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Honesty Is The Best Policy

May 2011: A recent study published in the journal, Personality and Individual Differences, shows that honesty and humility in employees are good predictors of them receiving high ratings by their supervisors. Check out a summary of the research here. “The Baylor researchers found that those who self-reported more honesty and humility were scored significantly higher by their supervisors for their job performance. The researchers defined honesty and humility as those who exhibit high levels of fairness, greed-avoidance, sincerity and modesty.”  

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May 20, 2011 1:46 pm
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Psychologically Healthy Workplace

May 2011: A recent survey completed by the American Psychological Association on “Stress in America” (reported in the May 2011 Monitor on Psychology) found that while 69% of employees report being satisfied with their jobs overall, only 46% of employees state they are satisfied with the recognition practices of their employer. “Creating a psychologically healthy workplace is good for employees and business results,” says Norman B. Anderson, PhD, chief executive officer of the American Psychological Association. “This is a growing trend and it is our hope that all organizations will eventually have some type of psychologically healthy workplace program.”

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May 2, 2011 3:26 pm
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Charities’ Contributions Down

January 2011: Charitable contributions were down at least 10% in 2010, according to the Chronicles of Philanthropy.  Non-profit organizations are having to reduce staff members due to lack of funding.  As a result, staff members are having to “do more with less” resources.

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January 15, 2011 9:45 am
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Wal-Mart Appreciation Plan

December 2010:  Wal-Mart has implemented a plan to show appreciation to their team members.  According to the NY Times, Wal-Mart has rolled out a new program called “Associates Out in Front” which they described as a  way for Wal-Mart to show workers “that we do appreciate you and that we have an ongoing commitment to listening to and addressing your concerns.””

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January 3, 2011 10:37 pm
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“Doing Good” While Making Money

There is an increasing emphasis on the inter-relatedness between the process of making money (whether through active business activities or through investments) and also having a positive impact on one’s community (either at the local, national or global level). The focus, along with developing opportunities, applies to individuals and families, small businesses, corporations, and family foundations. Let me share with you some recent developments from a variety of social arenas, and also resources available, if you are interested in finding out more. At the corporate and business level. This past week Indra Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo, shared her thoughts... Continue reading...

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February 1, 2010 7:11 am
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Integrating Philanthropy into Daily Life

This past weekend I had the privilege of helping facilitate a board meeting for a family foundation. One of the goals of the meeting was to begin to more fully integrate the next generation (currently twentysomethings) into the foundation’s activities and financial giving over the coming years. Part of the process included looking at philanthropy through the lens of daily life, rather than conceptualizing it as just large financial gifts given to non-profit organizations. Here are a few thoughts from that process. A reminder that philanthropy comes from the Greek words phileo (practical love) and anthropos (meaning man or mankind).... Continue reading...

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October 19, 2009 10:24 am
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The Current Financial Crisis — Dealing with Reality

There is plenty being written about the current financial crisis and, like the political elections this past fall, it is easy to become overloaded with information.  Obviously, there are a lot of opinions about what has happened, who is at fault, and what should be done.  Some of the comments are driven by philosophical beliefs (for example, about macroeconomics), some by political beliefs, and less seemingly by looking at the data in longer term historical perspective. One interesting voice in the milieu is Peter Schiff, who has a video on YouTube with over 1 million hits, where he predicted the... Continue reading...

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February 1, 2009 9:29 pm
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Learning about Marketing — and Community

I want to write about some things I have been learning about “marketing” but I don’t know how to frame the issue and information in a way that doesn’t turn people off. That, historically, has been my reaction to “marketing” — makes me think of either high-dollar, high-glitz Madison avenue advertising campaigns or a slick (possibly slimey), fast-talking guy who gives you tips on how to sell people services or goods they don’t need and don’t really want. (My apologies to my marketing consultants who are wonderful, warm people that don’t come anywhere near close to this description.) But this... Continue reading...

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September 16, 2008 9:54 am
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Lessons We Can Learn From Rainy Days

August in the Midwest is usually the “dog days of summer” — hot, intense sun, and humid.  It is uncomfortable and physically draining.  But we have had some unusual weather this past week — cool and rainy. Three solid days of rain, in fact, in a time of year that we don’t expect it. So, as a result, I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on rainy days, how they represent other aspects of our lives, and what we can learn from them. We are not in control of everything. There are obviously aspects of our lives that we do not... Continue reading...

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August 10, 2008 6:14 pm
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On Vacation with My Family

Friends, after attending my son’s graduation (Nathan) from graduate school in Birmingham, AL last week, my wife, four children and I are on vacation this week in Florida. I am resting my brain up and will be writing again, either later this week or early next week. I hope you all are safe and well. Warmly, Paul

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May 21, 2008 12:43 pm
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A Personal Story: “Dr. Nature” Saves a Duck’s Life

This post has nothing to do with anything of educational value. It is just an interesting personal experience I wanted to share. Last night I went for a run (the term “run” is used loosely). It was a beautiful Spring evening, about 70 degrees, calm and the sun was setting. I turned out of my driveway and jogged up the dirt, country road we live on. Our dog, Brownie, who is now 12 years old, chose to watch me from the driveway rather than come with me as she used to do. About a quarter mile up the road there... Continue reading...

