Sunday, March 22, 2020

Voices of Reason from Medicine and Finance

Last week’s post (I’m Not Scared; I’m Pissed) generated more comments than usual. What surprised me more was that almost everyone agreed with me. Trust me, that doesn’t happen often.

So, it got me thinking. Maybe I’m not just in the vocal minority this time. Let me share some great thinking with you from medical and financial experts on this distribution list.
Dr. Tom Hedberg, Executive Director of the International Medical Crisis Response Alliance (IMCRA), told me we’re still a long way from the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 that infected one-fourth of the world’s population and killed close to one million Americans. However, there’s no guarantee it can’t happen again.

“While our treatment facilities are excellent, a virulent airborne mutant contagion could prove a serious threat, and widespread infection rates could easily overwhelm such facilities,” observed Hedberg. He added that Americans are exceptionally well-informed about medical and health issues and many will be likely to take appropriate individual measures (i.e. work from home, gloves in public, disinfectant wipes in the home).

While we all have to be highly diligent about hygiene and observing shelter-in-place rules, Dr. Hedberg believes the virus in its current form poses the greatest threat to elderly persons with pre-existing health conditions. “Young children are only slightly affected and robust healthy persons are: 1) likely to get over the infection on their own and 2) Very likely to get over it with treatment,” maintained Hedberg.

“The bottom line of course will be the number of virus carriers coming into the country from high infection-rate areas. This can be limited by curtailing flights FROM such countries and encouraging flights OUT of the US. Unfortunately, the government seems to be handling this backwards if it is handling it at all,” Hedberg added.

You’re getting advice from a zillion different places, and I don’t need to add to the confusion
—Josh Patrick

Josh Patrick
, founder of Stage 2 Planning Partners and host of The Sustainable Business podcast told me: “Yes, the markets are plunging. Yes, we don’t have nearly enough test kits and when we do, the number of cases will skyrocket. We need testing so we know where and how bad the issue is. That’s when we can start taking actions that we know will help.”
As Patrick noted, it appears the number of cases in South Korea and China is moving down. “South Korea has been testing extensively and is likely the best model for us to use right now. I’m hoping our government figures out how to get testing done widely so we know what the real issue and numbers are in the country.”

According to Patrick, we need to have all of our news sources and political leaders tell us the truth about what’s going on. “The advice we’re getting from the science community seems to be good advice. The advice from our politicians has been mixed. The truth is with all the disinformation about the virus and its effects makes it more difficult to know what to do and what not to do. The science people are saying we are now in a phase they term community spread, so it’s now being transmitted from one human to another within our country and not from people outside the country,” noted Patrick.

Dr. Hedberg, a neuroscientist by training, had a unique take on the stock market sell-off triggered by Coronavirus. “This was a typical Stage-1 emotional response, which is usually highly volatile. The Stage-2 response came a bit later when investors began to realize how a large-scale shutdown in Chinese industry for an indefinite period would impact their holdings financially. The Stage-3 response which is underway right now is a more sober long-term assessment of the medical realities of the disease worldwide and how it may impact international trade and finance,” added Hedberg.

“We’ve been expecting a downturn in the markets, we just didn’t know what would trigger it. Now we know,” observed Patrick. “The markets don’t like uncertainty. That’s one thing we have a ton of right now. After we start seeing real numbers and see what the impact will be on the economy, I expect the markets will adjust appropriately… either up or down.”

Dr. Hedberg expects to see some “Stage 3” market correction as investors learn more about the disease and “how low the death rate is compared to the infection rate--and which segments of the population (i.e. the elderly) are most seriously affected.”

Job One: Helping clients keep emotions in check

Uninformed emotional selloffs should be “avoided at all costs,” noted Dr. Hedberg. “While IMCRA makes no claims to be an international financial advising organization, our general advice is to avoid stampeding out of certain holdings unless careful research proves that the organization in which stock is held is primarily supported by Chinese labor in areas like Wuhan, which are unlikely to recover rapidly.”

