October 28, 2009

Wanna get away?

Sorry for my absence; I've been on vacation! It was a wonderful trip to Las Vegas with my wife and no kids. Did I mention it was wonderful? You can read her blog for details of the trip itself. Now when two adults say they're going on "vacation", "without kids", "alone", "in a hotel", "in Las Vegas", one might get an image of partying like a rock star, and...well...you know...but let's take a look at how the 30-something, parents of 3 define a vacation...

Vacation is both a noun and a verb. It is defined as
: a respite or a time of respite from something
2 a : a scheduled period during which activity is suspended
b : a period of exemption from work granted to an employee
3 : a period spent away from home or business in travel or recreation
4 : an act or an instance of vacating

I'm particularly fond of the first definition which includes respite.

Respite is also both a noun and a verb. It is defined as
1 : a period of temporary delay
2 : an interval of rest or relief

I'm particularly fond of the second definition which includes rest.

Rest is also both a noun and a verb. It is defined as
1 : repose, sleep; specifically : a bodily state characterized by minimal functional and metabolic activities
2 a : freedom from activity or labor
b : a state of motionlessness or inactivity c : the repose of death
3 : a place for resting or lodging
4 : peace of mind or spirit
5 a (1) : a rhythmic silence in music (2) : a character representing such a silence
: a brief pause in reading
6 : something used for support

I'm particularly fond of the first definition which includes sleep.

Sleep is also both a noun and a verb. It is defined as
1 : the natural periodic suspension of consciousness during which the powers of the body are restored
2 : a state resembling sleep: as a : a state of torpid inactivity b : death c : the closing of leaves or petals especially at night d : a state marked by a diminution of feeling followed by tingling e : the state of an animal during hibernation
3 a : a period spent sleeping b : night c : a day's journey
4 : crusty matter present in the corner of an eye upon awakening

I'm particularly fond of the first definition...

So if you ask me "How was your vacation?, did you party like a rock star?" I will simply respond, "you bet...every night seemed to end up in a suspension of consciousness during which the powers of my body were completely restored....if you know what I mean!"

I ADVISE U to take a "vacation". Find some respite. Get some rest. You need your sleep! I haven't felt this refreshed in a very long time!

October 8, 2009

In Your Voice

I don't subscribe to a newspaper. Instead I choose to read it for free online. The Star Press is the local newspaper in Muncie, and at the bottom of every article is "In Your Voice". An opportunity for readers like me to comment on the above story.

Now I suppose some of you utilize this area to voice your opinions or thoughts on the article, and after all that is your First Amendment right to do so. But I for one, despise this forum.

Let's take a look at a few examples.

In today's paper a 27 year old was sentenced to 24 years in prison for having sex with a teenager. The man is engaged and has a child. The classy headline reads. "Sex Criminal: 'I am not that monster'". Now is this newsworthy and relevant, I'd say yes. The public needs to know the system is working. Will we all form opinions from reading this? Absolutely! Should those thoughts and opinions be shared with others? Well...you'll have to answer that one for yourself, but personally I might share my thoughts with my closest friends if it were necessary, but don't worry about finding me standing on a street corner with a bullhorn proclaiming, "CASTRATE HIM!"

Yet 26 individuals chose to comment on this article.
The first comment says "shame on the fiancee for seeing nothing wrong with what he did" (because they're perfect)
The next proclaims "HE IS A MONSTER!" (what a brave soul)
Next someone questions the facts of the case (yeah because they were there)
A series of posts blames the mother (she clearly forced her son to have sex with a teen)
Another mother then posts that if this man ever knocked on her door for her daughter that the next day the headline would read "Mother kills Man!" (Nice!)
The remaining 20 posts range from problems with the system to justification for the crime; from let's hold a public execution to somehow this is the Democrats fault! WHAT?

OK, so I admit this was a high profile case in town, I even knew someone on the jury, so I can understand some strong feelings come to the surface, especially being a father, but let's go to a slightly less serious issue...

"Muncie Streets to get Sweet Salt this Winter"

This article garnered 17 posted comments in the same amount of time.
Naturally, half of them were apparently meteorologists because I read everything from the farmer's almanac to global warming to someone who has a dog that "acts funny" during storms. And then of course there were the expected city budget concerns and...you guessed it...Democrats!!

So what did I learn from reading the comments today, everything from sex with teens to snowfall is the fault of the democrats. Seriously? I refuse to waste another minute on these forums. I appreciate the news, when it is news, and when they report the facts. But I'd prefer to create my own opinions and in most cases keep them to myself. I certainly don't need to hear what everyone else thinks, and I will NEVER have the need to share my thoughts in such a cowardly way. If you're not willing to shout it from the rooftops then don't put it in a public forum. And do your mind a favor, stop reading this filth.

I ADVISE U to never post a comment in these forums, and furthermore I ADVISE U to stop reading them!!

October 1, 2009

Rules of the Road

At the office we have a wall hanging that conveys the "Rules of the Road" for investing. The three that stand out the most and are often referred to as the backbone of our investment philosophy are: Buy Quality, Hold for the Long Term, and Diversify. In simpler terms, buying and holding quality investments from multiple sectors is often a more successful investment strategy than buying and selling speculative investments frequently.

It occurred to me today that the Rules of the Road apply to our friendships as well. I spent the day out of the office with a few other advisors (something I try to do at least once a month). During an extended part of our time together in the car. I began reflecting on my relationship with each of them. I always knew they were quality individuals; Stand-up Christian men, with great families, and successful careers. They each have different qualities that I admire, and yet they've each disappointed me a time or two in our friendships. I've only known them for 8 years, but consider them more than colleagues, they're very good friends, and our common denominators are our business and our faith.

