Tag Archives: entrepreneur

More Good Press For B Corps

6 Feb

This week’s theme has been about leadership, being bold, changing things up with new ideas.

Many of you know we are a Certified B Corporation.  This is sometimes something I think our company deserves more credit for being. But I understand why it flies under most people’s radar. it is a bit of a complicated philosophy.

Earlier this week, I wrote about a failure in leadership. I followed that post with a few posts about people making change.  Today, I share with you David Brooks’ NY Times op-ed piece on “How to Leave a Mark.”

Please, take a moment to read it.  Take a moment to discover more companies that are B Corps. If you can, support them.


Would You Like in on a Secret?

9 May

The other day, I blogged about how I’m finding new musical acts. Today, I’m going to tell you about how to find different wines than you are used to drinking.  Wines you’ve never heard of before. Wines that will take you to memories of meals on an Italian piazza where the wine and the meal melt together with conversation and music into one blissful experience.

How many of us have been to Europe and found a different way of dining that was very appealing?  Somehow, the dinners stretch into hours long conversations. Someway, that fish is cooked perfection. Somehow, that wine seems to pair seamlessly with that fish. How do they do that? How is it the meals in Europe can be so hard to duplicate stateside?

Sure, we have wonderful restaurants, wines and produce.  But rarely do things all seem to click together and combine to make the sort of experience I’ve had abroad.

I think this is partly due to the American mindset. Restaurants are a business as much as anything else here.  So is wine production.  Maybe not quite as true in Europe. While many of their restaurants and vineyards are corporate run, many are still family held and run for a different reason, to express their love of food and wine. And of all the ingredients in that memorable meal in a southern French restaurant, I believe it is the wine which brings everything together so perfectly.

Subtlety, mastery, refinement all begin running for the door when corporations take over wine making.  Yet, there are still wine makers in our area who try to make wine the right way. As my host father Gerard in France used to say “c’est correct, ce vin” That win, it is correct.  In other words, it is made well, in the right way.

After many years in the corporate world, Don Chigazola realized that how you apply corporate bottom line to medical or technical devices might be fine. But if those same measures of corporate structure are applied to wine marketing, it may mean a lesser quality wine.  In his travels to Italy, he came across that smaller, family-run wine and unlike most of us, he decided to try to bring some back home for the rest of us to share.  In the land of his ancestors, northern Italy, he saw an opportunity.  Perhaps he could import some of these family wines to America?

I was lucky enough to meet Don last week. My friend Bob Andrews brought me over to Don’s home to evaluate a few of his newly arrived wines.  Greeted happily by the family dog, we sat down to fresh fruits and cheeses and began with a sampling of an incredible Prosecco.  Many of you may have tried Prosecco. Many of you might find it sweeter than you like. If you are like me, and like a more dry sparkling wine, try this wine!  There is hardly any residual sugar.  What a wonderful bottle of bubbly!

Don and Debbie The real treat was next though. While Don heated a bit of Italian sausage in a tasty marinara, he poured a side by side comparison of the 2008 and 2009 vintage of “Le Marognole Amarone” from the Veneto (near Venice) region of Italy.  I was fortunate to have had the 2008 vintage once. Bob had bought it for my mother’s table during my Dad’s celebration of life last fall.  It was a generous gesture and a memorable wine indeed.

Time has only helped the 2008. This is a wine that will blow you away. It is a wine full of complexity. There are berries and spice. But what I notice most is how long it stays with you on the taste buds.  The 2009, same grapes, same wine maker, is quite distinctly different.  Both are wonderful.  The 2009 would do well today or even many years from now. The 2008 is lovely today and, according to the wine maker, may just cellar for 10 or even 20 years and continue to improve.

Don clearly has a talent for finding unique wines and his website sells them at very fair prices.  If you like wine and would like to find something new and different, check out Chigazloa Merchants. I think you’ll like what you find!  

What is Next for Warren Buffet?  

2 May

With the annual shareholder meeting taking place tomorrow, I thought it was a good time to talk Warren.

Ever since the days of the dot com era, I’ve been a fan of Warren Buffet. Many of my clients are, too.  His company’s stock, Berkshire Hathaway, has performed well over the years.*

But he isn’t getting any younger.  The Oracle of Omaha has reach his mid-80-‘s now.  It is truly amazing, when you think of it, what this man is still up to at this age.

However, the question begs, what happens to Berkshire when he ultimately retires or dies?


This past week, the Economist digs into this question.   Found it informative to read both links as they give you some very in depth discussion on the topic.

Personally, I predicted the slump of Apple’s stock price upon Steve Jobs’ demise. That prediction hasn’t worked out very well for me.

What happens to Berkshire when Warren dies?


* This is an opinion piece and not advice or solicitation to buy or sell any stock or investment. Before buying any stock, please be sure to read any material information available and be certain the risk inherent in any investment is appropriate for you.

Robots, Robots Everywhere!

24 Apr

This article speaks to a point I’ve been struggling with for sometime-  “When will computers automate me out of a job?”

I’m convinced that one day, this profession of mine where we help folks in Santa Rosa and Sonoma County with their financial planning and 401(k) plan issues will be replaced by software for the most part.  Not tomorrow. But not that far out, either.