Patrick said that when pandemics come under control, markets historically correct. “I’m hoping that’s true this time as well.” In terms of predicting a recession or further market adjustment, Dr. Hedberg said the most accurate assessment will come from “monitoring the global impact of COVID-19 as we head toward springtime in the northern hemisphere and the likely decrease in the spread of the disease late this month and on into April.”
Common sense rules the day

Our experts agreed we should abide by the common sense (not bunker) approach to taking care of ourselves and our loved ones:

1) Refrain as much as possible from crowded environments where many people are breathing and re-breathing the same air.
2) Use gloves in public whenever possible.
3) Cough and sneeze into your elbow.
4) Use face masks in public whenever possible.
5) Increase your consumption of vitamin C through citrus fruits.
6) Avoid physiologic stress situations such as going out into the cold inappropriately dressed.
7) If you exhibit symptoms, do not just wander into an emergency room or your doctor’s office till you call.


If you want to give up and convince yourself that the world’s coming to an end, go ahead. Just don’t drag the rest of us down with you. For all of our faults, the U.S. has always been a nation of fighters. We’re generous in times of need. We adapt to change faster than most other large countries. We don’t let anyone, or anything push us around.
We’ll get through this crisis--and all the ones that follow.

# Covid-19 #stock market  #Tom Hedberg #IMCRA #Josh Patrick #Sustainable Business

Sunday, March 15, 2020

I’m Not Scared; I’m Pissed

The events of the past two weeks reminded me of a story.

One day last fall I went in for my annual physical. The longtime family doctor we loved had recently retired. He sold his practice to a huge medical conglomerate. Let’s call it Medical, Inc. As you can imagine, the level of care and time spent with patients is quite a bit less at Medical, Inc. than it is at a small family practice. You’re no longer a person; you’re just a patient DOB and a case number.

Long story short, a very inexperienced technician botched my standard electrocardiogram test (not once but twice). Her errors caused in an apparent “blip” on my EKG chart, which panicked my new 30-something doctor into thinking I had a heart arrhythmia. Again, he didn’t know me very well.

Next thing you know, the door to the examining room is locked. I’m forced to swallow aspirin tablets. Local cops and EMTs are rushing me into an ambulance while a small crowd of onlookers in the parking lot is trying to see who the poor sap in the gurney is. Pretty humiliating.

Does any of this sound familiar?

As some of you know, I’m a national class triathlete and distance runner in my age group. I have no history of heart disease or cardiovascular illness. My ticker’s just fine and I had just done a hilly 25-mile bike ride that morning before coming in for my physical.

Didn’t matter.

The more I pleaded my case, the more belligerent the emergency workers got: “Mr. Berkowitz. Do you understand what’s happening? If you don’t get in the ambulance right now, we’re going to have to sedate you.”

Finally, it hit me: Holy crap. I’m in the system and I can’t get out!
“Okay, fine. I’ll play along” I told myself. ”I can’t believe this is happening to me,” I thought as we whizzed down a major state highway, blowing through red lights to get to the hospital emergency room.  

I tried not to think about my half-eaten bagel, briefcase and computer still sitting in my car outside the medical center. I tried not to worry about my wife working out of town that week or my teenage son who’d be expecting me to pick him up at school in an hour. I wasn’t allowed to call anyone.
To be honest, I was mostly panicking about the big fat bill I was likely to get for the unexpected ambulance ride. I tried not to think about all the client meetings that would have to be cancelled that die (and the lost revenue).

You can’t fight the riptide

I’ve learned one thing from all those rough-water ocean swims--you can’t fight the riptide. You have to let the riptide take you where it wants to go and trust that it will eventually deposit you onshore. You might end up half a mile down the beach from where you started; but at least you’ll be on dry land none the worse for the wear.

Same goes for the Covid-19 virus and all the residual panic it has triggered. I know the virus is for real. I know there’s no known cure. I know our government and disease control experts F’d up their chance to do early testing and detection. I know the media and financial markets are pouring more gasoline on the panic fire. But, we’ll get through this crisis just like we got through the Global Financial Crisis, 9/11, Y2K, AIDS, SARS, Ebola and every other catastrophe we’ve faced in recent decades. These Black Swan crises seem to come every 10 years or so, and we’ll surely have another one before the end of this decade.

