Friday, June 26, 2009

This Speech Has Been Long Overdue.

Jeffrey Immelt of General Electric Company has made a speech that is worth reading in its entirety. He says things that our leaders should have said long ago. Click on the title of this post to read it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Saving Money Made Easy

Americans are known for saving very little of their income. Many think they just can't do it; others think that saving just a little bit would be insignificant. The truth is that the best thing about saving is that it gets you into the habit. Try this approach: Open up two accounts at the bank. One should be a savings or money market account. The other should be a checking account. Every time you get paid, deposit the whole amount into the savings or money market account. This account becomes your capital formation resource. Every time you receive any payment, deposit all of it into your capital account, and transfer only what you need for immediate expenses and current bill payments into your checking account. Some weeks you may even have to transfer out more than you put in that week, but the important thing is that you get into the habit of following the deposit-and-transfer procedure. After a while you will start to see the residue amounts that you left in your capital formation account increase significantly. Save just a little, but do it over a long period of time, and it pays off. Even if your bank account for capital accumulation doesn't pay much interest, it will soon let you start to pay some bills from cash instead of charge cards, and that will save you plenty of interest. You may even find that you will be able to reduce or eliminate your past balances on those cards.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ready, Set, Upset!

Whenever things are getting to be too boring or routine for you, it's time to shake things up. If your business is lagging, do something differently. If your employees aren't enthusiastic about their working conditions, do something radically different. If you don't receive as much non-spam e-mail as you would like, start writing to contacts. Almost any innovation has its greatest impact during the period immediately following its implementation. As time passes, its effectiveness falls off, usually exponentially (which is a pretty drastic falloff). The way to keep interested in what you are doing and to make it the most effective, is to periodically introduce something new. Each new thing, process, or innovation will cause a spike of interest and/or business which will be followed by the usual drop-off. You create excitement when you keep those innovation spikes coming. Brainstorm with yourself or a few friends, and you'll come up with changes that are easy and a lot more fun that doing things the same way forever.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Everything's Relative

It's hard to believe that it's late spring or meteorological summer, with a long string of temperatures of 60 degrees F or less. It feels quite chilly even though it's June. However, I have to remind myself that most people around here (Illinois) would have given almost anything to get temperatures this warm a few months ago. Our bodies and brains adjust their expectations so that we notice significant deviations from the normal temperature, even as that normal temperature varies over the course of the year. Similarly, a day is longer for a young child than it is for an older person because it is a larger percentage of the life experienced up to that point. This is why time seems to accelerate and whiz by as you grow older. A day, week, month, or year becomes a smaller and smaller percentage of your life. The allure of travelling to exotic places decreases as the number of those trips increase. A tourist and a traveling salesperson have different impressions of the same trip.
All of this is to say that there are very few absolute goals in life. You might as well be satisfied with what you have, because the value of looking for more decreases as you keep seeking additions to what you already have. Enjoy the journey. It's more interesting than accumulating destinations just for the sake of saying you've been there.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Local News vs. World News

I have a relative who only watches and listens to local news. He isn't at all concerned with what happens on the larger world scene. I tend to closely monitor the national and international news while only briefly reviewing the local news. Who is correct? The answer is probably that we are both correct because we have different points of view. My relative is more concerned with his day-to-day costs, taxes, and laws that impact his lifestyle. I am more focused on long-term trends and national/international developments that will have impact on my personal life in the future. The fact that different people have varying viewpoints and priorities is a good thing. Because of this sort of situation, you can have negotiations and family plans where both parties are satisfied with the outcome. If we both wanted exactly the same thing, one would come out of a negotiation the winner and the other the loser. Progress is made when you can satisfy all parties without having winners and losers. To paraphrase President John F. Kennedy, people and countries all act in their own enlightened self-interest. We will have coexistence, peace, and prosperity to the extent that those self-interests are not mutually exclusive.