The Master of Living

The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion.  He hardly knows which is which.  He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing.  To him he’s always doing both.


Jaime Hepp, Tedford Picha, Liam Boyer, Apolo Ohno, Gareth Roberts, Eric Lee, Wanis Naguib



Who am I?

“I am your constant companion.  I am your greatest helper or heaviest burden.  I will push you onward or drag you down to failure.  I am completely at your command.  Half the things you do you might just as well turn over to me, and I will be able to do them quickly, correctly.  I am easily managed – you must merely be firm with me.  Show me exactly how you want something done, and after a few lessons I will do it automatically.  I am the servant of all great people; and alas, of all failures as well.  Those who are failures, I have made failures.  I am not a machine, though I work with all the precision of a machine plus the intelligence of a human being.  You may run me for a profit or turn me for ruin – it makes no difference to me.  Take me, train me, be firm with me, and I will place the world at your feet.  Be easy with me and I will destroy you.  Who am I?  I am habit.”   – Anonymous

Plan the Attack – Attack the Plan

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

“It’s too late for preparation when opportunity strikes.”

You’ve probably heard quotes like this for many years.  Most people I talk to feel pretty optimistic about 2011 – which is great.  For us to really make this a great year, we need to create a plan – otherwise we take the risk of another year racing past us with no real progress.

Planning is like sailing.  A sailor has a destination.  Without an “end in mind”, you are at the mercy of the wind, waves, and storms of life.  You will end up wherever outside influences push you.  Successful people plan the attack and attack the plan.

Enjoy the article below written by my friend, John Maxwell.



Jaime Hepp and John Maxwell




Leaders Cannot Afford to Neglect Planning

“Good planning always costs less than good reacting.” ~ Wayne Schmidt


In October 2010 the most expensive public works project in America, ARC, officially met its demise. The project would have constructed two tunnels beneath the Hudson River to add much-needed railways between New Jersey and Manhattan. However, poor planning led to wasteful spending and put the project on pace to exceed its budget by at least $1 billion.

A federal audit of the project brought to light an embarrassing lack of planning. The audit charged NJ Transit with failing to draw up plans to combat fraud and waste in its financial practices. The same audit chastised the FTA for authorizing NJ Transit to spend $1.35 billion without having seen a project management plan, master schedule, or financial plan from the agency. On account of ARC’s runaway costs and inadequate strategic plans, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie decided to cancel the project.

The Appeal of Planning Ahead

As a leader, you may be tempted to initiate action without taking the time to map out plans. After all, it feels unproductive to think about how to do something when you could simply roll up your sleeves and start making things happen. However, it’s far less of an investment to prepare for a project in advance than to repair a project after it has gone awry.


In leadership, all is well that begins well. Leaders who carefully craft strategies enjoy success, while those who haphazardly race forward experience heartache.

Strategy functions as a leader’s blueprint, playbook, or script. It aligns action and focuses energy toward a goal, preventing costly delays and wasted resources. By following a coherent strategy, leaders arrive at a predetermined destination instead of wandering in an uncertain direction.

These nine simple steps outline the leadership planning process. I trust they will be beneficial to you as you make plans for a successful 2011.

Predetermine Your Course of Action
Lay Out Your Goals
Adjust Your Priorities
Notify Key Personnel

Allow Time for Acceptance
Head into Action
Expect Problems
Always Point to Your Successes
Daily Review Your Progress


Preparing for our futures (financially)

Our generation needs to be responsible financially.  We need to think about our futures and prepare for them.

“Live for today.  Plan for tomorrow.”

Let me know your comments on this article that I found on Yahoo’s business page.


Baby boomers near 65 with retirements in jeopardy

The first baby boomers get set to turn 65 with their retirement security in jeopardy

Through a combination of procrastination and bad timing, many baby boomers are facing a personal finance disaster just as they’re hoping to retire. Starting in January, more than 10,000 baby boomers a day will turn 65, a pattern that will continue for the next 19 years.

The boomers, who in their youth revolutionized everything from music to race relations, are set to redefine retirement. But a generation that made its mark in the tumultuous 1960s now faces a crisis as it hits its own mid-60s.

“The situation is extremely serious because baby boomers have not saved very effectively for retirement and are still retiring too early,” says Olivia Mitchell, director of the Boettner Center for Pensions and Retirement Research at the University of Pennsylvania.

There are several reasons to be concerned:

**        The traditional pension plan is disappearing. In 1980, some 39 percent of private-sector workers had a pension that guaranteed a steady payout during retirement. Today that number stands closer to 15 percent, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute in Washington, D.C.

**        Reliance on stocks in retirement plans is greater than ever; 42 percent of those workers now have 401(k)s. But the past decade has been a lost one for stocks, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 index posting total returns of just 4 percent since the beginning of 2000.

**        Many retirees banked on their homes as their retirement fund. But the crash in housing prices has slashed almost a third of a typical home’s value. Now 22 percent of homeowners, or nearly 11 million people, owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth. Many are boomers.

Michael Vanatta, 61, of Vero Beach, Fla., is paying the price for being a boomer who enjoyed life without saving for the future. He put a daughter through college, but he also spent plenty of money on indulgences like dining out and the latest electronic gadgets.

Vanatta was laid off last January from his $100,000-a-year job as a sales executive for a turf company. And with savings of just $5,000, he’s on a budget for the first time. In April, he will start taking Social Security at age 62.

“If I’d been smarter and planned and had the bucks, I’d wait until 70,” says Vanatta, who is divorced and rents an apartment. “It’s my fault. For years I was making plenty of money and spending plenty of money.”