Here's the thing.

As long as human beings have the will to live and as long as businesses want to make money, we’ll get back to some semblance of normalcy in our lives sooner rather than later. You can’t fight those natural forces any more than you can hold back the ocean. You have to relax, go with the flow and learn to adapt.
In my next post, I’ll share some really great insights about disaster recovery and resilience from my friends Dr. Tom Hedberg of the International Medical Crisis Response Alliance (IMCRA) and Josh Patrick, founder of Stage2 Partners and host of the Sustainable Business podcast.

Back to my ordeal

After 36 frustrating hours in the hospital emergency room, I was finally whisked to a comfy private room and told to rest up for my all-important “treadmill test.” Having completed 20 marathons, 50 triathlons and eight 24-hour running relays, I wasn’t too concerned about walking 20 minutes on a treadmill. But when you have dozens of people checking your vital signs every 15 minutes with concerned looks on their faces and when they keep asking are you sure you’re up to this, you start to doubt yourself and wonder if maybe there really is something wrong with you.

Own your fears

Same thing happens when you’re glued to the news and the doomsday stock market bulletins all day long. You start to question all the foundations and stability in your life. DON’T DO IT!
Down in the bowels of the hospital, they have armies of technicians, banks of treadmills and lots of high-tech equipment to monitor your vital signs. You get your torso shaved, drink some electrolytes and start walking on the treadmill up a slight grade. Well, 45 minutes into the test, I’m hardly breaking a sweat and the pulse monitor’s barely elevated. Just like in the back of the ambulance, I cursed under my breath: “What a waste of resources!”

Finally, the head cardiologist walks in with an annoyed look on his face. He takes a look at my chart and snarls at the technicians: “Jesus Christ! What are we doing here, people? Obviously, this man’s an athlete. Get him out of here and start treating some sick people.”

Just remember, stocks are still up over 450 percent from the end of the global financial crisis, 11 years ago this week. Let’s take a healthy pause, get ourselves re-centered and get back to work and school ASAP so we can get on with our lives.
We’re all in this together and we’re only as strong as our weakest link. Let’s put aside our petty differences and help each other out so we can get back to normal.
That’s how we beat the terrorists after 9/11. That’s how we’ll beat Covid-19.

# Covid-19 #stock market  #Tom Hedberg #IMCRA #Josh Patrick #Sustainable Business

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Corona Coping: Listen to Your Doctor and Financial Advisor

One of the great things about my building is that you can network informally with so many smart people from all types of businesses and professions. After a week like we just had, it can be very helpful to get a big-picture global perspective from outside the financial world.

The International Medical Crisis Response Alliance (IMCRA) is right down the hall from me. Executive Director, Dr. Tom Hedberg and I have become friends thanks to shared interests in fitness, fiction and coffee-intake. Like behavioral finance pros, neuroscientists like Dr. Hedberg are fascinated by the way that human emotion takes over our rational decision-making during times of stress.

I asked Hedberg how serious the Coronavirus really is in the U.S.
Hedberg said it’s very hard to predict because U.S. citizens are historically not likely to be “closely bound” by government regulations concerning quarantines and isolation measures. “While our treatment facilities are excellent, a virulent airborne mutant contagion could prove a serious threat, and that widespread infection rates could easily overwhelm such facilities,” noted Hedberg. That being said, Hedberg believes Americans are “exceptionally well-informed about medical and health issues” and that most of us will take appropriate measures such as using disinfectant wipes in the home and gloves in public. 
The bottom line of course will be the number of virus carriers coming into the country from high infection-rate areas. “This can be limited by curtailing flights FROM such countries and encouraging flights OUT of the US,” added Hedberg. 

While infection rates could be significant, experts say fatality rates so far have been low.

“It appears the virus in its current form poses the greatest threat to elderly persons with pre-existing health conditions,” noted Hedberg. “Young children are only slightly affected and robust healthy persons are: 1) likely to get over the infection on their own and 2) Very likely to get over it with treatment.”

