Tag Archives: leadership

Adieu Paris

Like so many weeks before, last week gave us Adieu Paris from the always unpredictable White House. Unfortunately, it is far more complex than either the press or the President would have you believe. I recall thinking that the deal was not so great because there are self-selected standards, self-defined reporting and no teeth. While you tend to see gloom and doom reporting, it likely is not that simple. Just to feel better about this I managed to scour up some more even-handed reporting. Whether you think this is apocalyptic or a nonevent, have a look.

Don’t Cry for the Paris Agreement

The Plain Truth About the Climate Accord

Game Theory and Trump’s Climate Negotiations

Adieu Paris: So, what should you be doing about climate change?
That is a really good question, and I am pretty certain complaining on Facebook is not high on the list. The sure thing you can do is change your own behavior. Buy a high mileage car, don’t run the central air, walk more, those kinds of things. After that, probably engage locally, encouraging similar behavior in your own community. Then you start getting to lobbying your elected officials, local, state and Federal, to take meaningful action. Did you read those articles? What do you think of the CAFE standards? Should that process be changed? Tell your Congressional representatives and get your friends to do the same. Find discrete, actionable causes and advocate for them. Then you might actually make a difference. Venting on Facebook, not so much.

Adieu Paris: What else should you be doing? Like always, focus on what you actually control!
That is right, here we are right back to your retirement planning. Fact is our sudden obsession with what is wrong with DC is great, but it likely will not change a thing. Spending half as much time on your retirement will make a world of difference to you  think about it. Since I am pretty sure I have about exhausted your interest level, just a couple of things to make you think.

The Chart You Must See to Understand the Widespread Risk in the S&P 500 Today

Homeland secretary: People would ‘never leave the house’ if they knew what I knew

21 Informative Maps That Will Change Your Worldview

30 Mind Blowing Facts That are Actually True

Washington Mayhem

Our political environment continues to be contentious and the Washington Mayhem shows no signs of abating. One might hope our elected officials would seek common ground, but there seems to be little appetite for this. Like it, or not, President Trump has been following through on campaign promises. Still the execution seems sloppy and Executive Orders always feel somehow illegitimate. The brevity, speed and seeming lack of vetting and buy-in on some of these have only exacerbated this inherent issue. The fact that the Senate has not moved on all the Cabinet positions leaves us unable still to judge the leadership style from the White House. Hope remains that a full Cabinet of independent thinkers, combined with an open minded President can yield effective policymaking. What can or should you be doing about this? Let us outline some options below.

Washington Mayhem: Become more involved.
Our government is meant to be of the people, for the people and by the people, right? In large part that means if you don’t like it, do something about it. Strangely enough the Tea Party is a manifestation on the right of this very concept. The talk is that the left may develop a Tea Party of their own as a counter weight. It is worth remembering that no small measure of success for the Tea Party has been heightened voter engagement. Marching and calling representatives is one thing, but getting involved in local politics – committees, town councils and the like – is the most pro-active approach.
Washington Mayhem: Find your quiet place.
One thing we likely all have too much of these days is connectivity. Perhaps a very good idea is to disconnect more. Put down your phone, stop checking the news sites, and find some solace in the forgotten quiet time of pre-internet days.
Washington Mayhem: Literally get away.
In our last installment we highlighted some good getaway spots and encouraged our Hollywood friends who promised to leave to please do so. Now, as we settle into the Trump Administration, here are some additional getaways worth considering. Note that these may not all be practical, but then are you really going to do it? The best hotel suites in the Middle East, Africa and Indian Ocean 26 places you should visit before they disappear forever The 7 most incredible train trips to take in Europe 

It’s the economy, stupid

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” – Gen. George Patton

Markets and the Economy –still little clarity, but some things are clear:
I have found the data to be pretty compelling absent this analysis, but for the doubters: 12 Ways the Economy is in Worse Shape Now than During the Depths of the Last Recession
What do you suppose the Street is doing about it? Wall Street Prepares to Reap Billions from Another Main Street Wipeout
Oh, and China’s wacky market tale continues, too. Consider this: China dumped a huge amount of gold on the market and investors are spooked Not to mention this: Similarities Between China’s Stock Market Crash and 1929 are Eerie

Your retirement – thoughts for a challenging environment:
Do you think interest rates will rise? Soon? Janet Yellen still says they will in 2015. When they do, or shall I say before, these are good things to know. The Insurance Industry is in an Investor Sweet Spot Right Now Weapons for Battling Rising Interest Rates
You have seen all the conflicting data; probably have a feel for the really high markets; and you have seen the crazy global picture. So, what do you do now? Be a Cash-Holding Shark as the Market Bloodbath Approaches

