Sunday, June 11, 2017

What happens when you don't return phone calls

Some things are intuitive and some things are not.  I get that, but one thing I just don’t understand is the thought process behind why so many people refuse to return calls.  Call me stupid, but I just don’t get it.

I am an investment advisor.  It’s something that I am honored and privileged to do for many families and businesses.  I take my clients’ money very seriously – as seriously as I take my own.  And my clients know it.  That I am the financial steward for so many normal people is a testament to the trust I’ve built up.  My clients know me as a natural connector, meaning I match many people up with resources they may need.  And although I only manage money, I’ve helped people in my network find soul mates, family therapists, addiction counselors, plumbers, all sorts of trades people, and a large miscellany of other resources.

I am also very generous (perhaps to a fault) or referring business to those in my network.  I do this to help others.  There’s nothing in it for me, except happiness and doing the right thing.  I create good karma. 

A good part of my job is calling people, to talk money and to offer help.  The reality is that most people who manage their own money have almost no clue as to how it works.  The result: Significant losses over prolonged periods.  It’s these very same people who continue to blame bad luck.  No – it’s not bad luck.  It’s bad decision making. Period. 

My approach is simple.  I tell – never sell.   I say things like they are (no sugar-coating) and I work with those that share the same philosophies as I do about money.  If you do – we work together.  And if we don’t – we don’t.  And I am totally not offended, either way.  Oh, and I also have a very thick skin.  Nothing ever offends me, except not returning my calls and saying a simple, honest or even dishonest - “No”

Here's what happens if you have never returned a call of mine:

  1. I am not going to support your brand. Why would I continue to support your brand, if you don’t have the courtesy to return more than 10 of my calls over a 12-month period. I call that rude (rude I get over easily) – not to mention unprofessional.  A senior VP of a nationally recognized coffee-store chain refused my calls – repeatedly.  Eighteen months later, I go out of my way to not support them. 
  2. You’re not using your time well – and your time is money.  Call me back.  Ask me to delete you from my database.  You’ll be deleted within seconds.  Promise.  Total time spent: between 30 and 60 seconds.  You’ve created valuable goodwill, and we’re all good.   Don’t call me back and I’ll call you between 6 and 8 more times.  No goodwill is created and you’ll spend between two and 3 minutes when I finally do reach you.  #awkward.  Get the picture?
  3. If you don’t take networking/ introduction calls, you’re not going to get introduction/ networking calls.    In business, it’s not necessarily what you know, but rather who you know.  I learned this from Peter Shankman, a master of networking.  And there would be no successful business person who could honestly and with conviction discount the value of their network.
  4. The worm turns.  There will come a time when you’ll need to reach out for some financial advice.  This time may be a year or two hence or maybe a decade or two hence.  Either way the worm turns.  Now, to be clear there are thousands of John Sacke’s around – but this John Sacke would rather talk to courteous people.   It’s just the way I roll. 

So, if you know some one, who habitually never returns calls, you may want to send this along to him/ her.  And if you never return calls – you may want to start.  I promise, it’s a good idea.  You can only gain.

Carpe diem

Saturday, February 11, 2017

I'm 51 today --- and here's where I am

Today, February 11, 2017 is my 51st birthday.  And birthdays (at least for me) are a time to celebrate, assess, plan, ruminate and enjoy.  Mostly, it's a time to enjoy one's freedom - something I have lots of. Ironic is that on this day in 1990, Nelson Mandela, the greatest freedom activist of this era, became free.

So, in assessing where I am today in relation to where I would want to be today, I really am a man in a million  billion  trillion.  Here's why:

1.  I have my health.  By that I mean all my health.  I don't take pills to get up, stay up or sleep.  I don't need pills.  Period. Yes, I do like a drink or two - but it's not anything excessive or that would rule my life.  I drink in social settings as much or as little as the next guy - sure.  And there's nothing wrong with that.  I watch what I eat.  I weigh 175 pounds and workout at least 4 times a week.  You get the picture.