Hedberg reiterated the importance of staying calm and not overreacting to the news coming out of other countries, as well as the inflammatory domestic headlines about Wall Street and the economy.

True, the stock market had its worst week since the 2008 global financial crisis. But even with a 12-percent sell off, the broad-based indexes are still up by about 6 percent over the past 52 weeks and up by over 400 percent since 2009. While he’s not a professional investor, Hedberg said he’s going “bargain hunting” next week for undervalued stocks.

While over 80-percent of respondents to our annual CPA/Wealth Advisor Confidence Survey™ think we could see another 10-percent market correction within 12 months, only one in five (21%) think it’s “very likely” we’ll experience a recession within that time. That number moved only 5 percentage points from this time a week ago, before the market sell off began. There’s still time to take the survey….Give us 5 minutes of your time, and we’ll send you a report to show your responses stack up to your peers.

NOTE: We don’t make money from the survey or share respondent names or emails. It’s a pro bono effort in association with The Financial Awareness Foundation.
Whether talking about your finances or your health, the bottom line, said Hedberg, is to use common sense:

1) Refrain as much as possible from crowded environments where many people are breathing and re-breathing the same air.

2) Wear gloves in public whenever possible.

3) Use facemasks in public whenever possible (This is de rigeur in Japan and should become so in the U.S.).

4) Increase intake of vitamin C through citrus fruits.

5) Avoid physiologic stress situations such as going out into the cold inappropriately dressed.

6) Don’t get spooked by the headlines.


As with so many upsets in life, staying calm and using common sense will get us through this crisis and all its residual impacts. Don’t succumb to the headlines. Heed the advice of your financial and medical advisors and don’t hesitate to reach out them with questions or concerns. Let’s get on with your busy lives.

# Corona virus  #stock market  #Tom Hedberg #IMCRA

Sunday, February 23, 2020

You Never Know. Lessons from a Zamboni Driver

Hard to believe, but it was the 40th anniversary of the Miracle on Ice hockey game this weekend. That’s when a team of scrappy American college kids pulled off one of the greatest upsets in sports history. Against all odds, they defeated Russia’s undefeated elite professional team in the semifinals of the Lake Placid Olympics and spawned countless books, motivational speeches and a movie.
There was another hockey miracle this weekend, which I’ll get to in a minute. But first let’s look at what else transpired first in a topsy turvy week.

Baylor University’s men’s basketball team, ranked No.1 in the country, was knocked off by Kansas, ending Baylor’s 23-game winning streak. A few hours later, No. 2 ranked Gonzaga, went down hard to unranked Brigham Young University, ending Gonzaga’s 19-game winning streak. Then, the nation’s only remaining undefeated team, 4th ranked San Diego State, lost to unranked Nevada Las Vegas, ending State’s 26-game winning streak.

Speaking of Las Vegas, Bernie Sanders, until recently a fringe candidate in the overcrowded Democratic presidential field, obliterated the competition Saturday night at the Nevada Democratic Primary. Now most of the remaining five contenders are on thin ice.

*** To what extent will the elections impact the economy and financial markets. Take our 4th annual CPA/Wealth Advisor Confidence Survey™. See what your peers think

Back to hockey. How many of you know the name David Ayres? I didn’t either until this morning and I’m a hockey fan. 
In last night’s National Hockey League game between the Carolina Hurricanes and host Toronto Maple Leafs, both Hurricanes goalies got injured on separate hits by the Leafs. Without any goalies left on the bench, the Hurricanes turned to a 42 year-old Zamboni driver named David Ayres, an emergency backup goaltender and kidney transplant survivor from Toronto who was sitting in the stands.  

Without time to warm up, Ayres was asked to enter the game in the third period and preserve Carolina’s lead against the hometown team. After allowing the first two Toronto shots to slide through his pads, Ayres steadied himself and stopped the next eight shots, preserving Carolina’s 6-3 win. Ayres became the first emergency backup goaltender ever to win an NHL game was mobbed in the Carolina locker room by his temporary teammates.

Talk about being ready for anything!

