look at myself because I really have lost some of my Mojo. So much of my identity is based on what I was years ago and what I did then.  But the good news is that whoever we are now we can change if we really want to as long as we are willing to look at ourselves deeply and fairly.

Here are 2 other great points he makes that are very powerful and helpful. Marshal says, “…worrying about the past and being anxious about the future can easily destroy our Mojo. This sort of thinking afflicts the high and low, the rich and the poor, the achievers and the struggling.”  The other point has to do with a way to regain your lost Mojo, encompassed by the simple statement “Forgive yourself for being who you are.” In other words, we all need to work on our acceptance of others and of ourselves. He goes on to say, “I am in no way suggesting that you should not try to create change and try to make the world a better place. I am suggesting that you change what you can and let go of what you cannot change.”

Next week, I will to continue to give you some other wonderful insights into our Mojo from Marshall’s book and talk about what we can do to make it that much better. In the meantime, answer the questions you see here and see what insights come to you from this simple exercise.

 

 

A DIFFERENT TYPE OF NEWS YEAR RESOLUTION

January 2, 2016 by  
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In most years past I, and probably you too, have set new year’s resolutions to make more money, get in better physical shape, or to scratch off another item on your bucket list but I had a major brain change a couple of days ago because of a very sad event. A man I consider my older brother passed away on December 27th. I had wanted an older brother ever since my actual older blood brother died right in front of me when I was all of 15. Stein Eriksen was Norwegian and maybe because of me being part Norwegian we hit it off big time many, many years ago. He was no doubt the most famous skier on the planet and was considered the founder of modern skiing. He won a silver and a gold medal in the 1952 Olympics and 3 gold medals in world championships in 1954. But all that fame and the money that followed was not the best part of this man. He the nicest, gentlest and kindest guy you would ever want to meet and you couldn’t ask for a better friend.

Stein was 88 years old and still full of life until the very end. In fact, 16 days before he passed we spent the evening with him celebrating his birthday along with his wonderful and beautiful French wife, Francoise, their son Bjorn and 2 other friends. He was the life of the party. My wife Kimberly and I had also had the great privilege of traveling the world with Stein and his wife. We skied together in Park City, Utah, and played tennis everywhere from his cabin in Montana to Gstaad, Switzerland. We often played with the famous tennis champion Roy Emerson, the very man who introduced Stein to Francoise many, many years before. We even cycled around the islands of Croatia when Stein was in his early 80’s. And I will never forget the long barge trip we took on the scenic Seine river in France. Francoise, being French, made it even more special and, yes, we did tip back a few glasses of good ol’ French red wine.

This past Saturday we got a call from Francoise telling us that Stein had been in the hospital. She said they were sending him home to live his last days and we had better come to the house as soon as possible. By the time we got to the house he was semi-conscious. We tried to communicate with him but the most he could do was wiggle his toes trying to answer some yes and no questions. The next day he was totally unconscious and with his family and a few of his friends at his bedside, this great and wonderful man slipped into what lies next. My incredible friend and big brother was gone.

Stein’s death really didn’t hit me until the next day. Those last two days in his bedroom I found myself being the comforter to his wife and family to the best of my abilities, but the day after he died I fell apart and a piece of me died. I had lost another big brother.

Now as I face a new year when I usually set new year’s resolutions that revolve around money, health and travel, I have a totally new perspective. I want to follow in Stein’s footsteps and gather more friends and, most importantly, be a better friend to others. Money, success, and fame are little tiny things when compared to good friends. Yes, these resolutions are hard to quantify but that’s ok. I’m going after them with all my heart and all my energy.

Next week, I am going to talk about why so many people set resolutions but fall short virtually every year. You might be surprised at what science has found when it comes to this subject.

The Difference a World View Makes

September 25, 2015 by  
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As I write this, I am flying at 32,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean. Yes, that might be a pretty incredible thing for some but the incredible things on my mind are the wonderful people that we met in Ireland and the great beauty of the country side. We just spent 8 days there (my wife is part Irish but had never visited Ireland). What a wonderful country, with the greenest of  green lands  you’ll ever see and such friendly, kind people.  We flew into Dublin and rented a car then had the scary experience of driving on the wrong side of the road-at least it’s the wrong side as far as us Americans are concerned. I only screwed up twice but quickly corrected and we survived!

