Everyone wants to become more than what they are. They look to leaders for the qualities they desire in their own lives. Although no two managers possess exactly the same personality or management style, effective managers share unique qualities that allow them to produce beneficial results for themselves and their people. Consider how the development of the following success qualities brings out the best in yourself and others.


Managing With Goals – Based on the Company vision, effective managers clearly define their goals in writing and visualize them vividly. They review them continually, communicate them clearly and strive to achieve them intensely with a purpose.


Motivating Themselves – Effective managers are self-motivated leaders who perceive possibilities, see work that needs to be done, get started and follow through. They obtain feedback from others and then act but believe in themselves while trusting their decision making skills.


Taking Risks – Effective managers face challenges and take immediate action to resolve them. They understand that one who never risks, never achieves. They devise creative ways for reaching their goals to overcome problems with confidence and determination.


Organizing Their Time – Effective managers establish clear priorities to use their time and the time of their people wisely. They consciously schedule time and delegate tasks to carefully selected team members. They help others successfully complete tasks delegated to them.


Believing In Others – Effective managers believe all team members are capable, creative and intelligent. They utilize their talents and skills while expecting top quality work but are careful to treat people courteously as well as fairly with tact and respect.


Understanding Others – Effective managers achieve results through the activities of other people. They take into consideration the unique personality of each individual and utilize the appropriate leadership style to each situation. Understanding people saves time, prevents problems and increases productivity for all.


Encouraging Others – Effective managers encourage their people to succeed. They help team members develop self confidence and promote a positive attitude. They offer praise for jobs that are done well and give their people credit for individual successes as well as for their contributions to the overall success of the organization.


Developing these positive qualities brings out the best in yourself and in others !


JASB – your resource for developing people & organizations!JASB Management



Employee Engagement and Empowerment                                                                                                                                                                                      by Jerry S. Siegel


Often organizations that require change and the development of new procedures, processes, strategies, structures and systems suffer from a lack of motivated and fully-engaged, empowered employees. Statistics continually show that almost 3/4 of all workers are not genuinely committed to the organization they work for. This emanates from the top of the organization. Executives and senior management must learn how to release power, resources and responsibilities to better motivate their employees. The reward for doing so is an engaged employee base where staff members are committed to achieving both individual and organizational goals, performing at their personal best levels, and driven to contribute to the organization’s overall success.


Empowered employees – individuals who feel confident to make decisions and take action – mirror good leaders. Having empowered people at all levels of the organization is the route to improving organizational results. This has been proven through many studies which have found that organizations with empowered employees have higher customer satisfaction, tend to be the industry innovators and market share leaders while experiencing much lower turnover because people enjoy their jobs. Everyone wants to be valued and appreciated.. In fact a sincere thank you from the leader is usually worth more than a few extra dollars. Among the most effective ways to empower employees are to ask for their ideas and suggestions, place them in self-directed work teams to encourage contributions from each team member, delegate specific responsibilities to each individual, cross-train staff to promote knowledge sharing and new skill building, and finally, survey your employees regularly enabling them to voice their opinions and offer suggestions for new processes or procedures. One of the best ways for empowering people is delegation. In addition, it helps the leader have time to focus on higher payoff activities.          Unfortunately leaders don’t delegate for many reasons. Among these are the lack of trust in their team. perfectionism and the need for control. However delegation is a win/win because most everyone wants to grow and become more valuable. The more they can contribute to the success of the organization, the better they feel about themselves. Instead of a chore, empowered employees see challenges.       Help yourself, your customers and your people. Engage and empower them to take ownership and feel they are part of the team. In addition to increasing productivity, your organization will be providing better service to your clients or customers.



JASB – your resource for developing people & organizations!


4 Mindset Changes Successful People Adopt For Unprecedented Success


Ignorance is Bliss … for Your Sales Guy

Before my children understood what a lollipop was, it was very easy to swap it out with an apple slice. I was looking after their best interests, after all. But what if I wasn’t a concerned mother? What if I were a manipulative saleswoman needing to hit a certain commission level on apples that month to stay employed; or worse, to win a crystal paperweight and bragging rights among my very competitive colleagues?

My example may seem strange, but if we apply this to personal finance, and not apples, the sad truth is this is how the brokerage world operates; and it may as well be rotten apples they are selling.

Perpetuating confusion is easy when you have created your own terminology. Most adults feel very childlike in the presence of polished and seasoned salespersons who throw around terms that are never explained. It is not uncommon for investors to sign on the dotted line, heads bobbing while thinking, “How embarrassing! I feel so stupid.  How do I not understand this?”