Ayres, who had also battled two bouts of skin cancer, drives the Zamboni ice resurfacing machine for Toronto’s minor league team. He has filled in a few times in emergency situations in the minor leagues, but never before in the NHL. His job is simple: Be ready for anything on the off-chance your number is called.

After Carolina’s backup goalie Petr Mrzaek went down, Ayres told reporters: " I got a bunch of text messages that said, 'Get in there,' and someone came into the room and like, 'Hey, you'd better get dressed, hey, you're going out there. I was a little shocked, but loving it."


We live in a crazy, unpredictable world when anything can happen. Sure, things seem pretty good right now on the economic and financial market front, but this is exactly when you want clients to get regular medical checkups, “stress-test” their portfolios and see how they’d fare if a natural disaster hit.

*** Find out why half of the CPAs and wealth advisors we surveyed think a recession is possible within 12 months.

Battening down the hatches when you’re flush is the best way I know to be proactive, rather than reactive, during times of stress so you can keep your momentum going without praying for a miracle.

# Miracle on ice  #Zamboni drivers  #David Ayres

Saturday, February 01, 2020

Wisdom of the Crowd? Not on Super Bowl Sunday

Whether you’re a hardcore football fun or just a casual observer, chances are you’re going to get sucked into watching the Super Bowl—the world’s most watched sporting event. Even if you don’t know a screen pass from a screen door, you’ll be tempted to make a friendly wager or two with a co-worker, a friend or someone at a neighbor’s Super Bowl party.
That’s okay. We won’t tell.

Nearly $7 billion will be wagered on Sunday’s big game according to CNBC. That’s roughly a dollar for every man, woman and child on the planet. And it’s not just cigar-chomping high rollers reaching into their wallets. Roughly 26 million regular people are expected to bet on the Super Bowl, according to the American Gaming Association. Of those 26 million bettors, only 4 million will be wagering in person at a sportsbook. Only 5 million will are expected to bet through an online or mobile platform. The rest of us — roughly 16 million — will bet illegally via a bookie, an office pool, or a “buy a square” board at your favorite pub or deli.
It's fun, right?

I’m not going to debate the ethics or gambling or whether or not you should report your winnings to the IRS if you haul in more than $600. Just don’t use real money—money you can’t afford to lose—if you lay the points, buy a square, ride the dog, parlay a prop or squeeze the under or make some other kind of wager on the game. Eventually you will lose, just like you do in the stock market. No one has ever gone undefeated in the market or in sports betting. And just like investing, the pain of a loss in sports betting is felt significantly more than the thrill of a gain. I didn’t make that up. It’s based on the theory of “loss aversion” that was pioneered by Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky.

Bottom line: You have about the same odds of being a consistently successful sports gambler as you do being a consistently successful market timer—close to zero. That’s because the market instantaneously prices in every material piece of information that’s out there and does it a lot faster than you, or any well-staffed Wall Street firm can possibly do. 

Our client Chas Boinske, President of Wayne, Pennsylvania-based Independence Advisors and author of the forthcoming book “Masterful Investing,” likens the market to “the world’s fastest super-computer” that continuously sets and updates prices. “When you try to play the market,” writes Boinske, “that’s exactly what you’re up against—one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world Good luck.”

Oh. And there’s another thing. Vegas oddsmakers aren’t in business to lose money. They have armies of people who spend all day long scouring injury reports, field conditions, scouting reports, trends, and even the police blotter the night before big games. Their job is to set an equilibrium price (aka the betting line) that has an equal number of people on both sides of the bet. And there will be a lot of dumb people throwing down their money on Super Bowl Sunday.
Now, I can’t speak to the entire $7 billion expected to be gambled on the Super Bowl. But of the $150 million or so that’s handled legally through the Vegas Sports Book, oddsmakers consistently make a return of about 7.3% for themselves. Does that 7.3% rate of return sound familiar? It should, because 7.3% is what the stock market historically returns to investors on an annualized basis.
In case you were wondering, the line (aka equilibrium price) for tomorrow’s big game is Kansas City favored by 1-1/2 points over San Francisco and the two teams are expected to combine for 54-1/2 points. That’s what -1.5 (54.5) means when you see it in the sports section. What that really means is that half of all the bettors out there think Kansas City will win by two or more points and half think San Francisco will either win the game “straight up” or else lose the game by less than two points.