2.  I have a blessed marriage - truly blessed.  Frightening fact: one in two marriages end in divorce.  Really.  I have clients in all stages of marriage dissolution/ divorce and more often than not - the results are simply catastrophic.  Karen and I work on our marriage, have simple understandings and enjoy life's simple pleasures together - and that's the key.  Do we always agree on everything?  Hell no - we're human.  But we are able to work out our differences by communicating.

3.  I have a sense of humor.  This is a biggie.  I am also able to laugh at myself.  Often.  And yes, sometimes I do get frustrated by my frailties.  I lose my keys daily.  And then find them.  I lose my wallet daily.  And then find it.  I lose my mind daily.  And then find it. These things are easily overcome.  The one frailty that continues to bother me is my increasing fear of flying - seriously.  I don't seem to be able to overcome it.  And that bothers me.  A lot.

4.  I have a great family.  I have an awesome brother and sister as well as parents.  We all see eye-to-eye.  I have two great teenage kids (well, OK - our son will be 20 this year) - and I even have a great mother-in-law (how many sons-in-law can say that?)  And over the years, time and time again, my family have stood by me.

5.  I have great friends.  They say you can always judge one by the company they keep.  And if that's any measure, I am the king-of-kings.  I have a wide circle of friends (both guys and girls) whom I adore - and I think the feelings are mutual.  They keep me sane, guided and energized - and when I occasionally step out of line, they slap me back to reality.

6.  I have a great career. As a financial advisor, I am so honored that over 130 families from all walks of life, allow me to serve them with grace, dignity, service excellence and results.  I would not change what I do for anything - it truly is a pleasure.

7.  I have an abundance of everything.  Everything - and for that, I am so grateful.  With that, I am going to sit back, pour myself a glass of wine, listen to some tunes and remind myself of all of my abundances and how much I have to be grateful for.

Peace.  Love, Happiness.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

It's a tale about my shoes

I guess I’m more determined than I thought.  And when that happens, the stars have a way of lining up … just right.   And today – they did.

I worked out Thursday night.  The ho-hum stuff.  Nothing special.  40 minutes elliptical and 20 minutes weights.  Came home hot and sweaty.  Showered and as usual packed my gym back for the next time.  “Umm, where are my gym shoes,” I said to myself, mildy aggravated. “I guess I left them at the club,” I said --- even more irritated.   

Put my bag in my trunk for the next time (which was this morning), and went on my way.

Saturday morning spin class is the favorite of the week.  It’s with Fern and I’ve been taking her class for 3 years now.  Fern’s excellent – best there is as far as I am concerned.  Now, a good spinner is something that I am not.  Ashley, yes.  Sharon, yes.  Neal, yes.  Sheryl, yes. Michael, yes.  Me – well not so much.  But it’s enjoyable. And I try the hardest. 

I get to the club a few minutes early – and yup, it’s just then that I realized my bag had everything except my shoes.  Duh?!?!?

I search frantically through all the lockers in the men’s room, including the locker where I most likely left them.  Empty.

I go to the lost and found.  Of course my shoes are not there, but out the corner of my eye I spot another pair of shoes, that could (in a pinch) fit me.  I hustle them on --- and they fit (almost) perfectly.   Maybe gross, but my determination to do Fern’s spin class was rewarded

It’s 9:27am.  Class starts in 3 minutes.  Run upstairs to the spin studio.  Jump on my bike and enjoy another one of Fern’s awesome classes.

So why am I blogging about this seemingly trivial story

1     Sport is a great equalizer and when you find a way to play the game, others around you find the same ways for you to play the game

      It puts the spotlight on the disgust I feel for Egyptian wrestler Islam El Shebaby who when defeated by Israeli Or Sasson, refused to shake his hand.  The Olympians of old would have had El Shebaby immediately thrown out of the games.

And in other news, this morning, I bought myself a brand new pair of sports shoes.  