Tonight I shared drinks with a larger group of people I work with on summer marching band staff. (again, something we do once a month). This group of friends is completely different than the group I spent the afternoon with, yet they serve a very important role in my relationship puzzle. I've known one person in the group for over 15 years, and others for less than 3. I believe most in this group to be quality and they certainly are all very different, yet we've all shared disappointments with each other many times. Our common denominators are music, competition, and reminiscing on the good old days.

Friday night I plan to meet up with another group of guys that I like to play cards with. We also started fantasy football league this year, and interestingly enough, many of us are in Sunday School together. I've only known these guys well for 3 years or less, and most of them I met through my wife knowing their wife. I believe them to all be quality individuals, and they are about as diverse a group as I can see myself in. As a group we have yet to have any fallout with one another, but the group also lacks any deep bonding. Our common denominators are being husbands, fathers, and enjoying an occasional night to "just be one of the guys".

I can't say that I really have a best friend. But I can say I have built a very well diversified portfolio of friends. I have a large number of trusted individuals that I can choose from when I have a need to discuss. There are some I can call for relationship advice, and others I can call for financial advice (yes even financial advisors bounce ideas off one another), and yet others I can call if I just want to grab a bite and brag about how great my kids are! Like a typical investment portfolio, some of these friends may disappoint from time to time, and some may outperform others, but that's no reason to trade them in for new ones.

Your friends became your friends for a reason. Are you the best performing friend in your friend's portfolio? Or are you not meeting expectations. Our friends need us as much as we need them.

I ADVISE U to have a diversified group of quality friends for the long term!

September 30, 2009

Inspire Me to Inspire U!

Here we go with my first serious post...hold on tight!

Last weekend my wife Molly attended a reunion of scholars at Ball State. It was an impressive group of extremely smart people that had earned full tuition scholarships. I was so proud to realize what an elite group Molly was a part of. During the afternoon session, local businessman, Wil Davis was the keynote speaker. A portion of his commentary focused on effective leadership, and he challenged everyone in the room to "inspire someone today, inspire someone everyday". These words have stuck with me this week, and with each face to face encounter I've had since, I've attempted to do just that. But I seemingly fail to inspire only to possibly motivate.

I've never thought of myself as inspirational, but believe that I can be motivational to others. I motivated my wife to work an unheard of amount of hours this month so that we could use those earnings for a vacation, and she did it! I motivated my clients to make good investment choices, even when they were scared to do so. And hopefully I motivate my children to also make good choices, but that's probably a given, since I'm presumably still their hero.

So if motivating comes easy, why is it so hard to inspire? Think about those that inspire you, and why? I came up with a pretty short list and here it is...
1) My wife. Molly inspires me to be a better parent every day. I am in awe daily of her patience and stamina. We both love our children with all of our being, but how she battles through their yelling, screaming, tattling, battles, tears, schedules, feedings, diapers, illness, and so on is truly the work of someone God created to be a mother. She would say that she falls short of this accolade, yet I know there is no greater role model for my children.
2) My parents. They each inspire me in different ways.
a) My father is the most unselfish man I know. I've never once taken this for granted, but I always know who I can call if I need something. And I know the answer will always be yes. For years he has fixed every broken thing in my life from holding me with a broken heart to driving 400 miles to fix my broken car. I could blog a lifetime of stories about him. Everyone of which would include an act of kindness without a single resenting comment or hesitation to help anyone. My father inspires me to give of my time freely and willingly; to help others in need no matter how inconvenient it may be or how tired I think I am.
b) My mother has a similar quality, but it goes a step further. My mother never went to college, and never was the bread winner in our family, yet she was and still is the savviest consumer I know. She can stretch a penny twice as far as most can stretch a dollar. As I look back at what my parents earned while I was growing up, I'm amazed that I never found myself longing for more, or thinking we were poor. My parents made my sister and I feel very rich as if there was nothing more we could ever want. I realize now that this was in large part due to how well my mother managed our finances, and the tireless hours my father worked day and night. My mother inspires me to do both of these things. I want to work hard and manage my finances better so that my children can grow up thinking that they have all they could ever want without realizing the sacrifice I make for them.
3.) My children. My children have been quite ill these last two weeks. And I've had at least one occasion to just sit and hold each of them in their weakened state. Their innocence and vulnerability inspire me to be more child-like. I live such a guarded life, and with the restraints that I put on myself, I often feel the way that they look. Miserable. As the medicine kicked in and LIFE began to refill their bodies, they were unstoppable in their ways. With each time they ask to go outside and run and jump and play, I'm inspired to simplify my lifestyle to match theirs.

So what have I concluded. Sorry Mr. Davis. You can't inspire someone TODAY, you can only motivate someone TODAY. In order to inspire someone, you must LIVE your LIFE in a way that is as fulfilling to others as it is to yourself. I'm inspired only by those that inspire me. Not through their words, but through their actions, and certainly not just today, but EVERYDAY.

I ADVISE U to live an inspirational life!

September 28, 2009

My first bit of advice...

Welcome to I advise U!

Since I get paid everyday to give financial advice, I thought I'd give back a little by providing some free advice. You will be able to follow current events in my life, and learn from my mistakes. Now don't expect new advice everyday, but from time to time, I'll be providing valuable information that will help you live a more fulfilling and mistake-free life.

So here's my first bit of advice...I ADVISE U TO BOOKMARK MY BLOG!!