So how do they come up with half a point?

Do they split a field goal in half? Nope. Half a point is the same thing as fractional shares in the stock market. It’s the equilibrium price that keeps getting adjusted all the time so that an equal number of bettors (aka investors) are on either side of the line. Same goes for that 54.5 number also known as the Over/Under. All that means is that half of all the betters out there think the two teams will combine to score 54 points or less and half think they’ll combine to score 55 points or more. Believe me. It doesn’t matter if the score is a tense 28-26 or a blowout 49-3. If you’ve got a lot of money on the “Under,” you’ll be sweating it out big-time if one of the teams starts lining up for a field goal in the final minute of the game.

Fun, right?
Like the markets, Vegas doesn’t care who wins and who loses. The house just wants an equal amount of money on both side of the equilibrium price. In fact, professional sports books don’t do a very good job of accurately predicting the score of the game or the margin of victory. They just want a lot of transactions flowing in. Sound familiar?

If you’re new to sports betting, a point spread of 1-1/2 points like we have for Sunday’s game is pretty small. Sure, both teams are very good, Super Bowls are often lopsided affairs with an average margin of victory of about 10 to 11 points. In fact, only seven of the 53 previous Super Bowls (13%) have been decided by three points or less, and just one has had a one-point margin of victory. Further, there have been only two “pushes” in the 53-year history of the big game. A push is what happens when the favored team wins by exactly the point spread. In the 1997 Super Bowl, Green Bay was a 14-point favorite and indeed beat underdog New England by a score of 35-21. Three years later (January 2000), the old St. Louis Rams, a 7-point favorite, defeated underdog Tennessee by a score of 23-16. That’s been it for pushes.
Vegas hates pushes. They have to return everyone’s money whether they bet on the favorite or the underdog. Again, pushes don’t happen often. Sports books are set up to make money on both sides of the transaction just like market makers do. Like Wall Street analysts, oddsmakers can be consistently off target and still get paid. The average “miss” for the Super Bowl has been about 11 points when the favored team wins and it’s been about 10 points when the favored team loses.

Not great forecasting. But again, most of the time oddsmakers make money.
In case you were wonder, we found only four previous occasions in which the betting line was as close as it for Sunday’s Big game (1-1/2 points).
·         In 1982 San Francisco was a 1-point favorite over Cincinnati and ended up winning by 5 (26-21).
·         In 1973 Miami was a 1-point favorite over Washington and ended up winning by 7 (14-7).
·         In 2015 Seattle was a 1-point favorite over New England and ended up losing by 4 (28-24). Hmmn
·         In 2014 Denver was a 2-point favorite over Seattle and ended up getting blown out by 35 (43-8)  Oops!
So much for predicted close games.
James Surowiecki’s 2004 best-seller, The Wisdom of Crowds, argues that large groups of people tend to be much better than individuals when at assessing situations and making good decisions whether we’re talking about pop culture, psychology, biology, behavioral economics, and other fields. The wisdom of the crowd even works in the famous jelly bean estimating game. As Boinske relates in his book:

You’ve probably played the jelly bean game at least once in your life. That’s when a large jar of jelly beans is placed in a public space and people try to guess exactly how many jelly beans are in the jar. Whoever guesses closest to the actual number wins a prize – often the jelly beans themselves. Whether at a school, a county fair or a church fundraiser, it’s amazing how often someone in the crowd of people will guess exactly the right answer.

One day at our firm, my assistant and I poured 1,670 beans into a large plastic jug and we set it up on our lobby. Almost everyone wanted to play the game and guesses varied wildly – from 409 to 5,365. The average of our guesses was 1,653—just a hair off the correct answer. Wow, that’s spooky!