Leadership – it matters in all you do:
Here is a quick, really good checklist for leadership. It is literally a five-minute read … worth it. 10 undeniable behaviors of a great leader
I like this article a lot. It gives a good, concise approach to developing and executing on a great vision. I have said here many times before, communication is the key to moving an organization forward effectively. This does a nice job backing that up for you. Using the Billboard Effect to Develop and Obtain Employee Buy-in on the Leader’s Vision

May as well save some money, right?:
This is worth watching, a cross between Amazon and Costco, Jet.com. Everything You Need to Know About Amazon’s New Rival Jet.com
I was not aware of most of these … again, worth a look. Hidden hotel freebies you could be missing out on

Your retirement, plan now

It is not who is right, but what is right, that is of importance.– Thomas Huxley, scientist

Retirement security – the more you know…:
It is always inevitable, a downturn, but after this long run…be prepared. This is an interesting analysis of a low cost protection. Portfolio Structure for Hedging Against a Downturn
Of course, high yields are a nice thing to have, too … that is, without undue risk. How to Get High Yield Returns in Retirement
This just came out today, an interesting, albeit academic, view of retirement savings. I still think it is worth the read. Saving for retirement should be Job #1
Always willing to lead you a little further into the weeds, consider reading this (it does mean a free registration) piece on the impact of interest rates on your retirement. Interest rate liability important to retirement conversation

The Economy –a toe-dip into the world of macroeconomics, join me:
I’ve been saying this for a few posts now, and it gets more compelling as we go. Of course there’s always contrary data, and they like to highlight that, but …. Wall Street is on the verge of saying ‘recession’
In very much the same vein, but on a defensive note, here’s Goldman’s take: What Goldman is Telling It’s Clients: Sell in May and Don’t Come Back for a Year

Leadership tips –back to the servant leader topic:
I have touched on this a few times, and really want to like it. Maybe it’s the name that throws me. Still, I pretty much agree. Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid to be a ‘Servant Leader’
Being a persuasive speaker is a winning skill to have, here’s a quick, helpful guide. 6 Tips for Writing a Persuasive Speech (on any topic)

Travel tips – save money for your retirement, but still have fun:
I’m always happy to find money savers, and this is an interesting tool. Clearlayover Combines Two Round Trips for Significant Savings
Even if you don’t save money on your flight, you want to be comfortable! Here’s my strategy for securing the best seat on every flight

Miscellany – take your mind off things this weekend:
Some fun flashbacks to see David Letterman off the air. David Letterman Retires: A Brief History of the Top 10 List
This is a pretty cool, pretty disturbing application of technology. Public photos mined to create beautiful time-lapses

Understand the global economy

A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and little less than his share of the credit.” – unknown

Understand the global economy to improve your retirement

The Economy –a toe-dip into the world of macroeconomics, join me:
A fascinating look behind the curtain at the latest jobs report: it’s not pretty. Just one excerpt should cause you to read this: “when it comes to full time jobs there are still 1.1 million fewer now than at the pre-crisis peak in Q4 2007.” Wall Street is One Sick Puppy
On a related note, have a look at just how much the Fed tampering with markets has driven the sustained bull market … are you ready for the Fed to stop? The QE Era
If that all were not unnerving enough for you, try this one on for size. Again linking the market performance to QE, he goes one step farther to introduce global GDP growth. “Hedge!”
Keeping in mind the anemic GDP growth noted above, this author highlights the US reliance on inventory build to get even to that level growth. Biggest Inventory Build in History Prevents Total Collapse of the US Economy
Here is a fascinating, somewhat contrary view, which brings yet another variable into the discussion, “shadow banking.” This author argues that shadow banking will force the Fed to continue with QE, and that it provides a deflationary counterbalance. Interesting. The Fed Has Another $3.9 Trillion in QE to Go (at least)

Retirement security – be prepared, be alert, listen:
Never a bad idea to take a quick quiz checking your readiness. Answer These 10 Questions to See if You’re on Track to Retirement
It is always worth heeding the advice of the sage. A Dozen Things Taught by Warren Buffett in his 50th Anniversary Letter that will Benefit Ordinary Investors
Perhaps this belongs in another category, but it highlights a growing retirement concern, longevity risk. It is also why I favor ‘longevity insurance’ or deferred immediate annuities as part of the retirement solution. Calculated Risk: The Projected Improvement in Life Expectancy

Leadership tips –short, insightful lists for your consideration:
I love this one, hits on my favorite key themes. What Makes a Great Leader?: 5 Traits of Successful Leaders
Another one wholly in line with my beliefs. 12 Ways to Become a Charismatic Leader

Travel tips – save money for your retirement, but still have fun:
Use the right tools to get an edge. Finding Cheap Flights 101
More tools and tips to stay ahead. Secrets for cheap airline tickets
Most importantly, don’t be proud….New Terms with the $400 British Airways AARP Discount?

