Category Archives: A WORK IN PROGRESS

Believe In This Thing Called “The Universe”? Strange Things Happen In Chicago; Part 2

So the rational skeptical guy starts wondering about this thing called “The Universe”. People say (not me of course), that when you figure “it” out (whatever the hell “it” is), that “the universe” will start sending you signs that you are on the right track. Okey dokey people…Have you visited you astrologer for a palm reading lately, I thought…So how do you explain the bus and the United 93 thing within a week of each other? Blahhhh, mere coincidence, right? Come on folks, we went to college, let’s grow up. There is no Tooth Fairy and no Santa, sorry to rain on your parade. Jump forward a year or so.

Since I had the “Aha”, realizing clearly that I feel fulfilled and have a sense of purpose when I feel like I make a difference, I just started going out doing things that made me feel like I was making a difference. I started volunteering for boards, helping charities, and having a real interest in everything philanthropic. I felt for the first time that I was on the right track in life. Once in a while, these little “coincidences” would happen that made me realize I was doing what I was supposed to do.

Soon my business began to transition from just investment management, into one that was deeply focused on helping people figure out what’s really important to them, then helping them transition their finances toward their values. Before, it might have seemed touchy feeley, but having had these experiences, and also working with other folks who felt the same way I did, really gave me a fulfilled sense of purpose. Philanthropy became a much more important part of my practice and helping clients carry out significant gifts became extremely gratifying.

Chicago: Take Two
I discovered an organization called Advisors in Philanthropy which was made up of a diverse group of financial professionals who were committed to integrating philanthropy into their practices, just like me. I had become a member of the organization and signed up to attend their conference. The conference was to be held in Chicago. Great, I thought! I’ve been learning to love Chicago 🙂

As I got to Newark Airport early that morning, I decided I would treat myself to a shoe shine (something I don’t get to do much since I stopped commuting to NY daily). Jokingly, I said to the shoe shine guy, “Huh, I wonder what’s going to happen this time. Strange things always happen when I go to Chicago.” We laughed a little and I didn’t give it much more thought. After I tipped the guy, I went into the newsstand to get my gum and water for the flight. As I was paying, there was a book above the register that caught my attention, as it looked out of place and it also didn’t seem like they sold books here since it was such a small stand. I glanced at the title, “Beyond Success” it was called. Hmmm, sounds like something I might like to read I thought, I wonder who wrote it? I looked over at the author’s name and nearly fell out of my chair (or at least my place in line). Randall Ottinger! HOLY CRAP!!! HE”S SPEAKING AT THE CONFERENCE I”M GOING TO RIGHT NOW!!!” While that may not seem like a big coincidence, there were only about 200 or 300 people at this conference. What are the odds of that I thought! “Do you sell this book?”, I asked the woman at the register. “No, someone left it here”, she replied. HOLY DOUBLE CRAP!!! (sorry for the profanity but sometimes I just can’t help it). Now someone was playing with me, I thought. Must be that “universe” mumbo jumbo…”May I see the book?”, I asked. Now I will do away with the vulgarities since the rest of the story speaks for itself and you can fill in with your own if you like…

I took the book from the woman and opened it up. Inside the book was a page of hand written notes with a bunch of illegible things and some stock quotes. The only thing I was able to make out on the page said; “Chapter 21: Advisors in Philanthropy”. Now I could hardly contain myself. I told the woman my shock and disbelief and she just chuckled when I told her why I was so taken back. I handed her my business card and told her I was taking the book and if anyone came looking for it, she should give them my name and I would be happy to return it to them.

As I read the book, I couldn’t help think I was reading my life story. The book was about building a personal, financial, and philanthropic legacy and it dealt with the very same issues I began to adopt in my wealth management practice. It was amazing that I had been handed this book, on the way to this conference, dealing with the very same issues, higher purpose, blah, blah blah…I just couldn’t believe it and I couldn’t wait to tell Randy this story when I finally saw him in Chicago.

Telling Randy
As I tell Randy this unbelievable story, he just begins to shake his head. “That falls into one of those THINGS YOU CAN”T MAKE UP category”, we said to each other. Thinking we had just closed the chapter on a truly remarkable story, we went about our business and attended to the other conference matters.