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April 30, 2008 4:45 am
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Sidelined by the Flu

Friends, I was hit with a flu bug this weekend, which put me out of commission for about 36 hours (I hope that is the extent of it). So I am going to pass on writing this week. Paul

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April 28, 2008 4:47 am
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The Dark Side of Wealth: Risks associated with growing up in an affluent family – Risk #3: Low self-esteem

The third theme I have observed in financially successful families is that many of their children and grandchildren struggle with poor self-esteem and low self-confidence.  Now let’s get this straight from the beginning — although I am a psychologist, I do not believe that feeling good about oneself is the goal of life (nor of parenting or education).  Self-esteem (that is, having a positive view of one’s self) is not a goal, it is a result of other good things in your life.  Self-esteem is not global; it is situation specific and is the result of being competent.  As we develop competencies... Continue reading...

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October 21, 2007 12:01 pm
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Psychological and Perceptual Issues that Impact Investment Decisions: Part II

Two weeks ago I shared some thoughts from the very interesting book, Inside the Investor’s Brain, by Dr. Richard Peterson. Here are some more of his insights. Some of the initial parts (e.g. feelings) are fairly self-evident but are necessary foundations for later comments and conclusions. [reminder: page numbers are in parens] Feelings Feelings are the result of the comparison of one’s expectations and the actual experience. So when one expects a positive event (gains in one’s investments) and this happens, there is a positive response (elation). When you expect a positive event and the event doesn’t occur, a negative... Continue reading...

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August 25, 2007 2:33 pm
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How Psychological Factors & Emotional Intelligence Impact Investment Decision-Making

I’m on vacation this week — and when I’m on vacation (after the first few days of brainless activity), I dive in to books I have had in my reading pile for a while.  One of the books I brought, Inside the Investor’s Brain: The Power of Mind over Money by Richard Peterson, (published just this year) is quite interesting.  And I’d like to share some of the thoughts from the book with you all. First off, Dr. Peterson is an associate editor at the Journal of Behavioral Finance, is a psychiatrist, a former stock trader and did postgraduate research at Stanford... Continue reading...

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August 10, 2007 6:36 am
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How ADHD Characteristics Impact Work Performance (Positively and Negatively)

Individuals with ADHD can find that their ADHD has both negative and positive impact on their work.  It is important for employers who know that some of their employees are ADHD not to make sweeping generalizations about individuals with ADHD.  This is because, as we have discussed previously, ADHD workers will display a wide range of behaviors (because some ADHD traits fit some people and not others). Some common behaviors seen in the workplace for employees (or bosses!) with ADHD include:    *struggling to sit calmly during meetings    *getting agitated if they have to sit for a long time   ... Continue reading...

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April 30, 2007 5:29 am
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Adult ADD / ADHD: Myth, Excuse, or Reality?

I am going to post a three-part series on Adult ADD / ADHD. The first deals with understanding what ADD / ADHD really is. The second takes a look at the issue of overdiagnosis. The third discusses the impact of ADHD characteristics in the workplace. ADULT ADD / ADHD: MYTH, EXCUSE, OR REALITY? Adult ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) is one of those terms that elicits a variety of reactions from people. Some laugh with a derisive tone. Others eyes brighten as if you understand them. Many have that puzzled, quizzical look demonstrating their lack of knowledge of the condition. Clarifying... Continue reading...

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April 17, 2007 8:02 pm
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Learning from Spring: Lessons for Business and Life

Spring is a fascinating time of year. New growth. Delicate flowers and flowering trees. Longer days. The return of wildlife and insects (I saw three different types of swallowtail butterflies on our lilac bush this week!) And unpredictable weather. Growing up in Kansas, I never understood what the “big deal” was about Spring. Spring in Kansas consists of warmer days, some flowers and the greening of the grass. But it also includes blustery, windy days; and teasing warm days followed by cold snaps (just this week we had a late spring snowstorm which dumped four inches of snow on our... Continue reading...

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April 7, 2007 11:11 am
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What is a “Good Work Ethic”, really?

One of the most common statements I hear from families with whom I work is: “We just want our kids and grandchildren to develop a good work ethic.” This is sometimes in the context of discussing their wealth transfer plan, and they don’t want to leave their heirs so much money that it interferes in their developing foundational character qualities. Sometimes the comment is in the midst of business succession planning and the parents are stating that it doesn’t matter to them whether or not their kids work in the business, but they want them to work somewhere. Or sometimes... Continue reading...

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March 19, 2007 8:55 am
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Teaching Young People How to “Work” — A Countercultural Practice

The topic of “work” has been in many of my discussions recently. It is the time of the year when parents and their student-children (especially high school and college aged) are discussing plans for this coming summer. And, in my house at least, the topic of work is part of that discussion. But, additionally, many families with whom I work are consistently asking: “How do we develop a ‘work ethic’ in our kids?” or “How do we keep our children from developing a sense of entitlement, given our financial situation?” In fact, this is a common topic in the financial... Continue reading...