Retirement security is your responsibility

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

Retirement security – watch the fundamentals and use the best tools:
This is short, and brilliant. Read it for your own retirement security. Time to kill the 4 percent rule?
You probably need help with your retirement security. So, this is worth reading, too. 4 Questions Everyone Must Ask Their Retirement Advisor
You have seen much about Smart Beta here, and elsewhere. The first article helps explain it a bit more, and the second highlights a current winner in the space. Why ‘smart beta’ strategies deserve all the attention and assets they’re attracting DoubleLine’s Shiller CAPE fund beating rivals while adding smart alpha to smart beta
If you really want to roll up your sleeves, consider this: 30 Years Ago Warren Buffett Gave Away the Secret to Good Investing and Correctly Predicted No One Would Listen

Leadership tips –the Pope again, seriously, and more:
That’s right, back to Pope Francis, this time in the Harvard Business Review sharing views on leadership diseases. You may not agree with them all, but you cannot deny having seen some of them. The 15 Diseases of Leadership, According to Pope Francis
He’s not the Pope, but Jack Welch delivered unparalleled results during his tenure leading GE. That’s worth considering. Top 10 lessons from Jack Welch

Travel tips – with the Dollar strong, Europe’s cheaper, think about it:
Some great spots on this list, focused on leveraging the strong Dollar. 35 Places to Visit While the Euro is at an 11-Year Low
I love finding hidden gems, and this list is chock full. 10 Insanely Gorgeous, Under-the-Radar European Destinations

Boost your retirement savings

“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”—Winston Churchill

Retirement tips – Save, save, save and watch the fees:
A hidden shame of the disproportionate recovery explained here. Not only have many, many not enjoyed the rising stock market, but largely they say it is because they do not have the money to invest. Over half of Americans pass on the stock market
On a similar, and related, note, many, many Americans do not have employer based retirement plans. So, they are on their own, know it, or not, and likely to be expecting Social Security to carry the day. US Retirement Preparedness Seems Wobbly
Here’s a fascinating overview of the phantom recovery notion and some sage advice on downside protection for your retirement savings. Paper Wealth In Your Accounts Is Great, But Only If You Know How To Protect It
To the extent you do participate in the markets, don’t forget the fees! This week consider the 12b-1 fee – honest, look for this one. The Single Most Obnoxious Retirement Fee: How to Dump It

Leadership tips – get some tips from the Pope, and stay accessible:
Pope Francis has been a refreshing change for the Roman Catholic Church. Perhaps it is time to take a few pointers from his leadership playbook. Pope Francis and the Discipline to Win the Long Game
While I often harp on it, communication is key to successful leadership. Here learn more, and highlight the notion of meaningful work for your team. How and Why to Help Employees Find Meaning in Their Work

Travel tips – while you save for retirement, save on your travel, too:
This guy spends all his time finding deals, now you can benefit from his labors. The ‘Man Who Flies for Free’ says these are the 3 best websites for airline deals
When you are on the road – hopefully decompressing – use these apps to make it a better experience. 30 Must-Have iPhone Apps for Frequent Flyers

This week, something to ponder:
This crosses over between distraction and travel, really interesting, though. Seven Unknown Architectural Wonders
I’m going to bet you missed this one. Amid a glut of shipwreck finds, this stands apart for its antiquity. The Antikythera Shipwreck – The Titanic of the Ancient World and its Sunken Historic Treasure

A better life in time for Passover and Easter

“Attach yourself to those who advise you rather than praise you.”— Nicolas Boileau-Despreaux, poet and literary critic

Retirement tips – diligence on our savings is the best advice:
This is a fascinating read on where we stand today and why you may need to change some attitudes … and allocations. This is Why You Are Diversifying Wrong
Have I mentioned fees lately? I should, and this article points out the most insidious ones hidden in your 401(k). Warning: You May be Handing Over $155,000 in 401(k) Fees
Since you are already now kicking around in your 401(k), take the time to ask these questions, too. Having been there for the birth of Ameriprise, it’s near and dear to me. Four Ways to De-Bug Your 401(k)