The answer: You’re not supposed to.

Early in my career, I managed to get a full-time gig writing at an investment firm when I understood very little about that world. The one thing I did know is I didn’t speak the language. And, language is everything, if you expect to understand the world you’re in.

It wasn’t until I felt confident in the land of “financial speak” that I asked the head of Marketing why we couldn’t just write these brochures using plain English. His reply explained exactly why the terminology was intentionally so foreign: There is money in confusion.

“I don’t know anything about cars,” he said. “And, when I see an ad talking about torque and turbo charge, I know I need to speak with a professional who can explain this to me. We want the investor to realize he can’t do this on his own so that he goes to his broker.” Good for the company. Good for the broker. But, good for the investor? Not so much.

Let’s see. If you didn’t know that a Class A share mutual fund carries a sales charge that can reduce your initial investment by as much as 8.5% before it even buys one share, you have a problem.

If you didn’t realize that a Class B share will deduct a sales charge if you sell shares before a set period of time, you have a problem.

If you didn’t realize that Class C and Class D shares will carry high annual fees (because they are not charging an up-front sales charge, like the Class A share; or a back-end/deferred sales charge, like the Class B share), you have a problem.

And, if you didn’t realize that all funds can carry a myriad of fees (sales loads, redemption fees, exchange fees, account fees, purchase fees, management fees, distribution/service (12b-1) fees, “other expenses” – and that there are options with no sales charges and low management fees – you are easy to fleece.

A great source of information on fees is the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission website.

According to the S.E.C., “Fees and expenses are an important consideration in selecting a mutual fund because these charges lower your returns. Many investors find it helpful to compare the fees and expenses of different mutual funds before they invest.”

FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority finds this topic important enough that they have a Fund Analyzer on its site so that investors can compare the costs of funds, which is very helpful.

Clearly, these agencies are aware that investors are typically ignorant and are not fluent in the language of sales charges and fees.  I knew this already from the many investors my husband and I meet with at our fee-only fiduciary Registered Investment Advisory Firm, ATI Investment Consulting, Inc.

“Nothing. I don’t think I pay anything.” We are often told this before we review the prospective investors’ existing portfolios. Clearly, if they really believed that everything was copacetic; they wouldn’t be looking to change advisors, would they?

Without too much effort, we can scan a statement and give a pretty good idea just how much they are paying; I can assure you, it isn’t “nothing”. In fact, it’s usually egregious – like 3% a year, not counting the sales charges.

Ironically, the do-it yourself investors who realize that their portfolios are in need of more professional management have come to us having inflicted little damage to themselves. In being suspicious of the brokerage industry, they did themselves a favor and opted to invest directly in no-load, low-cost mutual funds, and didn’t blow themselves up. Of course, these fund families tend to adopt a user-friendly, “plain English” philosophy because they do not have sales people to convince an investor to buy shares. These investors may not have sophisticated portfolios that balance the risks they are taking with their time frame, goals and returns; but the most important base is covered. They are not being bamboozled.

Not speaking the language is as good as wearing a “Kick Me” sign. Make sure that you work with someone who wants to explain everything to you before you invest and avoids confusing you or distracting you with jargon. Then you will know that you have chosen the apple slice because it was good for you, not because someone was paid to trick you.


Survival of the Fittest

As hard as we try to control our environment, the reality is that things are always changing; things that are beyond our control.  Adaptability becomes the great separator between surviving well, getting by, and being destroyed.  How we choose to move forward, and how well we anticipate and adjust to circumstances makes all the difference to the outcome.  Those things we do control.  Survival mode isn’t a bad thing; it actually forces us to be more creative and look at our challenges with urgency (and perhaps, a fresh eye).  Consider examining your worries and see what creative solutions you can come up with.  Be an active participant in your life, and don’t wait for the ceiling to come crashing in before acting.  Anticipate well and make your move before you need to, in order to strengthen your chances for success.  Here are some actions you can take now:

Increase Job Security.  One of the greatest fears in an uncertain job market is being laid-off.  In addition, there are jobs that are being exported overseas.  Worrying and complaining about this won’t change the situation.  Take this time to formulate a Plan B, and be wise to the writing on the wall.  If your job (or your spouse’s job) is always dangling by a thread, it’s time to look at the skills acquired and the contacts made.  Can this experience translate to another industry?  For example, an unemployed teacher might pursue a career as a corporate trainer, which requires the ability to communicate and instruct.

