Tag Archives: Law of Attraction

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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Barack Obama Inauguration: I Had a Dream (and it came true)

girlskitesmallMy first memory is when I was 5 years old. I went to the beach with my father, and for a long time we ran back and forth trying to get a kite to fly. After a while, my father said, “Son, I don’t think there’s enough wind to fly the kite today.” Undeterred as a stubborn 5 year old is, I continued running back and forth trying to get the kite to fly. Eventually, the kite took to the sky. I never forgot the lesson.

Our parents always told us that we can do or be anything we want when we grow up. Somewhere along the way though, something happens, we become reasonable, allowing our sense of what’s possible become influenced by other people and we lose our ability to dream and confidence that we can do anything.

The American Dream: Get a good job, get married, have 2.5 kids, get a dog, build a 401(k), become successful. But what is a good job? What is success? What is happiness? Many of us take the safe and predictable route in life, doing things that others thing we should do and what we think they expect us to.

We’ve all heard the stories of people who suddenly “wake up and figure out what’s important in life”. Many times these stories come from someone who has had a near death experience or some kind of traumatic event. As the “rational guy”, I never quite understood what it was that they figured out, but glad that they had learned a valuable lesson from such a tragedy. Frankly, I never really gave these kinds of things much thought.  When I had my “Aha”, life changed. I was lucky; I didn’t go through any kind of traumatic experience. I was open minded at the right time.

For the first time, I perceived the world in three distinct groups.  1) There were the people who “got it” 2) The people who were “open and looking for it” 3) The people who were just going through life and existing. The “It” I’m referring to is “what’s important in life”, or the meaning of life and secret to happiness.  For the first time in my life, I realized that making a difference makes me feel fulfilled. The first group, (the ones who “got it”) seemed to say, “Welcome, we’ve been expecting you.” Follow your passions and your dreams and the most amazing things will happen.

Perhaps, “You can do anything you set your mind to”  is a dangerous thing for a 5 year old thing to learn, or perhaps we should all try to live more like the stubborn 5 year old that is in each of us. I started flying kites again, literally and figuratively.

Today, as we witness the magnitude of the moment of the first African American President of the United States be inaugurated, let us remember that greatness begins with dreams and we need to have the courage and conviction to make the dreams come true no matter how difficult the journey. Dreams are where greatness begin.

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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?



Power of 10 “acity” -Experiences of a Game Show Contestant

I Want to be a Game Show Contestant
One day my wife came to me and told me that she wanted to apply to be on a game show called “Power of 10”, a new show hosted by Drew Carey on CBS. I told her that it sounded like a fun idea and encouraged her to go for it if she really was serious. As part of the audition process, she was required to submit a three minute video of herself asking what she would do if she won $10 million dollars, and answer a test question; “What % of Americans think they are smarter than George W. Bush?” We had fun making the video and I spent several hours editing down the best parts of what we had taped. We sent the tape in and didn’t expect to hear anything else.

Several weeks went by when my wife received a voicemail message saying that the production team was interested in speaking to her to ask more questions. Naturally, we became excited at the prospect that she could actually be chosen to be a contestant. Having been the one who made the audition video, I felt reassured that my talent in filming and creative eye for editing was now being appreciated at a “higher level” and that in no time, the academy would be taking notice.

Weeks passed before we heard anything else. Having had a call back from the show, we were excited at the prospect that this could really be a possibility. “Do you think they were really interested?”, we asked each other.  Then more calls came with more questions. One day the phone rang. “You are going to be a Power of 10 contestant” they said. We were brimming with excitement and could not believe that she was picked. We wondered how many other people she beat out to win this opportunity. This was really starting to become fun. The next step was for the casting department to decide who would be chosen as Robin’s supporter. I applied for the job, but so did other friends and family members. I reminded the department that I made the video and hopefully my “warm and bubbly” personality showed. After a few days, I got the call. We would both be there together! Now we had to prepare.

Since Power of 10 was a new show, there were not that many questions that had been released, so we were trying to read deeply into every single one that had been asked to see if there was a pattern developing in the way poll questions were being answered by “the average American”. Every time I seemed to be on a winning streak with the practice questions, another one would come along and I would be way off the right answer. “This is going to be interesting”, I thought.

I had been chosen as my wife’s “supporter” and would be there to assist her on every question if she got past the pre-game money elimination round against her opponent.

“Show Time”
The day of taping had come. We were scheduled to be picked up at 10am in a limo at our home. 10am came, 10:10, 10:15. We called the production company to check to see if something was wrong. We agonized at the prospect of having come this far, only to have our ride not show up and miss our chance. 10:20, 10:30, 10:35 our car showed up! In the car, we ran into bumper-to-bumper traffic going through Manhattan on our way to Astoria, Queens. On the ride there, we talked about the point at which we would take the money and walk away. I suggested that as my wife’s “financial adviser” I would insist on walking away at $100,000 (unless of course we decided to go for it). Some supporter huh? What would we do with the money if it was $100,000 versus going for $1 Million? “How would our life be different”, we asked each other.

We arrived at Kaufman Astoria Studios in Astoria, Queens and met the casting and production people whom we had spoken at length by phone. For legal reasons, the “supporters” are segregated from the “contestants” for the entire day until the taping is complete, so most of the day was sitting around talking to the other “supporters” about life, this opportunity, and whether we wanted to play the Scrabble game that was sitting in the room.

Later in the morning we were taken from the “Green Room” (which isn’t green at all, more safari color, but soothing none the less) down to the set to meet the Executive Producers and hear about the process, what to do, and what not to do. After about half an hour, back to the green/safari room. More waiting around.