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March 5, 2007 6:58 am
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Let’s Have Some Fun! Life is Too Short to Not Enjoy What You Do

Boy, my entries have been pretty heavy recently. Being truthful, I’m glad we’re through with the leadership articles. Good info, but a bit weighty. So, let’s have some fun. In fact, let’s talk about how to have fun in our daily work. An ancient Hebrew saying states: “A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their work.” Sounds great. But how? Most of us are tired and stressed, often feel overwhelmed and, as a result, we can become farily grumpy. First, look at your life and take a moment to be thankful. Yes,... Continue reading...

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February 25, 2007 8:02 pm
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Family Issues to Address in Transferring the Business to the Next Generation

In my working with a variety of family businesses, one of the key issues to address is to develop a succession plan for the ownership of the business. That is, who will own the business in the future (and when, and how will this occur)? Obviously, the current owners want to receive fair financial remuneration and they usually want to ensure the ongoing health of the company, given that payments are set up over time. In addition to the financial and business aspects, there are numerous family and relational issues which need to be addressed, as well. These include: *... Continue reading...

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January 13, 2007 11:27 am
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Complaining Business Owners & One of my favorite books

As I work with more and more business owners, as well as meet over lunch with friends who live in the business world, an increasing complaint I hear is the inability to find good quality employees. I have heard the following statements recently: I am amazed at the poor quality of people who are applying for jobs. I can’t find anyone who actually wants to work. I would like to find someone who understands financial statements, can use Excel, and that I don’t have to sit with to walk through projects one step at a time. Most of the people... Continue reading...

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January 8, 2007 2:18 pm
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Christmas Gift Giving Can Be Character Training

Believe it or not, your approach to buying and giving gifts for Christmas can have a significant impact in the character development of your children and grandchildren. For wealthier families, I believe the gift giving process can affect how well the wealth transfer process in your family goes in the future. (However, the principles are applicable no matter the financial status of the family – the issues are true for lower income, middle income and wealthy families). Essentially, ife is made up of two types of events: *Small daily life patterns and habits *Larger decisions and events (which often have... Continue reading...

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December 12, 2006 10:36 am
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Thanksgiving is Actually Healthy for You: The Benefits of Gratitude

With the Thanksgiving holiday upon us, there are numerous columns and articles discussing various aspects of the holiday. I would like to take the opportunity to bring attention to the overall benefits to our lives of having a thankful attitude. In his bestselling book, What Happy Know, Dr. Dan Baker (who is the director of the well-known treatment program at Canyon Ranch in Arizona) states that appreciation is the single most important tool in developing an enjoyable life. Additionally, social scientists who have studied the impact of stress on our lives cite a mental attitude of thankfulness as one of... Continue reading...

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November 20, 2006 10:42 am
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Data before Decisions: Common Quagmires People Get Entrapped In

Recently, I have been consulting with a variety of executives, family members, and family business owners – all in different circumstances. But I have been seeing a common theme among many of them – struggles in making difficult decisions. In many of these situations, the individuals (who need to make the decisions) are expending a lot of time and energy worrying, fretting, and going over potential options. However, a key aspect in all of the situations is the fact that all of the individuals actually need additional information before they can really make their decision. I “preach” repeatedly to my... Continue reading...

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October 31, 2006 9:56 am
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The Centrality of Trust and Communication in Wealth Transfer

In today’s Wichita Eagle business section, I have an article entitled “Family-owned businesses still power U.S. economy.” There are actually two main points in the article. First, many people do not realize how many family-owned businesses there are – 89 per cent of all U.S. businesses. And these companies create 78 percent of all new jobs in our economy. Common examples of family-run businesses are restaurants, trucking companies, residential construction companies, auto dealerships, and all of the construction-related trades (electricians, plumbers, heating and air conditioning, roofers). As a result, the health of family owned businesses is crucial to the U.S.... Continue reading...

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September 28, 2006 10:49 am
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Taxes and Family Conflict: Part II

Well, it happened again. In working with a two-generational family, the issue of taxes and personal values came up. Although there was a little bit of conflict, the real issue was confusion: “What should I do?” And the confusion was caused by an advisor’s sole focus on reducing taxes, rather than hearing the real desire of the client. The matriarch is a very kind, gentle woman and she is also very generous. She and her deceased husband are classic examples of the “millionaire next door” (see Thomas Stanley’s excellent book of the same name). They were hard workers, frugal, lived... Continue reading...

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September 20, 2006 6:48 am
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Avoiding Capital Gains Tax Causes Family Conflict! (or Don’t Let Tax Decisions Drive All of Your Decisions)

Yes, the title reads somewhat like a National Enquirer headline, but it’s true – focusing solely on avoiding taxes (whether capital gains tax, income tax, or estate taxes) can lead to family conflicts. This past week I had the opportunity to meet with a family, to review their wealth transfer plan and their plans for giving to charity. As is the case with many astute investors, this couple has experienced some significant growth in their assets as a result of some of their investments doing quite well. For example, one of their investments over the past year provided a 100%... Continue reading...

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September 14, 2006 1:41 pm
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