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All in All It’s Just Another Bend in the Road

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Hello Friends,

As many of you have heard, the board of directors at my company has decided to close our office in Omaha.  Despite making substantial improvements in service and personnel, the mending of some past relationships and a 60% cut in office losses in the past year without resorting to layoffs, the Board threw in the tower on the office.  As a business owner I can't blame them.  If one of the offices I was responsible for had lost money in each of the previous 10 years, I would have lost patience too.  I appreciate the opportunity that these folks in Omaha gave me and I harbor no ill will to them.

I, again, am put into a position that I must practice what I preach–to validate what I believe the most–that success comes to you the more you help others.  I will attempt to use this forum to discuss what I am doing on a daily basis as I conduct my search.  I hope it impresses upon my readers how important it is to believe in yourself and in your actions.  It's also there to motivate me to keep moving.  I have learned through personal experience that it is in idleness that self-doubt and despair lie.  I intend to not be a victim of it again.

This is the 3rd time I have been a victim of a layoff.  The first 2 times, I only had to worry about myself.  This case is all together different.  As manager of an office that is closing, I feel an obligation to the members of my team-about half of which I brought on in the first place. 

In the past several days, I have worked hard to find "lifeboats" for the great people who made up my staff.  Several of them have already had interviews with my former competitors.  I would consider it an accomplishment if my employees have all found opportunities elsewhere by the close of business of my last day–tomorrow.

To assist the members of my team, I crafted the following email: (Note contact information was removed)

Hello _____

It is with deep regret that I must inform you that the Board of Directors of GSI has decided to close the doors to our Omaha location.  Though in the past year we had made significant headway in improving profitability, mending relationships, improving service and bringing on good personnel, in the face of slowly diminishing backlog, the Board decided to no longer invest in our operation.  We appreciate the 30+ years we had in Omaha.

Going forward, I ask you to please utilize your network to find a home for our quality people.  I wholeheartedly endorse every one of them.  Some of them may be provided an opportunity at another GSI office so you might want to speak with them quickly.  They are:

                Doug Carey                  Construction Services Manager               

                Jeffrey Seymour, P.E.  Environmental Engineer

                 Chuck Keppard          Senior Engineering Technician                   

                Paul Frederick             Senior Engineering Technician                   

                Amy Jorgensen           Office Administrator                                     

                Jimmy Ball                   Environmental Technician                           

                               

As for me, most of you know that I came to Omaha from Chicago less than a year and a half ago.  Although my personal network here is small, my wife and I are determined to make it work here.  If any of you are interested in speaking with me or know of opportunity for a sales minded engineer who loves managing teams and improving businesses, I hope you will keep me in mind.  You can find me via LinkedIn or contact me via email or on my cell phone. 

Thank you for the opportunity to work with you and thank you for your friendship.

 

Best regards,

 

Nick Wolff

 

This is an example of how I am trying to help others.  If I can find a home for my staff, I think it would go a long way to having them remembering me well.  What if all of our companies took such steps to help out their former partners?  I am confident that this will come back to me.  It may be next week or 10 years from now, but the reward will come.  The universe loves balance.  The more positive notions you put out, the more positivity returns to you.

Tomorrow I intend to discuss how 16 months of relationship building locally is translating into opportunities before my eyes.  Behold the magic of being a good person!

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Financial Freedom: Redefine What is Impossible

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My son is 2 years old.  It’s a fascinating time in a young person’s life.  It is amazing how much a child develops from month to month.  Just today, my son and I were at a local restaurant that had a play room which featured a large jungle gym.  We’ve been to this place before and there is a section of the jungle gym where the bars are spaced further apart than in other places.  He had not been able to climb this area by himself a couple of weeks ago.  Today, I had the feeling that he was going to be able to do it. 

I encouraged him to go to that difficult part of the jungle gym.  Although he was excited (as he always is), I could tell that he was a little intimidated.  When we take on a task in which we had met with failure in the past, we all experience intimidation and fear.  None of us like to experience setbacks and the embarrassment, sometimes external and often internal, that accompanies it.  But it is important to remember that you are never quite the same person who struggled and failed before.  You are older and wiser than you were during the last attempt.  We learn far more from our setbacks than from our victories.  Sometimes, it is just the force of sheer will to continue to attempt despite the history and despite the objections of the nay-sayers.  Thomas Edison developed the incandescent light bulb after thousands of failed attempts.  Some thought the invention was impossible.  But through the persistence and hard work, his invention brought light to millions and combined with his other innovations provided him with riches.