The next day, Randy comes up to me and says, “Rich, you are NEVER going to believe this…I sit down at dinner last night and introduce myself to this guy and he looks at me and says OH, I BROUGHT A COPY OF YOUR BOOK FOR YOU TO SIGN, BUT I LOST IT AT THE AIRPORT…” Randy tells me he just looked at the guy and said “I know”. Kevin replies, “What do you mean YOU KNOW?” Randy says to Kevin, “Because that guy over there has your book”.

That’s how I met Kevin. This is a story I will never forget. I’m starting to think there might be something to this “Universe thing” after all. Oh, and by the way, Kevin and I are working with Randy in starting a new organization in NY called the Metro New York Philanthropic Advisor Network. You might just say “The Universe made me do it”. Check out my post: “The Good Apples: The Rise of the NY Philanthropic Advisor Network here.

Have to run now, I have an appointment with the tarot card reader…

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Re: Jabs at my fellow Social Entrepreneurs

In my previous post, I may not have conveyed all the things that I intended so let me set the record straight here.

First. I take no shots at social entrepreneurs actually doing things and I firmly believe that there are no right or wrong ways to give. Whether one chooses to write a check, or get their hands dirty, they should be applauded for actually taking an action. There are many examples of wonderful folks doing wonderful work as were highlighted in the comments left. I take issue when people have their head in the right place, but don’t actually don’t do anything. As for the folks who DON’T have their head in the right place to begin with, well those folks just don’t get it anyway and they aren’t the ones reading any of this stuff anyway.

I disagree that capitalism is the cause of the problem. The problem is deeply rooted in the fears we have to take chances on what we believe, even when there is a risk of failing, and doing what is right instead of accepted as convention. I also blame the financial system as a whole in creating an environment of mistrust and creating the very roadblocks of mistrust that keep those with big hearts from stepping forward and asking for help.

I don’t think we are all granola eating tree huggers at all. For one thing, I don’t even like granola all that much (actually I do like it, but don’t tell). Social entrepreneurism has enormous potential and continues to gain in popularity each day. If we want to not be viewed as the “tree hugging granola eaters”, we need to continue to take action based on what we believe, not just talk about it. We must follow the path of those who have succeed and get advice on how to make our dreams become realities. Despite the fact sometimes it appears that the entire financial industry is out to eat investors for lunch, there are fellow social entrepreneurs who care, and caring advisors who want to help you folks make a difference. From this side of the table though, I have seen far to many folks who are just interested in making their portfolios a big as possible, not happy with their life, and wondering why in the world their financial success hasn’t translated into true happiness. For those of you who actually do something (and there are many), thanks for caring AND doing something. Those of you who want to create great things with your wealth can come to the front of the line, the rest can take a number.

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You Call Yourself a Social Entrepreneur? I Have A Dream-Begin Rant

Frankly, I’m a little sick and tired of hearing about social entrepreneurs. Generally speaking, we as a community do a good deal of talking about helping others, but at the end of the day there are too few people stepping up and actually doing anything concrete. Now that we’re deep in the throws of an economic downturn, people like Thomas Friedman of the NY Times are asking questions like “Does the economic downturn spell the end of the green movement?” What do you think? I love Tom Friedman and I don’t believe that the economic environment will be more than a blip on the socially conscious movement in the long run. It’s a great question and one that will sell lots of books and attention though. Nice one again Tom, love ya.