We drove from Dublin up to what is called the Carton House, a huge estate with a castle that is now fixed up as a hotel complete with two 18 hole golf courses and all kinds of other amenities. You see, my wife is a Carton and her family history was traced way back hundreds of years ago to the Cartons and the Fitzgeralds, both famous and very well to do families of Ireland. So we just had to visit and stay in the Carton house. We had a great time there and later drove (very carefully) to Kilkenny, the town made fun of on South Park.

Just before we left, we watched the big Gaelic Football finals. I’d never heard of the game before. It’s a combination between soccer, American football and basketball. They run with the ball, dribble it, pass it forward and backward, and kick it for a score. It’s a hugely exciting game; I loved it.

So there we were in an Irish Pub just a few blocks from the stadium packed with over 80,000 screaming fans and next to us was a beautiful couple. In short order we struck up a conversation and discovered they were from Hungary. They were such fun people. I liked them so much I insisted that I buy their lunch. It was like we were almost best friends by the time we finished lunch. That was such a great feeling and left me with such great memories. I sure hope to see them again some time, some place.

That chance meeting brought back memories of all the great people I’ve met in my life from so many different countries and cultures. I’ve had the great privilege of experiencing so much of this great world we live in and have learned so many great lessons from other cultures and peoples from my travels. The biggest life lesson I’ve learned from all these travels, at least for me is simply this:

To visit other countries and cultures and other people with different beliefs, habits and different views of the world can give us all a better and bigger mind and help you and I to be more open minded and accepting of others.

And that, my friends, is what this world needs more of. In my own personal opinion that would lead to a much more peaceful and war free world and would be a big blessing to each and every one of us. Do you see my point? I can only hope that you too will agree.

 

 

What We Can Discover in Other People’s Worlds

June 19, 2015 by  
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I don’t know about you but I absolutely love to travel, especially to foreign countries and places I’ve never ventured into before. It excites my mind and does good things for me physically as well. Psychologists have told us for years that the human brain craves and thrives on novelty and also that a brain that gets excited can many times coax or persuade the body to maintain or even create better health. It sure seems to do that for me!

My wife and I just got back yesterday from Europe. Even though I have visited the Netherlands a few times before this last trip, this visit still stimulated my mind and body quite a bit. I am sure part of that was that I’d never taken the high speed train from Paris to Amsterdam and viewed that marvelous scenery. We also stayed in an old and quaint yet very different hotel right on one of Amsterdam’s famous canals.

A few days later my wife and I again took the train but to a city I’d never visited before. Just outside the city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch (commonly known as Den Bosch) we were privileged to watch from our nice fourth row seats a great tennis tournament played on grass as a warm up tournament for the renowned Wimbledon tournament. Interacting and getting to know a few of the wonderfully friendly Dutch people was tremendously fun as well as interesting and mind expanding. I even learned that the Dutch are, on average, the tallest people on the planet.

I’ve thought many times how different the world would probably be if virtually everyone could travel and visit dozens of different countries and cultures. I can’t help but believe that if this were to happen and we all took the time to really study and get to know and understand other people, we would grow to be so much more accepting and sympathetic. It would, no doubt, greatly diminish and maybe even halt the huge conflicts and wars of the world.

Just think about how you try to help one of your kids or friends that are having problems. Most of us try to understand the causes of those problems and the more we discover, the sympathetic we are and the more we can help out. Getting to know and understand other cultures makes it more likely that we will be able to accept, and when needed, help these others people that previously we may have thought were rather strange. Next time you travel to a new place you might want to keep that in mind and see what you might discover.

 

A Profound and Particular Connection

June 12, 2015 by  
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My wife and I recently visited the home of the famous painter Rembrandt, here in Amsterdam. Rembrandt was quite an astute businessman as well as a gifted artist. Unfortunately he wasn’t home when we stopped by—ha ha–but his beautiful artwork was everywhere and it was pretty darn impressive, I must say.

I also had a very short but interesting conversation with a friendly guard at the Rembrandt home.  It all started with a favorite comment of mine that I made as we parted ways. It really seemed to get to him but in a good way.  I said “Have a nice life!” And he enthusiastically said “Wow. Thanks a lot. I think I will plan on doing just that”.  That started the short conversation. But my next comment seemed to really hit a nerve, again, in a good way as he went on to say he’d never thought of the life of human beings in the way I said it.