Consider freelance or consulting opportunities available (provided your employer doesn’t forbid this).  Would an investment in more education or training improve your job prospects?  Is there a side business that can be started with little or no capital (ideally, that would allow you to keep your full-time job)?  Maybe you have been itching for a change and want to explore a passion. Or, maybe you see a need that isn’t being filled in the market right now.  Again, use the experience and skills you already have to turn this into something profitable.  Brain storm, and write down everything you can think of, no matter how far-fetched it may seem.  You may end up with a clear idea of where you should be personally and professionally.

Tap Resources.  Local colleges and universities and libraries have education and job placement counseling. There are small business development centers that offer free mentoring to start-ups, including assistance with fleshing out your idea, developing a business plan, marketing and management issues. Career Zone and Job Zone can help you match your talents with prospective careers.  There are resources for retired/mature workers looking to transition back into the workforce. Women and veterans have agencies dedicated to working with their needs.  The Small Business Administration, SCORE, and the US General Services Administration are some websites to explore.

Work Hard.  This sounds obvious, I know.  But, how we invest our time has a lot to do with our success.  Two hours of television watching could be better spent planning a new business, or going to school to get additional training.  Of course we all need to unwind and recharge, but find the time to invest in getting “fit” for the challenges that may lie ahead.

Budget Wisely.  A budget is only as good as the information you put in it.  That is why you have to keep track of everything that you spend and everything that you make.  Only by tracking every little expense can you see where the “fat” is.  Saving/investing must be a line item in your budget.  Make room for it by cutting unnecessary expenses.  Every month, you should aim to put away at least 10% of your income (more, if you can).  If you are contributing to a retirement plan at work, this money would count toward the 10%.

Refinance.  With fixed mortgage rates still at historical low levels, you can immediately improve your cash flow by refinancing.  The key here is to pocket the difference, not spend it.  This money should be used to fully fund your retirement, or to build up the emergency fund.  If you are branching out into a business, some of these funds can be used in that manner.  This money should strengthen you, and not be used to buy more stuff.

Pay Down Credit Card Debt.  Get healthy and shed as much of this debt as you can.  You should aim to pay off more than just the minimum and look to consolidate the debt to one lower rate card.  Talk to your card company and try to negotiate a better rate.  If you still have high rate cards, be sure to pay them off first.  Of course, stop using credit cards for any new purchases.

Delay.  Again, if you are nervous about job security, or debt is creeping up on you, put off purchasing anything you don’t really need.   Don’t eat out, don’t go on a vacation, don’t buy a new car, don’t indulge in anything that you would consider something you want (a manicure) versus a need (an annual check-up).

Difficult times provide a chance to examine your life and to truly grow and benefit from the experience.  Preparing for survival mode will strengthen you and, more important, give you confidence when you do rise to the occasion.  Suddenly you will see possibilities that otherwise you might have never considered.  Growing pains aren’t easy to bear, but they are necessary for survival.

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The "Stuff" They Did't Teach You About Finding A Fulfilling Career

One of my favorite postings involves a picture of Albert Einstein with the caption “I didnt say half the stuff people said I did.” Whether he said it or not someone wisely observed that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results.

I’ve spent close to 40 years hiring people and unfortunately on more that one occasion having to fire people. Most of those people weren’t fired because they’d broken any rules, laws or policies. Most of them were terminated because they weren’t a good “fit” for the job to begin with. They only interest the job had was a wage and the wise sages and gurus of this world tell us money is a motivator for us for a maximum of 24 months. After that we cant get any deep spiritual meaning out of stocking shelves at 3:00 AM in the Big Box discount stores.

Oh, we follow the conventional wisdom on “how to find and attain meaningful employment.” The only really meaningful employment is the the employment that’s meaningful to you.

It seems like everyone around you is coming up with these uber jobs that create a real sense of fulfillment  and permanence and you are left scratching your head and posting resumes everywhere in heaven and earth hoping against hope that someone calls you.

And they don’t (I know, i know I began a sentence with a preposition.)

The reason? You don’t know what they know and they are not about to teach you.

Because you have chosen to be part of the amazing Time to Play community and because you want balance success and happiness in your life it means you believe you deserve success in your life, I am going to share 40 years of sitting on the “other side of the table.”  I’m going to share some tips and techniques that will help you get an edge.

Here is the good news: I’m not going to ramble on and on. I’m going to share a series of videos with you that I’ve recorded on YouTube about creating effective resumes, personal branding and preparing killer, knock em’ dead interviewing skills.