Back to my rant though…What’s the deal people? What the hell is a “socially conscious” movement anyway? Perhaps “movement” IS the right word as in “crap“. Are we all full of it? Perhaps we should call it a “socially UNconscious” movement. I mean, really, what is social entrepreneurship anyway? What’s a social enterprise? Is social entrepreneur a state of mind, like insanity? Are we just a bunch of granola eating, tree hugging folks who light candles, sing songs, do yoga, buy cage free eggs, listen to U2, and complain that corporations make too much money? I’ll tell you one thing, I am not one of those people. Greed IS good AND, GREEN is GOOD. CSR is GOOD. Intention…, is good. Action…., that’s a different story. Actions speak much more loudly than words. People, let me say something. In my opinion and experience so far, I’ve see way too much talk of doing, and not enough doing. Now that I think about it though, Tom Friedman might be onto something here. Perhaps the economic downturn is the end of this social entrepreneurship movement. Why? People are afraid. As a wealth manager, I can tell you that fear of loss is the number one concern of the wealthy. No matter how much money you have, fear continues to be a major concern among people. While the prospect of going bankrupt might not be a concern, there’s a very real possibility that one’s lifestyle could be altered. When it comes to emotions, many people view change as a win/lose proposition. If I don’t have to alter my lifestyle, I win. If I am forced to change the way I live, I lose. I would tend to agree with that assessment. I absolutely hate change. Before I had surgery, moving used to be my least favorite thing in the world. When change happens, and it isn’t on your terms, change sucks, excuse my French.

Robert Kiyosaki, author of the best selling book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” said something I have always liked. He said that his definition of “wealthy”, was “the ability to continue to pay yourself if you decide to stop working”, or something close to that. Some have described this scenario as “escaping the rat race”, or being “financially independent”. In reality, I think my friend Randy Ottinger of LMR Advisors in Seattle said it best in his book, “Beyond Success: Building a Personal, Financial, and Philanthropic Legacy” McGraw Hill 2008. Randy interviewed some of top minds in business and philanthropy including Bill Gates, Sr., Jeff Brotman of Costco, and Sandy Weill, former Chairman of Citigroup. Randy discusses the concept of a moving “Wealth Divide”. This divide is the concept of the conversation around the question “How much is enough?” We as human beings are hunter gatherers and are wired to want more and accumulate for those long winter months (like the current economic winter we’re in now) . Call it “keeping up with the Jones’s”, call it whatever you like. The fact remains, that we all have these fears about coming to the Wealth Divide, looking across, making the leap, and falling flat on our face. Until we recognize that this Wealth Divide is a moving target for many people, and come to understand that money and wealth do not make us happy, we will continue to live in fear that we will lose what we have. The net result of this fear is that our social entrepreneurial “movement” will continue to be just talk, eventually be flushed down the pages of history by free market capitalism (which is really working well at the moment isn’t it?), dismissed as another promising social experiment gone awry.

“My social entrepreneurial friends”, (can I pull a McCain here?) let me speak honestly with you for a moment as someone who has a little experience in this whole wealth management thing and understands a little thing about this whole planning and economic situation we are in. This is an intervention. I’m doing this because I love you and because you are sick. If you’ve ever watched the television show, “Intervention” on A&E, the main interventionist’s (is that a word?) name is Jeff VanVonderen and he is blatantly blunt with folks who are at rock bottom. Addicts don’t like change, but then he asks “How’s that workin for you?”. Usually the answer is, “not so good, right?” Are you happy? Are you truly doing what you want to be doing? Are you talking about social entrepreneurship, saying “someday I’ll do that”, or “I’m not smart enough”, or “I don’t have time for that”. If you are, let me ask you, “how’s that workin for ya?” You want to change? You want to do something good for this world? STOP SAYING SOMETIME, SOMEDAY. Understand you will never have enough money to make you happy and that happiness comes from DOING, not HAVING. Money is just a means to an end, not the end itself. Happiness comes from pursuing dreams and goals and things that seem crazy. If you doubt me, visit my friend Gail Lynne Goodwin’s site and read about her “Global Hugs Tour”. You think she’s happy?

This is YOUR intervention. FLASH!

Tomorrow, you visit your doctor and he tells you that you have a rare medical condition and that you only have 6 months to live. First assignment, right now, write your own eulogy. Take 30 seconds and think about what you want people to say about you as they put you into the ground…Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Great, are you living life that way now or are there any things that are left undone in your life that you would want to resolve before they cover you with 6 feet of dirt? While you may have created a lot of money in business and been a great entrepreneur, how about your family? Might you want to spend more time with them before you die? Than why aren’t you doing it now? What is the purpose of your work? Is it to provide? How much? When does more time with the family come? Where does the volunteering ever happen? When does “retirement” happen for you? Oh, so you’re one of those who will never retire cause you don’t want to be bored out of your mind and have your brain turn to mush watching TV shows on Hulu huh? So you work cause you don’t want to be bored huh? Sounds like fear to me? Fear of, say,…. loss of purpose? Ringing a bell anyone? I’ll ask you again, are you happy? How’s that fear thing workin for ya? Any family stress because Daddy is never home and always stressed when he is? That’s not you right? Perhaps watching The Last Lecture again is what you folks need.