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Jason's first year of University --- Is Over

2016 so far has been an amazing year ... it was 9 months ago that Jason (our oldest son), started his University career at Huron College at Western University.  It was an extremely emotional time for me.  And if you don't remember, please see my emotionally-charged blog posting about his departure here.

Well, it's now 9 months later, and he's home for the summer (that's if this dastardly cold Canadian weather ever improves) - and so last week, I made the Toronto-London pilgrimage (like all good parents do) to pick him up.

Jason Leaving South-West Residence
for the last time
He's had a stellar year by all counts --- and as I look back on his first year, I thought I'd share some insights I've gained

1.  It was a major step for Jason, but an even (unseemingly) larger step for me.   I vividly remember saying goodbye to him last year, knowing full well I would see him 5 weeks later.  It was not that that killed me, but it was the realization that he was far more accountable tio himself than he would be to us

2.  Texting is far more efficient (at least to Jason) than phone.  I think it's true to say that kids no longer give good phone ... they give great text.  Jason and I had many great text convo's this past year.  Phone --- not so many.

Father and Son

3.  You gotta trust.  This is a big one for me.  In my world, trust is something that's earned.  It does not simply come.  I think it's fair to say that Jason earned our trust --- in every way.

That said, I'm kinda tired --- so I will end right here.  Nest year (September), Jason moves into a house with his 4 university friends.  The chapter continues


Friday, February 19, 2016

I turned 50 last week --- now what

This old guy turned 50 the week before last (on February 11, to be precise).  No question, it is a milestone date.  As I reflect, I am exactly where I want to be in life.  Exactly.

That said, tomorrow I plan to do something a little different - perhaps.  I do a weekly spin class at the local gym.  There are about 25 of us die-hard souls to who it.  The teacher is Fern.  She's excellent - focuses on drills, technique and fun.  Of course, the music is the most important part (at least for me) and it's kick-ass, far as I'm concerned.  It's retro one week, Bowie the next, Donna Summer the next and AC/DC the following.  It's a melange (ohh, I love that word).

No matter the music, it's good karma, and that's what keeps me coming back.

I'm going to surprise each person tomorrow.  I am going to spread more good karma.

Attached to each person's bicycle, will be a five dollar bill with a note attached to do a good deed. Any deed.  That's all.  And we will see what happens.

You know, I think the Beatles said it best, "And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make."  And I want to make a lot of love.

Le Chaim!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Bowie And The Week That Was

Last week was not a good week for me. I hope this one's better.

7:01am Monday 10 January 2016:  Q-107 wakes me every day at 7:01am.  "The music world is in mourning.  Rock legend David Bowie has died of throat cancer at age 69 at his home in Brixton," says Rick Derringer, Q's morning man.

Huh?  Really?  I think I'm dreaming.  I turn over, mumble something to my wife, Karen.  It's true though.  David Bowie had died --- and the world is in mourning.  

I think it was Darwin who said, "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change."

And Bowie was the most adaptable there was - no matter what his persona, he was always recognizable.  His voice, and message, was always his own.  And I love that.

His last offering, Blackstar,both enigmatic and exploratory was released on his 69th birthday.  Only the Thin White Duke could have the chutzpah to do that, as he lay dying.  I know he knew his days were numbered.   He was Major Tom, afterall.   The only Major Tom that ever was. 

His innumerable songs were about being an outsider, a misfit, an alien, an astronaut, a crazy man - the list goes on.  His music was rock, jazz, punk and even cabaret.  His music was all his own. Completely adaptable, he continually morphed his persona, inspiring Madonna and Lady Gaga.  He was as influential in Japanese Fashion as he was in Philadelphia Funk and German Electronica.  He also collaborated with classical composer Philip Glass, who based two symphonies on David's albums, Low and Heroes.  

His anthem, (in my opinion) was Changes from his 1971 (I was 5 at the time) offering, Hunky Dory,  ... "Turn and face the strange/ Ch-ch-changes/ Oh, look out you rock and rollers/ Pretty soon now, you're gonna get older."