Make-up time. Turns out that these Hollywood makeup people are good, who knew? They managed to cover up that enormous pimple (don’t you just hate hearing that word?) that had developed the day before with ease. More sitting around waiting. “Richard, you’re up…”

I was taken down the elevator and back to the set to get mic’ed up. I met the brother of the other contestant who was playing the supporter role of the contestant playing against my wife. Nice kid, in school and playing with his brother. We wished each other luck. Lara Spencer from CBS’s “Insider” walked right past us and said hello. Pictures of the Sesame Street characters lined the hall since Kaufman Astoria Studios was also the home of the Sesame Street set. I jokingly asked if anyone had any connections with Elmo’s agent to get my girls a meeting with him, Mr. Noodle, and Dorothy. Unfortunately, Sesame Street was on break and a meeting would not happen. “Show Time!”

We were both taken into the studio where the set was filled with hundreds of audience members. Just hours before, the set was silent, not now. My heart raced with anticipation and excitement. “I really hope she wins”, I thought to myself.

Lights, Camera, Action! My wife and her opponent, Daniel walked up the ramp onto the stage with Drew Carey. “Welcome to the Power of 10, I’m the host, Drew Carey”.
Drew Cary asks Robin, “So is it true your husband picked you up in a U-Haul on your first date?” That is true, but, with good reason, I thought. “How would I respond when I got up there to say what really happened”, I thought. It really was a great story, but what would happen if she didn’t win and the world remembers me for the guy who picked his wife up in a moving truck on their first date. As I thought about this scenario, one of the questions they answered turned out to be “What % of Americans think a movie is a better first date than dinner”? How about moving, I thought…Back and forth the questions went, Daniel scored first, Robin the next two right…One more and we’re playing for the money! The score was 2-2, next one plays for the money…”What % of Americans have been fingerprinted?” My wife had to be fingerprinted because of her job working with kids. Would this influence her answer? The answers were locked in and the “answer meter” starting rolling around up and down. Eventually it landed closer to Daniel’s answer than Robin’s. That was it for us. Our journey was over, almost.

Game Over
I never thought about how disappointed someone could potentially be in this scenario, but in reality, the disappointment was truly palpable. Most people have no idea what it feels like to have $10 million dollars right there for the taking, then have it ripped away from you in a flash. The months of leading up to this show was so exciting and now it was gone. It was very tempting, and at times, did feel a real sense of failure. I should have answered this way instead, I should have paid closer attention to this or that. Robin was the contestant, and I could only imagine what she was thinking. I knew how much she wanted this and how upset she looked afterward. We were both taken off stage, back upstairs to to another “safari green” room where other contestants who had already gone were released. Most people had the same feelings that we did. We reminisced about what could have been, and talked about our real lives.

Lessons from a “Loser”
Since some of the shows have not aired, I can’t talk specifics, however speaking to other “losers”, like us, we realized how lucky we really are to have everything that we do in life. If we learned anything, it’s that “Loser” is a state of mind and nothing else. We have two healthy children, a home and roof over our head, we shop at Costco, and we eat sushi whenever we feel the urge. To think about this experience as losing would be to negate all the things mentioned above, plus the fact that “What % of Americans actually succeed in getting on a game show?”We are “winner’s” in every sense of the word. Somtimes, we need a dose of reality to wake us up to realize how lucky we are to live in a country that provided such an opportunity to us, and that we should be grateful that we have the opportunity to get up and decide what we want to do with our day, any day of the week. Be greatful every day for what you have today because you don’t know what tomorrow brings.  

Seeing Upside Down
As I sat there still feeling quite disappointed, I thought to myself, “How can I make something good out of this?” A while back, now friend, Martin Dunkerton inspired me to make a movie about personal achievement. The movie is coming together. What if we could use this experience losing as a segment about overcoming adversity in the film?  What if we could get the people involved in Power of 10 to talk about the long road of failures that they had on their road to success? Our loss could potentially turn into something positive. I contemplated, even though she was the one who lost on television, we basically do everything together so the loss was shared. I’m her biggest supporter on air and off. Supporter means helping the other see things that might not be apparent at the time.

Who knows if any of this will come together, but if I have learned anything, it’s that being positive is more fun than thinking like a loser. Out of adversity, your greatest opportunity may be staring you right in the face. Stand where you are, see things right side up. Life doesn’t come with an instruction manual and some assembley is required. Have a great day!


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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.


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.



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 🙂



A New York Minute

richphoto.jpgSomething surreal happened to me yesterday.

Yesterday I met one of my clients for lunch in NYC. Leaving Penn Station, we walked in an expanded pedestrian walkway that had been created on seventh ave. Since the sidewalk was on the actual roadway, I was a bit nervous, thinking of the occasional stories one hears about out of control cars in Manhattan hitting pedestrians. Sometimes I think my inside voice should be named “Nervous Nelly”.

During lunch, I talked about my awakening with Think and Grow Rich and living life purposefully. I told her that you could find out you have 6 months to live, or walk out the door and get hit by a bus. Why not live passionately today? After a lovely lunch, we began to walk back toward Penn Station, looking for a bookstore where she could get a copy of Think and Grow Rich. Shortly after leaving the restaurant, we witnessed a man get hit by a bus. People were visibly upset, as were we, having just discussed the possibility that that could have been us.

Live every day as if it were your last. Tomorrow you could get hit by a bus and never have lived a fulfilled life. Be grateful for what you have. Reflect. Life is short. Live large, because life can end in a New York Minute.

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