300px Thomas edison gl%C3%BChbirne Financial Freedom: Redefine What is Impossible
 
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My son began to climb the bars and soon arrived at the same place where he had had difficulty two weeks before.  He tried to climb as he always had and was unsuccessful.  He became frustrated and asked for my help where I had helped him before, but I told him no.  I told him I think he could climb it without my help.  “You can do it! I know you can!”  I also pointed to a place that I thought he might be able to use as a foothold which would give him the leverage to push himself up.  The first time I pointed this out to him, he seemed puzzled, but he soon had his foot there; and then, with difficulty, he eventually was able to push himself up to the next rung.  Surprised and happy, he had a big smile.  He joyfully yelled out, “I did it!”.  And I, smiling the proud smile only a father can have, yelled out, “Yes you did! Good job!” 

 Financial Freedom: Redefine What is Impossible
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Soon after World War II, the United States started to design better, faster and more powerful aircraft.  As the planes became faster, they began approaching what was then called the “sound barrier”.  Pilots approaching the sound barrier experienced shaking associated with turbulence that many feared would destroy the plane.  Some scientists were convinced that the speed of sound was the speed limit of things flying through the air.  In 1947, test pilot, Chuck Yeager, broke the sound barrier.  Soon after dozens of pilots began to break the sound barrier until it no longer was referred to as a barrier, it was simply the speed of sound.  History is filled with such moments when what was the impossible suddenly becomes possible and when those who follow can perform the same feats with ease.

My son soon climbed the bars again.  This time he was no longer frustrated.  He knew what he had to do.  The impossible was now possible for him and he would not be denied.  Watching your child succeed is probably the most fulfilling joy in the world to a parent.  I look forward to a lifetime of victories.

Your experience and the experience of your children may be that it is impossible to become financially free.  It’s not.  It doesn’t matter your background, your history, your challenges or your current income.  Greatness lies within you and within them.  Nourish your child’s belief in himself or herself.  Learn with your children so you can help them to the extent that you can. 

Remember the impossible is only impossible until someone does it.

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I Remember when Michael Jordan was Terrible

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Jordan by Lipofsky 16577 I Remember when Michael Jordan was Terrible
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Michael Jordan was probably the best athlete to ever play the game of basketball.  Not only was he naturally talented, he consistently worked hard to improve his game.  He was a legendary competitor.  In every facet of the game, he outthought, outfoxed and outworked his opponents.  Then, at the peak of his success, he decided to switch sports. 

Michael Jordan’s 2 year effort to become a professional baseball player was a terrible experience to watch.  Many of the things that brought him success playing basketball did not desert him.  The work ethic, the physical skill, the competitive spirit were all still there, but he languished playing in the minor leagues.  So why didn’t he succeed, where success followed him before?  He couldn’t hit a breaking ball.

Financial success is the net result of a series of good actions and smart decisions made over time.  It requires work ethic, talent, persistence and smart decision making.  Take one of these things away and it becomes a much longer and uncertain road to success. 

Explosive earning power comes from working in your talents, doing things you love and doing them over a long period of time so others come to appreciate your work.  If you don’t love what you are doing, even if you are talented at it, the quality of the work will suffer and/or you will become so burnt out you will not succeed.  If you aren’t talented in what you do, the quality of the work will never be high enough to generate large wealth.  Without persistence, you will never develop a following that is a key driver of creating that wealth.  

We parents are always watching our children.  We often see their flaws and we try to correct them. We sometimes can see their talents and we are grateful that at least that is one area where I can take more of a “hands off” role.  Maybe we look at the marketplace and try to steer our children into the roles that we think will bring them security and success.  This is the wrong approach.  People don’t outgrow who they are.  A child who struggles with math probably won’t make a good actuary.  Another child may be very talented at math, but becomes exhausted by doing a problem set.  People have many talents, but only a few of the talents really allow us to experience a life we love.

Parents have enormous influence over their children.  Sometimes a simple throwaway comment given at a critical time may set a child on a wrong course that may take years to correct.  There are millions of people who currently work in careers which began because a well-meaning father said something like, “I think you would make a great architect.” 