They are not the stuff we teach you, they are simply the stuff we use to choose people for those fulfilling and meaningful jobs.

The first video is on creating a killer resume – One that will get you interviews. The link is below:

If you have any questions or in sites feel free to email me at jurkiewiczconsulting@outlook.com. I’ll be more than happy to set aside some time to share my thoughts with you.

I hope you find some value

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Self Imposed Limitations

follow your dreams

Follow your dreams

I’ve been saying for years now, “Learn what you need to know so you can enjoy life”, and although I’ve been a huge advocate for learning, I’ve also been struggling with this HUGE concept.

Throughout my journey developing the idea behind the Time to Play concept, truly believing that everyone deserves to enjoy life, I have encountered obstacles. I have met many people who I relied on and became incredibly disappointed in.  I “waited” for things to happen, for promises that didn’t materialize.  I became amazingly frustrated, and had given up numerous times.  Sound familiar?

“Can’t” even sometimes snuck itself in there…

I’m sure many of you have had similar experiences.

Thankfully, I have been provided with amazing friends and teachers like Rebecca L. Norrington.  She has slipped in words of wisdom and empowerment to me at some of my most critical moments.  She may not even realize the power behind what she gives.  One important thing I’ve learned from her is that no one can make you “feel” a certain way… only YOU can make you feel.  Implementing this mindset takes practice. Trust me.

So, here’s the scoop on today’s revelation that I would like to share.  Hopefully I won’t lose you as I try to explain it.  Please stay with me…

I would like to share something I have realized in order to keep myself on track, and I hope it can also help you to avoid discouragement.  I have realized that ideas and a change in our thinking, no matter how ideas and concepts are presented, or how many times you hear something, are not necessarily immediate. This goes for anything… including things like “tips” for healthy eating or “pointers” or ideas for happiness or for success.  Anyone can “tell” us stuff, but it’s up to us to “get it”.

Remember how hard it may have been for us to learn how to solve a math problem?  How we tried, maybe we even had gone for extra help?  And then you “got it”, and it was easier to complete the assignments?  Like that.   I believe this is how it is for many of us to adopt a new way.  It sometimes may take time, even years, for ideas and concepts to evolve in order for us to see things more clearly and to understand.  Research shows it takes 21 days to adopt a new habit.  I think that it takes a lot longer – it takes until we are ready to adopt a different way of thinking.

Today I have realized something that I’ve known all along, but a concept that I really “got” this morning – the idea behind self imposed limitations.  I have recognized that it takes years to unlearn what we have decided to believe about ourselves.  The lack of self confidence, that we don’t belong, the belief we cannot “be” or “do”, which result in our creation of frustration and unhappiness in our lives.  I wrote about these concepts in our book, “If I Knew Then What I Know Now”, (www.IfIKnewthenBook.com) writing in chapter 2 about my belief that we are “tortured souls” that live in self-imposed prisons (chapter 2).  There’s a sample read here, where you can read the beginning of this idea.

Today those concepts have become even clearer to me.  I challenge you to look around and see how many people accept life in that manner.

Today, with a belief that is even stronger than ever, I know each of us has amazing potential.  I also know that potential is just inside every one of us, waiting for the time when we are ready to use it.

How many of us believe we can’t do something?  That we can’t achieve success in an endeavor?  That we don’t deserve ”IT”? That we are destined to be sick, poor, or suffer hardships?  That we’re “unlucky”?

I have been thinking of these questions, as well, since the podcast John Jurkiewicz, another of our Time to Play team, and I did last Wednesday.  Part of the discussion was how many of us fight our success gene.  I believe that’s totally true. I believe part of our fighting is involuntary because we act as we were taught. (If you would like, you can listen to the podcast here.)

Today, even though I’ve heard it a million times, I had an “AHA” moment.  I know that we each have, within us, the power to achieve.  But we achieve what we believe.

And, I know that it takes a long time for us to unlearn what we believe and to see things differently.

Ask yourself what you prefer to believe — that the sky is the limit or that you are here to suffer through life?

Every day is a new and beautiful opportunity.

What is your dream?

Perhaps today is YOUR day to seize it… to start on your path of making your dreams happen.

Perhaps it’s your time to stop looking back and stop thinking “can’t”.

“Talk is cheap”, someone once said.  “Someday I’m going to… “ is another famous phrase.

Do it. Don’t give up. Keep your eye on your dream.