My “budding social entrepreneurial friends”, this is YOUR intervention. I had a dream. That dream was helping to turn successful business owners into social entrepreneurs. So far, this has been just a dream because while I’m here, you are still there with your talk, talk, talk. If any of you have been “successful” in your “day job” and actually wish to do something with your life greater than earning a profit, let me know. I don’t work miracles, but more than likely, I can help design and manage the financial extrication strategy that you are fearing and keeping you living in your unfulfilled, profit motivated, life of “sometime, someday” I’ll have enough. Today is the day. END RANT/ END INTERVENTION DO YOU FOLLOW ME?

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Why is Matt Harding Dancing?

By now, there is a descent chance you have seen “Dancing”, created by Matt Harding. It’s interesting that over 10 million views of the clip have been watched in the short time it has been available. Seemingly if impacts everyone who watches it a little differently. After all, it’s just a guy dancing around the world. I thought the video was symbolic of breaking free of boundaries of what’s possible and having people celebrate the joy of freedom. What did you think?

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Tune In To Hear Me Interviewed On The “E-Factor”- Tuesday, March 18th, Noon Eastern Time

I’m about to be interviewed on the E-Factor. I invite you to listen in and be part of it! The date will be next Tuesday, March 18th, at noon, Eastern Time (11:00 AM Central, 10:00 AM Mountain, 9:00 AM Pacific). Read below to find out more.

E-Factor is the popular bi-weekly, 60-minute conference call show, which explores the mindset of success, and the people who make success a reality. These are ordinary people from all walks of life, who do extraordinary things. They have become masters at who they are, what they do, and on this show, these remarkable people share their inspirational stories and secrets to help you create success in your own life.

E is for energy – the Energy of Success.

NEXT ON THE E-FACTOR: TUESDAY, MARCH 18TH

Personal Wealth: (an interview with Personal Chief Financial Officer and Coach, Rich Krasney)

For some, insight comes from overcoming a tragedy, or some other monumental life event that causes them to see life differently than they had before. For Rich Krasney, it came from reading a book.

About a year ago, this Personal Chief Financial Officer and Coach for a select group of business owners and entrepreneurs read Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich”, and experienced an “Aha” moment, seeing his life purpose clearly for the first time. 

He realized that money is simply a means to an end, and as a result he now delivers his message of “How Money Can Buy Happiness: Balancing Life and Wealth” to audiences (including the Napoleon Hill Foundation, itself). Additionally, Rich is currently in the midst of developing “A Work in Progress”, a documentary exploring how one person can make a difference, and the creation of a new charity.

Dial in to the E-Factor on Tuesday, March 18th to hear why Rich now sees inspirational messages everywhere, and how in being of earnest service to others, you best serve yourself. 

Go to http://www.the-efactor.com/ to register for the call!

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A Work in Progress-Life Stories and Lessons of Success

This is a test that will serve as a witness to what happens when the seed of an idea gets planted and watered. How big will it grow? Who knows. Watch. Check back. Stay tuned. Read on.

I’ve decided to start this diary to keep track of what is happening and to document my thoughts as I go through this process from the point of breakthrough to what happens next.

Background

I’ve learned that education is critical if you want to get ahead. I’m not speaking about traditional schooling, but knowing where to get the knowledge when you need it. The key to knowledge is in asking the right questions in the first place. The right questions will lead you on the path to the answers you seek. In my case, the questions that I have asked have revolved around “what’s my purpose”, “what’s next?”. Go to the self help section of your local library or Barnes and Noble and you will have much to choose from. Over the years, many books have been written on the subject of self help, however few have stood the test of time like Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. I read the book a few months ago and something in me just clicked. A light-bulb turned on.