Work ethic, persistence and brainpower can take a young person very far.  But she will only thrive if she is working in the right field.  We parents have a responsibility to be careful observers of our children.  Our children need to be allowed to discover their gifts and ultimately their calling.  Be mindful of what you are saying to your children.  Talk frequently about their talents, what they enjoy doing and, as they grow, what they could see themselves loving to do every day of their adult lives.  Nurture your child’s talents and find the ones that he really enjoys exercising.  These will be the key to not only wealth, but self esteem and general happiness.  As they get into adolescence, start working on a career path.  Perhaps visit a career counselor. Encourage your child to experiment with a few opportunities.  The choice of a career is one of the most important choices a person faces.  Careful work, great deliberation and time will create the best chance that your child will make the best choice. 

Michael Jordan eventually went back to basketball, where he returned to winning form, but he lost the chance to do what he loved for 3 years.  Do what you can to help your child do what they love as soon as possible.  Three years is a long time.

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Cultivating Work Ethic

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I had the pleasure of listening to a recent lecture by a researcher in child psychology. One of the most interesting findings involved an experiment of 7th grade students.  All students were asked to perform a set of some moderate difficulty math problems.  After completion of the problems, one-half of the students were complimented on how smart they were for being able to solve the problems.  The other half were complimented on how hard they worked to get to the solutions.  Though the problems that each group worked on were unchanged, those kids who were complimented by the effort they exerted as opposed to some innate intelligence were substantially more likely to choose to do a more complex set of math problems when given a choice of a new assignment.

This finding is fascinating to me.  It demonstrates that work ethic and the willingness to work hard and take on new challenges can be cultivated in children.

Wealth creation is the result of a collection of habits founded on fundamental premises.  Habits such as spending less than you earn, performing due diligence and managing risk can be brought about by education and practice.  But if the fundamental premises behind wealth creation are not observed or not believed, no amount of education and training can help your child down the road to success.  This means that one of the most important tasks for any caring parent must be to instill a strong work ethic and cultivate a belief that usually hard work dedicated to a good purpose over time is a great recipe for success. 

We have the benefit of living in a time in history where our society can afford a great deal.  Not long ago, young boys and girls of age 10 were busy planting and harvesting crops or performing the household laundry.  Families needing to eat had to hunt or fish or grow their own food.  Our lives of convenience are truly blessed, but with our increased time for ourselves, what do we do with this time.   Our children in many cases live lives of comfortable privilege free from the cares of daily life.  As a parent, I wish that my children never know pain or hardship, but we forget that pain is an important part of the learning process.  When my son hits his head on the edge of a table and he cries, he will know next time to be more careful and mind where the table’s edge is.  Similarly, nearly all families and individual at one time or another will suffer some financial hardship.  But hardship is not permanent condition.  I, myself, learned the hardest financial lessons in a time of hardship.  These lessons have only tempered my resolve to pursue success and the hardship itself has forced me to make decisions that have propelled me further down the road. 

Parents, to cultivate a strong work ethic in your children it is important to keep in mind several items

  • Money must be tied to effort – Reject the concept of an allowance.  Demand that your children perform some of the household tasks in exchange for any money you provide them.
  • Encouragement – Periodically, be sure to encourage your children to continue to work hard by recognizing the effort they put in.  Reinforce that success is a pattern of reward that follows achievement.
  • Share how the family works through hardship – Whether you realize it or not, your kids are watching and they know when things are tough for mom and dad.  So let them know, to the extent that they can understand, what is happening and how you are working to resolve the problem.  You may be working longer hours or doing extra jobs or giving up on luxuries that you used to enjoy.  Explain these things with a smile.  Let your children know that work is one of the best companions you have on the road to success, because work can help you solve nearly all financial problems.
  • Work is life – Most importantly, it is important that your children learn early on that it is only through our contributions that we make the world a better place.  Anything of value ever created throughout human history has been brought about by the efforts of individuals working in solitude or in concert with others. 

Children want to change the world; but the world has never changed by itself.  It changed because of the desire and effort of the former 7th grader who once chose the harder set of math problems.

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Welcome to YouthFinancialEducation.com!

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We are the only site that is exclusively dedicated to helping young people plant their feet safely on the road of financial success.  It is my hope that you will visit here often.  If you are a parent, we will work with you to help you empower your children so they make financially smart choices.  If you are a young person, you will find this forum a great place to learn from others, interact and develop skills that take most of us years to develop–if we ever do.

I learned through a lot of pain and heartache that the dumb financial decisions I made at the dawn of my career dramatically impacted my enjoyment and quality of life for years after that.  I established this community in the hopes that I can spare others the pains and troubles that I unwittingly allowed myself to experience.

I look forward to helping you find and follow the road of financial success, no matter if you are 9 to 90 years young.

Best,

Nick

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