It’s time to enjoy YOUR life.  It’s time to play.

Love, Doreen

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Doreen Guma, MA, FACHE, CPC, CLC is a board certified healthcare executive working in healthcare for the past 28 years. She has seen the “sick and sad” and knows there has to be a better way.  She is also a certified professional life coach and the founder of Time to Play, a website dedicated to life enjoyment.  The Time to Play Foundation is a 501c3 not for profit corporation with the mission and purpose to enrich the lives of others through programs, public awareness outreach activities, events and learning opportunities that further the concept of ENJOYING LIFE!  Short version … inspiring EVERYONE to enjoy life.  Contact us at 631-331-2675 or email info@timetoplay.com | www.TimetoPlay.com

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Nobody Wins — BUT, We all CAN

take responsibility

take responsibility

When things happen in my own personal experience, it sets a fertile environment for me to start thinking.  I have a habit of analyzing everything, probably a result of working in the field of quality improvement for many years. I believe that everything has the potential to be better, and even if we think something is perfect, there are still opportunities for improvement.

Here’s a situation that I experienced last week.  I’ve been thinking about how to put my thoughts into words since then.

A few days ago I had the experience of going to court for the sentencing of a criminal case.  I had never been to the courts before, and I was truly saddened by the experience.  The whole courthouse scene was one of despair, from the line of people waiting to get through security, to the stressed out faces attending the many proceedings.

As you may know, I am part of the motorcycle community, recently appointed as a board member of a motorcycle safety, education and advocacy group.  I truly believe in the power of the people, and not only went to support an injured motorcyclist and his family, but to be a visible reminder of the need to protect motorcyclists from irresponsible motorists.

In this particular case there was a woman who critically injured a man riding his motorcycle to work.  She had been in and out of jail most of her adult life and an addict since she was 12 years old. In our book, “If I Knew Then What I Know Now” (www.IfIKnewThenBook.com), I discussed the adoption of self-destructive behavior to hide from pain in our lives.  There are many types of self-destructive behavior aside from alcohol or substance abuse, including eating disorders, over shopping, self-harm, or even “proving” you are good enough, the one I am most familiar with. Chapter 2 in our book is entitled “We Are All Tortured Souls”, where this was discussed a little more.

From the limited information provided at the sentencing, it was alluded to that she had started using drugs to hide her emotional pain from her father’s physical abuse.  Now, at 27 years old, having been out of jail 3 days prior to the accident, she chose to drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs.  In a matter of minutes she changed lives forever, causing irreversible pain and suffering to a lovely man who had been down the block from his destination at the time of the accident, as well as significant financial hardship to his family.  Further, she left the courthouse on her way back to jail, this time for a matter of years.

In this situation, and so many others in our lives, the choices we make create an end result where nobody wins.

Think about that.

How many situations do you hear about that cause people unnecessary pain or hardships?

Unfortunately, watching the news, we hear daily of people who makes the choice to lie, cheat or injure another in some manner by making a wrong choice.  Something I have learned is that we truly know right from wrong, perhaps even if this knowledge is deep down inside.  Perhaps we chose our behavior stemmed from anger or fear.  No matter what, when we make the wrong choice, we sometimes cannot take back the outcome resulting from the action we chose to complete.

I wrote in our book, “History will repeat itself if we let it” a number of times.  This sentiment can pertain to so many instances, unfortunately.  We continue to hear many world problems without having solutions to stop things — the same things — from occurring over and over.  Sometimes the outcomes result from choices that had stemmed from our irresponsibility in performing an act we know we should not be doing, and sometimes the outcomes result from greed.  There are so many things I can write here as examples…

But, instead of actions to rid our society from these social ills, we have new laws and legislation to protect people from a potential injury or hardship — even though there is a root cause for everything.

Apparently just creating new laws against “wrong doings” is not working.  We can look at legislation for illegal hand guns, texting / drunk driving, illegal drugs, and more… the stuff keeps happening.  We also continue to hear stories of people taking financial advantage of others, even politicians that do so.  Again, we all know right from wrong.

Perhaps it is time to take responsibility and make good choices.  Simple things like not drinking and driving or texting and driving.  Things that we hear about and just continue to do anyway, it seems.  Perhaps we need to consider the feelings of others and make better choices before there are irreversible ramifications of our actions.

Something else I had written about in the book was waiting for “them” to fix things that are problems.  Guess what — there is no “them”. There is “us”.

Change will result when WE start working together to make things change.  People Helping People.  Collaboration = Success.  It’s Time to Enjoy Life.