Leadership tips – behavioral changes that will make you a real leader:
I beat this drum as often as possible, open communication, accessibility, and an understandable strategy are keys winning long term. Employee Engagement and the Communicator’s Role
I loved the heart of this article, simple, to the point, worthwhile. The 5 Best Pieces of Advice Any New Leader Will Ever Get
Travel tips – a few minutes now can save you a lot of hassle on the road:
Thanks to modern security protocols, sometimes you make the gate well before your flight … try to catch that earlier flight. How to get on earlier flight without paying fee
If that fails, then you might be interested in this app. LoungeBuddy Airline Lounge Locator App

This week, something to ponder:
With the Iran nuclear framework announced, plenty will be written on both sides of this story. I happened across this one earlier today. Have you formed an opinion yet? Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran puts the world’s safety at risk
Just for a little added context, there are crazy guys like this running around. A Russian ‘Doctor of Military Sciences’ says Moscow should just nuke Yellowstone if tensions boil over

Improve your retirement prospects

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”— Confucius

Retirement tips – small things you can do today to make your life better later:
How you choose to invest your money is important, too, right behind saving it in the first place. This interesting piece explains in simple terms the notion of Smart Beta, stripping away the market cap weighting of simple indices. Since I may have convinced you to seek out lower fees, perhaps even ETFs, this is time well spent. A Review of the Different Approaches to Smart Beta
I shared some insight on this in my last update, and since then there has been a “flash crash.” Did you even realize? No? Then take the time to read this. When the World’s Reserve Currency Flash Crashed: “I haven’t seen anything like it since the financial crisis”

Leadership tips – behavioral changes that will make you a better leader today:
There is little more valuable than a direct line to reality from your entire team. I suppose an ex-CIA operative is as good as anyone to suggest ways to create that needed link. How Leaders Can Get People to Tell the Truth
On a related, but somewhat more sinister note, this piece helps you improve your powers of persuasion. If nothing else, it is fascinating to see how companies manipulate you every day. The hidden tricks of powerful persuasion

Travel tips – a few minutes now can save you a lot of hassle on the road:
Well, that all seems kind of doom and gloom filled. This might take your mind off things. I know as good as I am on airplanes, over 12 hours starts getting to me. The World’s 20 Longest Non-stop Flights
Everyone knows how awful airline cabins are from a germ perspective. These guys are trying to do something about it. I’m all for that … especially on my next 17 hour flight! Disinfecting Planes with Robots
I have not tried it yet, but this introduction makes me very interested in GoSeek. How to find “hidden” hotel discounts

Weekly Diversions – fascinating things you may have missed:
This is crazy, the Nazis built these secret lairs as an escape hatch from their misdeeds. Apparently this is not the only one. I read that they purportedly had them in deserts and other inhospitable places. Nazi Lair from World War II Found Hidden in Argentine Jungle
I am a sucker for new technology, and 3D printing has such promise. This, though, seems like a giant leap forward. If all you do is watch the videos, it is definitely worth clicking through. Company Unveils Radical, Layerless 3D Printing Technology “25 to 100 Times Faster” than Standard 3D Printing

Inspiring Leadership

Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”
— Peter Drucker, Austrian-American writer and management consultant

Here is a great argument for staying visible, accessible and open. Gossip in the Workplace Could Signal Larger Problems
In some respects, this is a primer on transitioning from managing to leading. 4 things managers need to stop and start doing
A great way to get yourself thinking today, and often. 35 Inspiring Leadership Quotes

You realize how set I am on reducing fees and their impact on your retirement. Still, this feels too much like it is asking for increased regulation, somehow skirting the rules. U.S. mutual funds cut expenses by shifting billions to trusts
Forbes has a CFP give you some tips on retirement withdrawal rates. How Much Investment Money Can You Take Out in Retirement
Here is a decent, albeit brief, look at spend rates in retirement. It loops in the rule of thumb 4% guideline. How Much of Their Nest Egg Should Retirees Spend a Year?
This is an interesting article because I’m amazed that Money magazine would publish it without reference to longevity annuities, especially qualified ones. The New Rules for Making Your Money Last in Retirement

Funny and insightful, this post helps you while away the hours you spend in airports between flights. The Definitive Guide to Drinking in Airports
Leverage technology to save yourself some money on your next vacation. 6 Google Flights Tricks That Are Better Than Any Travel Agent
Mind you, this is a bit backwards as it is the UK perspective, still, I think there are some worthwhile points in here. Booking a flight? This table shows how timing affects ticket pricing.
Fascinating Aside:
File this in the unintended consequences category. Can a solar eclipse shut down Europe?