Vanatta is in the majority. Some 51 percent of early boomer households, headed by those ages 55 to 64, face a retirement with lower living standards, according to a 2009 study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

Too many boomers have ignored or underestimated the worsening outlook for their finances, says Jean Setzfand, director of financial security for AARP, the group that represents Americans over age 50. By far the greatest shortcoming has been a failure to save. The personal savings rate — the amount of disposable income unspent — averaged close to 10 percent in the 1970s and `80s. By late 2007, the rate had sunk to negative 1 percent.

The recession has helped improve the savings rate — it’s now back above 5 percent. Yet typical boomers are still woefully short on retirement savings. Even those in their 50s and 60s with a 401(k) for at least six years had an average balance of less than $150,000 at the end of 2009, according to the EBRI.

Signs of coming trouble are visible on several other fronts, too:

**        Mortgage Debt. Nearly two in three people age 55 to 64 had a mortgage in 2007, with a median debt of $85,000.

**        Social Security. Nearly 3 out of 4 people file to claim Social Security benefits as soon as they’re eligible at age 62. That locks them in at a much lower amount than they would get if they waited.

The monthly checks are about 25 percent less if you retire at 62 instead of full retirement age, which is 66 for those born from 1943 to 1954. If you wait until 70, your check can be 75 to 80 percent more than at 62. So, a boomer who claimed a $1,200 monthly benefit in 2008 at age 62 could have received about $2,000 by holding off until 70.

**        Medical Costs. Health care expenses are soaring, and the availability of retiree benefits is declining.

“People cannot fathom how much money will be needed to simply cover out-of-pocket medical care costs,” says Mitchell of the University of Pennsylvania.

A 55-year-old man with typical drug expenses needs to have about $187,000 just to cover future medical costs. That’s if he wants to be 90 percent certain to have enough money to supplement Medicare coverage in retirement, the EBRI said. Because of greater longevity, a 65-year-old woman would need even more to cover her health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket health expenses: an estimated $213,000.

**        Employment. Boomers both need and want to work longer than previous generations. But unemployment is near 10 percent, and many have lost their jobs.

The average unemployment period for those 55 and older was 45 weeks in November. That’s 12 weeks longer than for younger job-seekers. It’s also more than double the 20-week period this group faced at the beginning of the recession in December 2007.

If financial neglect turns out to be many boomers’ undoing, challenging circumstances are stymieing others.

Linda Reaves of Silver Spring, Md., never had much opportunity to save as a single mother raising two sons and a daughter. After holding a variety of positions over the years — hotel office manager, research analyst for a mortgage company, hospital mental health counselor — she was still living paycheck to paycheck. Then she was laid off in 2007 at the age of 57.  She entered a training program to learn new skills, but all she has found since is a string of temporary jobs. In her daily quest for clerical or administrative work, she competes against much younger applicants.  Reaves, who turns 60 this month, plans to work until she’s at least 70 and then wants to travel, even if she doesn’t know where the money will come from.  “I just keep going. I don’t really worry about it,” she says.

Add this all up, and there’s a “slow-burning” retirement crisis for boomers, says Anthony Webb, a research economist at the Center for Retirement Research.

“If you have a crisis where the adverse consequences are immediately clear, then people understand that they have to do something,” Webb says. “When the consequences will be felt 20 or 30 years in the future, the temptation is that we kick the can down the road.”  As a result, he believes many won’t change their behavior.

For less affluent boomers, it won’t take that long to feel the pain of poor planning. Concerns about financial trouble will hang over many of those 65th birthday celebrations in 2011.  Many seem to view their plight through rose-colored granny glasses. An AARP survey last month of boomers turning 65 next year found that they worry no more about money than they did at age 60 — before the recession or the collapse of home prices. But in an acknowledgement of reality, 40 percent said they plan to work “until I drop.”

Old School

Hello 2011

As we enter a new year and say goodbye to 2010,  we often wish we could turn over a new leaf or have a fresh start.  No doubt about it, there have been certain things we have said or done in this past year that we have come to regret.

Wouldn’t it be great to just start over again?  The new year is still a blank slate.  We haven’t lost our attitudes yet; we haven’t screwed up yet.  There are opportunities ahead of us.  We decide which paths we are going to walk in this coming year.  We decide what our priorities are going to be.  We decide which direction we are going to take, each and every day.

Jaime, JoAnne, and Dane (Dec 2010)

Maybe some of us need a fresh start in this coming year?  Here is a great opportunity to make new commitments.  We don’t know what the new year is going to bring.  We don’t know what problems we are going to encounter.  We don’t know what changes are going to come.  We don’t know what blessings are in store for us.  What a great opportunity to redefine our values, make rock solid commitments, and grow deeper roots in faith.

Here are some nuggets of wisdom to think about as we prepare to engage 2011:

People are just about as happy as they’re willing to be. — Abraham Lincoln

Don’t mistake pleasures for happiness. They’re a different breed of dog. — Josh Billings

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. — Eleanor Roosevelt

The problem with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat. — Lily Tomlin

Think about what you want people to say about you after you die and live backward. — Unknown

People won’t always remember what you say or do but they will remember how you made them feel. — Maya Angelou

When you’re in a hole, stop digging. — Unknown

Our life is frittered away by detail… Simplify, simplify. — Henry David Thoreau

Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today. — James Dean

We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give. — Unknown

We are what we repeatedly do. — Aristotle

The key to a better life: Complain less, appreciate more./ Whine less, laugh more. / Talk less, listen more. / Want less; give more. / Hate less, love more. / Scold less, praise more. / Fear less, hope more. — Unknown