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Doreen Guma, MA, FACHE, CPC, CLC is the founder of the Time to Play Foundation, a 501c3 corporation inspiring everyone to enjoy life. Email her at doreen@timetoplay.com

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When You Look In the Mirror, What Do You See

People often ask what value I derive from being a career development coach. There is not enough money in the world to replace the look of joy that washes over someones face as they come to that moment in their lives when they discover their true calling. It’s when the transformation begins. They look in the mirror and ask “Who’s that? Ahhhhh, it’s me!!!” They clap their hands, and do a rough imitation of the happy dance. I’ve even seen a tear or two well up in their eyes. They have, as one person told me, “Come Home.”

We’ve all had that experience – that rush of adrenaline that first keeps us going and then helps us level off when we reach the inevitable valleys of doubt. We peer in the mirror and we gaze at that wonderful creature staring back at us so full of life, potential and creative ideas. The transformation is ongoing. Like a car driving around a racetrack, we take a checkered flag, hold it high and begin another lap in our journey toward creating a long and lasting life. Our careers, our lives and, yes, even our destinies are all held in three things: We deserve to be successful, we are worth all the effort we invest in ourselves and finally, we are who we hang around with. I see the transformation as I help people navigate their own mine fields when they grapple with and conquer the uncomfortable notion of their own success. That’s what I’d like to share with you…the cornerstone of leading a successful and balanced life.

  “If You Can See It, You Can Be It.”

I was asked to coach a group of managers to help develop their leadership skills. In one of the exercises, I asked them to create the perfect company. In the center of each table I placed an 18” x 24” sheet of poster board. On top of each was a box of colored pencils. I was more than a bit nervous about this exercise. The participants were operations managers who gauged success based on the thickness of the calluses on their hands and how much grease and oil were on their clothes. As one of them told me before class, “I hope this isn’t one of those touchy-feely classes!”

Having them sit in captivity for close to an hour and color…well my heart kept moving between my throat and my stomach. I couldn’t stay in the room.  When we returned from a short break I asked them to share their drawings. I had planned on devoting a  forty minutes to the exercise but I couldn’t get the group to stop talking. While there weren’t any artists in the room the colors were vivid, and they drew clear and definite pictures of how they could create success in their company. There were no “touchy-feely” suggestions. Each idea related directly to a business measurable and its positive outcome. A few months later I was asked to conduct the same leadership seminar for union leaders from this company. It amazed me how aligned the visions were between two groups of people who traditionally looked at each other as adversaries.

 Your success is defined by you and you alone. Quit Letting Other Peoples Thoughts, Values and Ideas Live In Your Head Rent Free

 A few weeks later I received a phone call from one of the managers who’d been in my class. He wanted to know if I would be his personal coach. “That vision drawing you did with us…I want to do that for myself.”

It’s one of the first exercises I assign a new client. “Don’t tell me,” I challenge them, “Show me!”  I ask them what success looks like. The minds job is to create — that is its sole function. Our minds process what our five senses experience, mix it all together and come up with an outcome we can live with based on past experiences. We all walk around with a vision of success.  Our palette of success has unique colors and flavorings that articulate who we are and what we were meant to do. Our notions and opinions about our success are personal and run deep.

There’s a story I heard once about twin brothers who woke up one Christmas morning to find a large pile of horse manure adjacent to the family tree.  The first brother slumped into a chair and cried. “This is all I get for Christmas, — horse manure?” He began to weep and moan. The second brother studied the pile of manure for a moment. Thoughtfully, he walked around it a few times, looking at it from top to bottom. He plunged in and started digging, flinging the manure everywhere. Startled, his parents asked what he was doing. He stopped, looked over his shoulder and cried out, “There has to be a pony under here somewhere!”

We rarely look at ourselves in terms of visions or pictures. When we do, we can lead our minds in the direction we want to travel. Close your eyes for a moment and think of a time in your life that has special meaning for you. You see the scenery, the smells, the colors and the feeling of triumph or peace and calm. All of these are pictures. You don’t see words in 24 point font scrolling across a dark background. You experience your success over and over as a vision.

In her song, A Morning Prayer, Susannah Clifford Blachly, sings, “May you find the gifts in your mistakes.”  Nate no longer saw his past failings; he began to see the opportunities they gave him. His inner eye opened, albeit a bit slowly, as it does for all of us but his vision started to clear. That’s when real progress happens.