He was a major influence on Nirvana who chose to sing The Man Who Sold The World in its brief set for the 1993 MTV Unplugged in New York set.  His Under Pressure collaboration with glam-rock icon-band Queen supplied the deadly base line for the 1990 Vanilla Ice hit, Ice Ice Baby

He spent several years in Berlin, creating.  Hanging.  And befriending Mott The Hoople, Lou Reed and Iggy Pop.   He was relentless in his own re-invention. He was married for more than 20 years to supermodel, Iman.  In the 70's he succumbed to drug issues, mostly cocaine and in 1973, he suddenly announced his retirement - though it was the retirement of Ziggy Stardust, not of Mr. Bowie.  Whew!

It was the mythical album Ziggy Stardust, who made David into a major rock star.  It was also a blow to his head in the late 60's that caused David's left pupil to be permanently dilated.  

Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996,  he did not attend the ceremony, asking Madonna to accept the award on his behalf.  She recounted the Bowie concert that she once went to that changed her life. David Byrne, who inducted Bowie said "Like all rock and roll, it was visionary, it was tasteless, it was glamorous, it was perverse, it was fun, it was crass, it was sexy and it was confusing".  

Byrne's correct and this is exactly what made The Thin White Duke the Thin White Duke.

Listen so some excellent remixes of Bowie's hits here

Chris Hadfield performed Space Oddity on the International Space Station in 2013, said it best in a tweet last week, "Ashes to ashes,, dust to stardust, Your brilliance inspired us all.  Goodbye Starman."

Goodbye David.  The end. 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

It's All About How You Play The Game

I'm proud of the role sport's plays in my life, and as I approach 50, so sports' role becomes increasingly important.  More importantly for me though is the spirit sport embodies. 

I'm at the gym 4 times a week.  Do I love working out?  Sometimes yes.  Mostly no.  In other words, I'm likely the average middle-aged (but in good-shape) garden-variety kind of guy.  I hustle to get to the gym, hustle while I work out (mostly classes) and then I shuffle to my car and then home.  It's my routine four times a week.

My favorite class is Fern's 8:30am spin class. I rarely oversleep, however today I did.  Jumped out of bed at 8:18am, threw on my ratty shorts and shirt, jumped in the car and was at the class at 8:34, (I even skipped my coffee-in-the-car ritual to make the class).

Alas, every bicycle was taken, (I was late ...DUH). I shrugged my shoulders and headed out the door thinking I would have been better off staying in bed a while longer. Fern noticed my shrugged shoulders, jumped off her bicycle and insisted I take hers.  Huh?

Figuring that I'd busted my derriere to get there, I took Fern's bicycle and enjoyed her awesome class.  Pretty normal!  But there's a few things on my mind

1.  Yeah, I made a lot of effort to get to the class --- Fern made way (an order of magnitude) more effort in surrendering her bicycle for my benefit.  I call it teamwork.

2.  In seconds, Fern turned my disappointment into happiness.  No words were spoken.  It's what good spirited sports people do.  This is what sport is about.

3.  At the classes' end, I could see Fern's happiness knowing she'd enabled me to participate.  Again - It's what good spirited sports people do.  This is what sport is about.

You know, every 2 years I watch the Olympic Games (summer and winter). 

Today's Games are more and more circus-like. They're not as much about sporting excellence or sportsmanship as much as they're about politics, money, religion and holly-wooding, and I can't help but think Olympians of old would be turning in their graves in disgust at the charade the games have become.

Make no error, Fern's spinning class is no Olympiad, (and I'm no Olympian either.  Just sayin').  By Fern having surrendered her bicycle is a huge deal. Again - It's what good spirited sports people do.  This is what sport is about.

And I can't help but think the Olympians of old are sagely smiling down on Fern today thanking her for respecting what sport is all about.  I just hope the Fern's of this world will be in Rio next year for the 2016 Summer Olympics. 

Fern - Thank You