Think and Grow Rich was written in 1937 by Napoleon Hill, a journalist who was invited by Andrew Carnegie to spend 20 or more years documenting “the secret” Carnegie success formula to take to the masses of people interested to learn how success and wealth are created. It was Carnegie’s opinion that if this information was made available to the masses and taught in schools, that the amount of time spent learning could be cut in half. It has been reported that over 100 million copies of Think and Grow Rich have been published in one form or another over the years. That fact alone is worth noting. They must have had something interesting to say to sell 100 million books right?

All achievement, all earned riches, have their beginning in and idea! If you are ready for the secret, you already possess one half of it; therefore you will readily recognize the other have the moment it reaches your mind.”-Napoleon Hill 1937

I was ready. I don’t know why I was ready just then, but I was. It’s funny how certain events line up in just the right order where you see them a certain way. If events had come together in any other order, you would likely see them in a much different way. I suppose that certain events happen in ones life and you just become open to seeing things differently, perhaps understanding how we all color the world through our own shades of perception. In any case, I was ready.

Lesson one-Education of Self

Being ready is about leveling with yourself and being honest about your own strengths and weaknesses and not selling yourself short with excuses. Most of us go through life telling ourselves little lies like “I could do that whenever I want”, or “I don’t have time for that now”, “It’s really not that important”. That is lying to yourself. We do this as a defense mechanism to mentally protect ourselves from being hurt. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize that this defense mechanism is keeping us from what we truly desire in life. The key to getting past this hurdle is recognizing and catching yourself in the act of making excuses for yourself.

Being open to recognizing when your inner voice is talking to you is the starting point. It was the point I needed to be in order to be able to implement the lessons being taught. For me, Think and Grow Rich represented a manual for how to guide an awakened mind.

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The Secret of “The Secet”- Connecting the Dots

By now, it’s no secret that “The Secret” has struck a nerve with both fans and critics alike.  The Secret’s message of “The Law of Attraction” is that everything you attract into your life is the result of what you put out into the world.  If you subscribe to Rhonda Byrne’s “purist” view, you believe that EVERYTHING including health, relationships, success, your father’s drinking habit, and the color of the eyes on the Mona Lisa are within within your realm of control. How could the color of the eyes of the Mona Lisa be in your control? I don’t believe that The Secret did a good job of explaining HOW you could possibly be in control of everything in the universe and that a good deal of the controversy comes from people wanting to know how you connect those dots.

I’m from Missouri (not really), so “show me”. I like to know how to connect the dots. I also like to figure out how to connect the dots for myself. One of the positive messages in many of these types of works is that you can have ANYTHING and EVERYTHING in your life that you wish, you just need to be committed to having it. Pehaps it would be better to not use absolute words like “anything, everything, never, always”. Didn’t your mother tell you to never say “never”? How about we rewrite the above statement to read: “You can GENERALLY have anything you want in your life”. Better? Critics would say yes. Marketers are screaming right about now. When we tone down the message with the word generally, doesn’t the message lose something? Are you inspired to take action when when the coach tells you that we have a pretty good shot at beating this team, however the opposing team’s undefeated record leaves some amount of mental doubt as to our chances? Do you want a that coach or do you want the coach who tells you that “you have already won and that because you have already won, the othe team doesen’t have a chance in hell of beating us today! You ARE champions!”

In my wealth management practice, I tell people that they can have whatever they want in their life.  In order to have what you want, we need to have a plan on how to get from point A to point B; you need to connect the dots so to speak. Frequently in life, people sell themselves short on their dreams, visions, and goals because of limiting assumptions that we have. “I’m too old for that, I don’t have the time, I don’t know the first thing about that, I would but, I could but, I should but”.  You CAN do that, you just have not made it a priority. Where there is a will there’s a way? Ever heard that? Our objective then becomes to figure out what it is that we truly want, and understand all of the limiting assumptions and excuses that are preventing us from attaining what we want, then create the roadmap to achieving those goals. 

Can you have ANYTHING you want? Can I be 25 again? I’m not sure. Frankly, to believe that life is completely within my control is much more empowering than feeling like i’m not in control. My greatest accomplishments in life have come from persistence and not giving up when people said it can be done. It’s done. That’s the Secret 🙂

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