 Nothing Happens Until the Pain of Remaining the Same Outweighs the Pain of Change

It begins when you state the intention, the moment you look into the mirror and admit your secret: You deserve success and happiness. You not only deserve it, you crave it, and just like with the cream-filled doughnut you denounce three or four times each week, no one but you is the wiser.

You don’t deserve success any more than the next person, but you don’t deserve it any less. No one does. Oh, I know, you can play the humility card if you’d like. You’ll receive your rewards in the next life for all your sacrifices and that is good enough for you. But why can’t you have both? The Philosopher Henry David Thoreau nailed it when he said “Most people lead lives of quiet desperation.”

Most of us spend a portion of our days with our noses pressed against the glass, watching the drama that is someone else’s life. We rationalize how we wouldn’t want their problems and issues anyway, and then swallow our daily dose of stress and go on our merry way. We just can’t “see” ourselves doing what they do. So we don’t.

We rarely view success as our impact on the portion of the universe we’ve been asked to tend. We’re always carrying around some imaginary yardstick that measures ourselves against all of creation, and when we come up short, we simply remind ourselves of some huge mistake we made that keeps us from living a successful life.

Successful people don’t feel at all uncomfortable with what they’ve accumulated in life. They feel they deserve it and won’t ever apologize for it. It’s the rest of us who spin a tale for falling short of our dreams and aspirations. Do you believe you deserve to be successful and happy?  If you don’t, why should anyone else?

You Have the Ability to Write Powerful New Scenarios for Yourself.

 You have been walking a path toward success since the moment you were born.  Do you believe in your ability to succeed? Do you deserve success? Is it your birthright? Can you muster the courage to look beyond the next hurdle and see yourself doing the things you have always seen yourself doing and dreamed of doing?

Based on your life experiences your mind continually creates scenarios for you to justify where you are at this exact point in time. Right now, as you read this, it may be encouraging you to read more, to experience more, to learn to embrace the universe. On the other hand, that nagging little voice deep inside of you may be saying “This is a bunch of…” or “That’s good for them but not for me.”  Who controls your mind? You do, of course. No matter what has come before you or what sort of gobbledygook your mind conjures for the future, at any given moment, you can literally stop the nonsense that lives inside you, rent- free. If your vision isn’t getting you where you want to go, maybe it’s time to change visions. The necessary tools are all in that precious space between your ears.

 “You Deserve To Be Successful.”

 What if we could capture that thought, and no matter what else we are told to the contrary, it stayed in our minds forever? Imagine it was not only our first thought, but also our last and every thought in between. That we lived our lives convinced we deserved success. Imagine how we would live if we knew no matter what twists and turns our lives took, we deserved success. Failures would become learning experiences, bad decisions would be foundations to build on and, to top it all off, we’d be grateful for what we now call” negative experiences.”  Success wouldn’t be reserved for the lovely, the educated and the lucky. It would be OUR BIRTHRIGHT.”

I am proud to have guided so many amazing people toward finding their paths in this world and celebrating along with them the sweet successes they can call their own. “If you can see it, then you can be it.”

How about you? Are you ready to see yourself as the amazing person the rest of us do?

John Jurkiewicz can be reached at Jurkiewiczconsulting.com or at his web site www.jurkiewiczconsulting.com


Politics, Investing and Propaganda

I used to look forward to voting when I was younger as I was certain of what I was doing. My lack of sophistication and naiveté made me see things in very simple terms and it was easier to choose between the “right” candidates and the “wrong” candidates. Now, I am jaded, and I realize that everyone has an agenda and some have better propaganda machines. An advertising budget can do wonders in painting either a shiny, albeit inaccurate picture; or a scathing and unfair one. Many investors fall prey to such manipulation, as well, as their “friendly financial consultant” portrays competence, polish and compassion – often times they are simply charismatic and not much else. I know this from experience. In a past life, I worked near these types; and, in my current life, I get to unravel the damage they have done at the hands of their once trusting (and now former) clients.