Just remember this: When it comes to investing and sports betting, the game is rigged by the house. The house always has both sides of the bet covered. The more emotional you become, they more they suck you in and take your money. Enjoy Sunday’s game and make a friendly wager or two with spare cash you absolutely can’t afford to lose. We’ll have plenty of team to get emotional as global market volatility kicks in with a vengeance in the turbulent months ahead.

# Super Bowl  #wisdom of the crowd  # sports betting  #investing

Monday, January 20, 2020

Imagine Giving Employees Time Off to Sit and Think

I got to thinking the other day. It seems like all I do all day long do is “do”—I never have time to think. I’m not proud of it, but I suspect I’m not alone.

As our client Anthony Glomski, founder of AG Asset Advisory, told and Authority Magazine recently, your employee’s minds are like computers. They can do amazing things, but you have to give them time to cool off and reboot occasionally, otherwise they start to wear down. “I’m not suggesting that you treat your people like computers,” Glomski said, “but rather, acknowledge the benefit that meditation would have for you and for them.”
Approaching an Exit, he was heavily influenced by early 20th century author and entrepreneur, W. Clement Stone, who Glomski came to admire greatly after auditing Stone’s foundation early in his career. When Stone was faced with a problem he couldn’t resolve, he would lock himself in a room for 30 minutes and simply meditate. “His reliance on the subconscious would ultimately manifest the answer,” explained Glomski.
Clear the head for mindfulness

Glomski said the core of Stone’s philosophy is based on mindfulness. “It’s about having good character and believing you can achieve anything as long as it doesn’t violate the laws of man. The philosophy is also about the power of the mind and the power of action and teaching the mind how to take action,” he added.

Glomski, was also influenced by Napoleon Hill, author of the book Think and Grow Rich
, originally published during the Great Depression. While researching his book, Hill interviewed hundreds of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs of his era and most credited meditation, mindfulness, and spirituality as the keys to their success.

Are you seeing a pattern?

As Glomski told Authority Magazine: “Nearly every one of the successful entrepreneurs I work with practices some form of meditation, spiritual practice or quiet thinking time. And the more progressive leaders I’ve encountered tend to pass that philosophy along within their companies and advocate for it.
This is something that’s especially important in today’s always-connect wired age.

“Technology is an amazing asset,” related Glomski, “but sometimes it can be a liability. Speaking both for myself as a business owner and as one who works closely with other business owners and entrepreneurs, I’ve found that common traits shared by so many of these high achievers are meditation, mindfulness, thoughtfulness, and setting aside time for deep, uninterrupted thought.”

It’s no surprise those high achievers are the ones most likely to give employees time to think. In my next post, I’ll explain how to
incorporate employee thinking time into your work culture and why Warren Buffet spent 80 percent of his remarkable career thinking.


My Uncle Carl was a highly successful securities lawyer and no stranger to long hours and high stress. He liked to get up every day at 4am to jog. Afterward, he’d take a shower, eat some breakfast and then go back to bed for a pre-work power nap before heading off to the office completely recharged. I’m not recommending Uncle Carl’s morning routine, but he knew what got him into the flow state for work and he’s still fit and razor sharp in his late 80s. Carl used to remind me at family gatherings: “Hank, even if you win the rat race someday, you’re still a rat.”

I’ve always been good about unplugging my devices and staying away from texts and emails during family time and off hours. Now I’m working on unplugging my mind. I’ll let you know how I do in 2020. Better yet, ping me and let me know how you find time just to sit and think. I’ll drop what I’m doing to read it over and contemplate.

#Mindfulness #Glomski #W. Clement Stone  #Productivity #Napoleon Hill

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

The Power of Content Calendars

With a little bit of planning, you’ll never lose sleep about “What Am I Going to Write About Next?!?” One simple formula can save you lots of headaches.