What I said was simply that I think that all of us humans, even though we are from different countries, cultures, religions and speak different languages, we are all so very much the same. We all share at least one thing in common that should bring us even closer together as humans, especially in today’s world with the killing of so many innocent people in the name of “belief” or different world views.  He wanted to know what that ‘one thing’ was that we all share no matter who we are, what we believe or where we live.

What I said was, “No matter who you are, whether you are rich or poor, educated or not, as powerful as king or a president or as helpless as a new born child, we all are going to die.”  I know that is obvious but it’s something we should think about more often when we are feeling high and mighty or are judging other people and what they are doing with their lives.  The fact is that not one person out of the 7 billion people on the earth right now will be here in another 120 years or so. We all are in the same boat so why not make that the best possible boat in the universe and treat others as our brothers and sisters with great love and respect?

As we walked away from this very kind and interesting Dutch man, I think both he and I thought, “I think I have a new friend”.

 

Immoveable Deadlines

January 2, 2015 by  
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While I was preparing for a trip to Kauai a few days ago, I was suddenly hit by a pretty powerful thought.  The thought came as a result of my packing and getting hundreds of things organized before I was to leave.  I noticed how really organized and efficient I was becoming–making lists of items I needed to take, the things I must do before I left, and the people that I needed to meet with or email or call.  I will be gone for months so I knew all these things needed to be done, without question, and there was definitely a dead line on all of it–my flight out.  This kind of deadline pushed me to become an almost perfect picture of efficiency and effectiveness.

In the midst of my packing, I stopped for a few moments and observed what I was doing, how I was I was plowing through dozen of tasks so quickly and quite smoothly. Of course the motivation was obvious. I had a very fixed and non-movable deadline that I couldn’t easily be changed without a huge expense and hassle. But the thing that struck me was that this packing was a goal with a deadline I was not willing to miss.

Especially now at the beginning of a new year, as I am setting goals for myself, I realize how important this is–goals need to be set with time deadlines we are not willing to miss. Deadlines, ones we adhere to, are a huge key to pushing ourselves to be more effective, more efficient and ultimately more successful!

Think about that a moment.  Look at your own habits and behavior when you know you have a flight or other seemingly immovable deadline to meet. Don’t you get done what needs to be done? The great lessons here are:

  1. We all need to recognize how very beneficial it is to have deadlines attached to our goals.
  2. We must become tougher on ourselves by setting goals with absolute time deadlines attached to them.

Never forget that you and I only live, on average, about 700,000 hours, so it’s critically important to use our time wisely. If you want to accomplish a lot in your life and do big things for yourself, your family, your friends, and for mankind, you need to be efficient and well-motivated.

So with your next goals, pretend that your deadline is like a flight you have booked to Paris or Hawaii and if you miss it or have to postpone the flight it will cost you many thousands of dollars.  Depending on what your goals are, missing a time deadline may actually be more costly than a few thousand dollars. In the long run, a missed goal could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars or even worse if you have a huge loss of confidence or damage your self-esteem.  Bottom line here is, make time deadlines your biggest friend, helper and partner by seeing them as the important, unnegotiable deadlines they really are.

 

The Rug Merchant of Tangiers

December 12, 2014 by  
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Today I’d like to add a footnote to last week’s blog on the theme of negotiation.  Many years ago I took a group of investors to Tangiers in Northern Africa, both for fun and for a seminar I was to put on for them. And what a seminar it was! The best part, however, was a lesson that was learned from a rug merchant in Tangier’s.

While on this trip we all took a tour. The talkative guides took us through the narrow, winding back streets, through the open markets with their pungent odors and all kinds of interesting and colorful people.  Then, after half an hour’s stop at the Kasbah, we finally ended up at a rug merchant’s large second-floor shop.

Even though I was paying for this tour, no one had bothered to tell me where we’d end up. It was there in the next hour or so that the big lesson was learned by all of us, a lesson in the art of negotiating.  We were all hot and tired but sitting comfortably on mounds of beautiful Oriental rugs. Our gracious host began telling the group about the uniqueness of his rugs then his troupe of articulate salespeople went on to sell their captive audience on the quality of the rugs.

Interestingly enough, they also explained the custom of haggling over price.  They would be offended if we were to accept their first price without some sporty bargaining. Priming the crowed into a jovial joking mood, the merchant asked someone to make an offer on a rug he said was for sale at $4500 dollars. One of the guys in my group offered $500 dollars. After a lot of back and forth the rug was sold for $1200 dollars. The buyer had been assured that its value was over $2000 dollars. I found out later that the buyer had it appraised in the USA for a mere $600 dollars.  Oops! There was lesson learned there for certain, a lesson that happens to be about one of the oldest tricks in the old negotiating handbook. That is, you start with a very high price to give the illusion of a bargain when the price is dramatically cut.