While not all brokers are incompetent or misleading, the truth is that their business model is. As long as they act as salespeople – fronting for product, and not for their advice, there is a conflict of interest. When a salesperson is paid by a third party (e.g., mutual fund company or insurance company) to recommend a product to their client, there is temptation to make the investor’s needs subordinate to the salesperson’s need of putting bread on the table. The only products a salesperson will likely recommend are ones that carry high sales charges, because a portion of these charges come back to the broker in the form of commissions (mutual funds that have letters, like A, B, C, etc. after their names carry these higher fees). If the fee is low, there is nothing to compensate the broker with. So even though the low-cost fund is a better choice, it will not be recommended to the investor. And, let’s face it, if an investor purchases something that basically tracks the S&P 500 returns, then the fund that deducts 0.15% of a fee will always beat its counterpart with 1.5% -3% fees. It’s an absolute, basic, numeric truth, plain and simple.
Often times the very established brokerage houses have their own mutual funds and insurance products that compensate their salesforce a little extra. Branch managers are enticed to rev up their sales team to make this a higher percentage of the office’s business. This is how bonuses are shaped – which is no small chunk of change. Again, I speak from experience here as I witnessed this firsthand. Branch managers who let their team sell what they want won’t do that for long when a big bonus is at stake. At best, its coercion; at worst, it’s blackmail. So even if a broker or a manager wants to “do the right thing” they are penalized. The only way to get around this is to break out and become independent – which can be daunting for those entrenched in this system.

Most investors have no idea that mutual fund and insurance companies pay money to have their investment products listed on the brokers’ “preferred list,” or included as a 403b option; everyday trusting investors operate under the false assumption that “preferred “means superior when it simply means deep pockets. Again, this model compromises the broker’s judgment. The investor is blissfully unaware often times, and thinks the broker is making the best possible recommendation, when there is another agenda in the fold. While the investor blindly thinks the broker “knows best” the truth is sales pitches are provided and practiced on how to sell the product and how to overcome investor objections. Again, I know this firsthand as I have witnessed sales training sessions; I have written the sales tips to help them sell; I have promoted the sales contests that give a sales rep a crystal paperweight for besting the sales of the other hungry brokers. I have done this all in a past life I feel compelled to redeem myself from. The truth is, I thought that’s how the business worked with no other options – I had no idea at the time of another (less popular, and less advertised) approach.

In the act of full and fair disclosure, I mention that my husband and I own a fee-only Registered Investment Advisory firm, ATI Investment Consulting, Inc. (that means we do not accept commissions, and our clients receive a straight-forward bill from us every quarter). This design was intentional – as we guided my Mother in the aftermath of my Father’s debilitating illness and found lots of hungry salespeople licking their chops at getting a piece. We weren’t even in business at the time; I was in my “past life” where I helped brokers hock products, actually. I didn’t want her to fall victim to this model. There was too much riding on this; namely my Father’s medical care and my Mother’s future financial stability. At the end of this project we realized that we could deliver this to the masses; that this service is truly needed; that we can remain true to investors’ goals; and, that we can save them from being someone else’s prey. It is not as profitable to conduct business this way, but it is good for everyone involved; first and foremost, our clients.

Not too long ago I was approached by an insurance agent who asked me how we handle clients with insurance needs. I mentioned that we advise clients on what type of insurance they need to get, and the amount. He asked me if I had considered getting my insurance license, which I hadn’t. He informed me that if I had that license and didn’t want to sell insurance I could refer all my clients to him, for which I would get a piece of the commission. He estimated he could make me an additional $50,000-$60,000 per year with this arrangement. I know he thought my emphatic “Not interested,” was a Pollyanna response – but we want no part of putting our personal interests ahead of our clients’ needs.
If you are wondering whose side your financial professional is on, go to your statements. The tell-tale signs are easy to spot:

  • Funds with A, B, C, etc. after their names carry higher fees which does not benefit you in any way.
  • Owning annuities in an IRA or other tax-deferred account, such as a 401k or 403b means that you have paid a high expense to have a tax-deferred product in an account that gives you tax-deferral at no charge (think, paying extra to have a belt, when you’re wearing suspenders).
  • Annuities, in general, are very expensive and rarely have I seen this benefit an investor. Occasionally a work-sponsored annuity is paying a very high guaranteed rate – but this is a rare exception.
  • The broker who works for XYZ Company has sold you mainly XYZ funds. Or, the college savings plan (529) you were sold has ties to XYZ in some way.

Investing is like the political campaign process – it’s hard to know what to believe, or what to argue against when you feel like no one is telling the whole story. Unless you are prepared to research and get to the bottom of the issues that are important to you, you will easily be swayed by whoever speaks with more authority on the subject than they may actually possess (your friends, your union, your colleagues, etc.). Until you truly examine the motivation of the person feeding you the information (pride; ego; or worse, profit), it is easy to swing in the breeze while others collect from manipulating you. Now that you have been warned, it is up to you to decide how you want this to end, and who wins your business. Choose wisely.