It’s no secret that credibility marketing is one of the most effective ways to position yourself as an expert in your niche. Research shows it’s one of the best ways to stay top of mind with clients, prospects, influencers and followers. Bylined blogs, e-newsletters, white papers, webinars, published articles, social media posts and podcasts are all proven forms of thought leadership marketing. In fact, more than half of advisors responding to the annual CPA/ Wealth Advisor Confidence Survey™ found those tactics “Very” or “Extremely” valuable.
We know you have the expertise in house, but how do you keep coming up with great topics when you don’t have a full-time writing staff?
Start with a plan. It’s as easy as 1-7-30-4-2-1

You wouldn’t allow clients to put their money into the market without an invest plan, would you? You wouldn’t hire an architect to build your dream house if he or she didn’t use blueprints, right? So, why would you start pushing out content to your universe of followers without a plan? As the old saying goes: “failing to plan is planning to fail.”

Getting started and sticking to it

Editorial calendars (aka content calendars) are what we typically recommend to help you get your thoughts organized for the short-term, intermediate term and long-term. You can start with a simple spreadsheet showing the months, types of content, topics covered and who’s responsible for each piece of content. DON’T OVERTHINK IT.
You don’t need to invest in expensive or sophisticated marketing automation software in the early going. The main objective is to have a simple snapshot of the year ahead and to try your best to stick to the plan. It’s OK to make adjustments as important new topics rise to the surface during the course of the year. But you want to maintain a consistent schedule—we call it a “cadence.” Consistency is just as important for a healthy publishing schedule as it is for your diet, exercise routine or personal enrichment initiatives.
When you think about it, content calendars are like New Year’s Resolutions. They tend to fail for the same reasons--you set your initial goals too high and then got overwhelmed. How many professional services websites have you seen in which there are eight blog posts and four bylined articles in January, then maybe two of each in February, then nothing in March? Sound familiar? Instead of giving up on your content marketing plans, as four out of five people do with their resolutions, make a plan that works for your organization.

To help you stick to your content plan, here are 6 key steps to follow:

1. Map out all the content your organization produces. 
There’s probably more than you think. In addition to blogs, write down all forms of content, including videos, photos, presentations, webinars, social media posts, marketing materials, press releases, industry and business articles, white papers, FAQs and events.

2. Sort this content into categories or types. 
Creating content categories ensures that your organization covers a broad range of topics, not just marketing. Categories can include: How/to best practices, industry trends, company news, marketing, events and more.

3. Identify who is creating your content. 
Your organization has plenty of experts even if they don’t think of themselves as “authors.” Anyone with hands-on experience within the company has a story to tell and can contribute to your content marketing effort. This includes employees from different areas of your company (marketing, IT, legal) as well as external authors (customers, partners, industry thought leaders).
4. Determine how much and how often your “experts” can contribute. Some authors can easily provide a steady stream of content (social media managers, public relations, customers), while others may be more sporadic (event planners, video producers).
5. Think rows and columns. Once you’ve completed these steps, develop a simple spreadsheet that includes all this information. From this spreadsheet, you can begin to create a content calendar. We like using a traditional monthly calendar because I can easily see what content is planned and when.

6. Be realistic about what your organization can accomplish. 
It might be helpful to think about frequency using a technique pioneered by content strategist Russell Sparkman/FusionSpark Media called the “1-7-30-4-2-1” method. Here’s how it works:

·         1 represents the content your organization can commit to publishing daily. This might be something as easy as sharing industry news via Twitter or Facebook.
·         refers to weekly content, such as a blog post.
·         30 is what your organization can publish monthly. These might be more extensive content pieces, such as an e-newsletter or video.
·         4 refers to a quarterly content commitment, such as a white paper, e-book or contest.
·         2 is biannual content, such as an event, new brochure or webcast.
·         1 is annual content, such as an event, conference or app.

Don’t get painted into a corner

We advise our clients to think three to six assignments ahead at all times. Start setting up little folders for each upcoming post or article now (paper or digital is fine). You never know when you’ll come across a great nugget or factoid in July that will be perfect for the assignment that’s not due until November.


Approaching content marketing in these manageable bite-sized steps prevents you from feeling overwhelmed and allows you to build a content calendar that’s manageable and sustainable. Best of all, this exercise is easier and less painful than dieting or going to the gym and you’ll have a “ripped” and “buff” reputation to show off for all your effort and discipline.

#Thought leadership   #Content management #content marketing