I’ve used this method many times on both the buyer’s side and when selling a property and you probably have too. You can read more about the rug merchant and related negotiation techniques in my book How to Wake Up the Financial Genius Inside You.

 

 

Money Can Buy Novelty

November 14, 2014 by  
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It’s too bad that much of the time money, especially having a ton of it, gets a bad rap. The negative view of money probably started a very long time ago, maybe even before the Christian bible made the comment that “the love of money is the root of all evil.” I do believe that tons of money can ruin some people’s lives, especially if they come into that money overnight and not by their own hard work over many years. But let me talk about one super wonderful thing that money can do for you, especially if you are wise enough to do the right things with that money.

It seems that way too many people think that the best thing to do with lots of money is to go out and buy a lot of stuff, especially fancy and high status goods. But that stuff can quickly become worn out and/or very boring. Consider the following as an alternative and one that can, and will, jump start and excite your brain as well as lasting a very long time.

This is all about giving your brain a huge dopamine boost through experiencing new and novel things. You see, the human brain craves novelty, and money makes it so much easier to give yourself novel experiences. Gregory Berns in his book Satisfaction says, “Novel experiences are the surest route to satisfaction.”

As I write these words my wife and I are on a flight to the French Rivera. Just minutes ago we had lift off and as we did, believe me my brain got a big dose of dopamine and that’s just the beginning. We’ll be staying in Cannes at the Carlton Intercontinental Hotel and then later in another 5 star hotel in Nice. Then we’ll drive to the Italian town of San Remo to meet an old Swiss friend, Reto Moro, who I met 30 years ago on a tennis court in the south of Germany. We are visiting places, some of which are totally new to me or, in other words, ‘novel’.

Castles, old churches, new restaurants and all that I will see will pump my brain with dopamine. As you probably know dopamine is the natural brain chemical that makes you feel so very satisfied. I just love it. For years I didn’t have a clue about this thing called dopamine that was making me feel so good, but I certainly knew that I got a huge charge and brain boost by my visits to new places, so much so I came up with my bucket list of trying to visit every country in the world. I currently have hit 84 countries and my wife tells me that since I am now 70 years old I better pick up the pace—there are, at present, 196 countries in the world!

I guess I could have spent my money on fancy new cars and other expensive stuff but I’m pretty sure the novelty of a new car wouldn’t last very long. Traveling to new places has given me great memories that will last for many, many years, especially since I can easily re-stimulate my brain chemicals with so many pictures and videos!

The bottom line is, it’s true that money can’t necessarily buy happiness, but it can open up so many possibilities and make it easier to obtain more novel experiences. It gives one more time to carefully and creatively design, plan and carry out a wide range of novel experiences. So now I hope I have given you another good reason to push yourself to earn, save and invest your earnings.

 

Don’t Take Planning for Granted

September 28, 2012 by  
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I talk a lot about goal setting and planning for your dreams, especially the aspect of making a plan and sticking to it. But have you ever considered what it might be like to not even have the option to make plans?

In Serbia where we recently traveled, they are so thankful that the war that tore up that country from 1992 to 1995 is over. There is still plenty of evidence of those hard years but what a great country it is to visit now. It’s very safe and friendly as well as being an inexpensive country to enjoy and explore. But the really amazing thing is the people and their appreciation for things that, at one time, they weren’t sure they could have, would not even dream about because their future was so uncertain.

These days the people of Serbia are finally feeling settled and are able to make long term plans to create businesses, start or grow families, go to school, or build a home. There are still struggles but they have at least had the ability to dream restored to them.

We take that kind of long term planning for granted because it is not only possible but pretty easy for us to plan for whatever we might want. We certainly have fewer hurdles than most of those people in Serbia. If we only take the time to plan and then act on those plans, imagine what can be accomplished in a country that encourages and supports your dreams? We should, at least, be so very grateful for that extra benefit in our lives.

 

**If you like what you’ve read in this blog please send it on to people you know and love, to people who you think this message and information may be very helpful. There is nothing in the world that brings greater satisfaction than helping other people. Don’t you agree?

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