Bill gates seems to agree. He’s quoted here by the “Business Insider” and his thoughts are interesting.  Have a child or grandchild going into college in the near future? They better have at least some knowledge of software and programming or their work options in the future may be scarce.

Monday Inspirational Video

8 Apr

This is amazing!

In this video, Pranav Mistry demos new tools that help the physical world interact with the world of data — including a deep look at his SixthSense device and a new, paradigm-shifting paper “laptop.”

Pranav Mistry is the inventor of SixthSense, a wearable device that enables new interactions between the real world and the world of data. This is well worth your next 14 minutes!

So You Want to Win the Lottery?

29 Mar

Recently, the news was abuzz with a story about a man who had moved to New Jersey from the Dominican Republic that had won $338 million in the Powerball Lottery!

But how will this ultimately turn out for Pedro Quezada?  This man didn’t even own his own car, and now he’s going to get a chuck, after taxes, for about $150 million!  This sounds amazing. And certainly, it would be something I’d love to help somebody manage!  But will the smile on his face fade in the coming months?

The history of lottery winners is not good. Like many sports stars or musicians who come from poverty and suddenly find great wealth, Pedro may fall victim to scammers, greedy family, charity and buying too many things he won’t need.

Cautionary tales are everywhere for lottery winners.  I’d love to win one day. I don’t play often. But do dream of all the good I could do with such substantial sums of money.

Here’s my list of wishes, were I to win –

  1. Pay off the mortgages of my brothers and parents.
  2. Pay off my mortgage and also that of my kid’s home.
  3. Establish a foundation to give to charities like Rotary. I’d also find ways to give to charities that strive to increase literacy around the globe.
  4. Buy a little farm house in Provence.
  5. Buy a tiny little beach bungalow in Maui.
  6. And one little ski chalet in Tahoe.
  7. I’d probably get Sarah and I a new car. Nothing fancy. Maybe a Subaru and a BMW nice sedan.
  8. I might just contemplate retiring young, too!

What would you do?

How Will History View Bill Gates?

19 Feb

In my opinion, as one of the greatest humans ever.  Sure, you can criticize the man’s company, Microsoft.  But what other company has opened the world of knowledge to so many?

Bill Gates

Bill retired as CEO of Microsoft a few years ago to run his foundation.  And now, his foundation is simply put, the most impactful organization ever created in terms of helping the poor, the starving, and the sick.  His charity is often criticized.  Often applauded.  To his critics, I ask, have you ever run a $40 billion operation?

He’s just released his foundation’s annual letter. If you enjoy reading about philanthropy and how it is evolving today, I’d encourage you to read Bill’s thoughts.


Dr. King’s Triple Bottom Line

23 Jan

Monday, we celebrated one of America’s greatest leaders, Martin Luther King, Jr.  Today, I want to share an example of a new way of doing business in America which I believe embodies the highest aspirations of Dr. King.

MJ Everson Financial Logo

Logo representing Triple Bottom Line

We have always believed in a Triple Bottom Line philosophy. It is represented in our logo, practiced in our business and striven for daily in the ways we interact with friends, family and clients. In 2009, we were certified as an official B Corporation.

I didn’t realize this until today, but Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. also professed to follow a Triple Bottom Line in life – he called it Length, Breadth and Height. Not exactly “People, Planet and Profits” but certainly from the same point of view that doing right by others will end up benefiting everyone including yourself.

I’ve linked an article from Forbes magazine written by Jay Coen Gilbert (the co-founder of http://www.bcorporation.net) where you can read the beautiful interconnected story of a few Pennsylvania companies following the triple bottom line principals of both B Corp and Dr. King. Here is the article link.

California passed law last year allowing companies to become “B Corporations.” We truly believe this is one answer to much of the abuses corporations are accused of these days.  You should seek out and do business with B Corps!  Many are local to Sonoma County. Companies such as Indigenous Designs, Guyaki Sustainable Rainforest Products, and Traditional Medicinals all have been certified B Corps for many years now.  There are hundreds of others across the USA.

Being a B Corp. corrects the focus. It removes a singular drive for profits. A company must always be profitable but in a B Corp. you don’t have to forget about the people who help generate those profits, or those in communities around the globe who are affected by the products, goods or services sold daily and ultimately it forces a company to reflect on its impact to our planet.

Dr. King’s vision and dreams have influenced so many people over the last nearly 60 years.  It is such a good feeling to be a leading part of a change in the way America does business.  Learning it has some roots in the philosophies of one my own personal heroes makes me feel even better!




Mondays got you down? Watch this video.

21 Jan

Mondays got you down? Watch this video:

Steve Jobs at Stanford 2005

I’ve decided to try and make my Monday blog posts inspiring.  We all need a pep on Mondays, don’t we? Well, my lucky clients who are retired probably do not.  But for the rest of us, Mondays can be, well, Monday.

For my first install, I’ve linked a 15 minute video of Steve Jobs’ 2005 commencement address at Stanford University.

I’ll guarantee you that this will be 15 well-spent minutes. Mr. Jobs is a complex man but there is no doubting his genius.  Perhaps more than iPhones, iPads, or Macs, this 15 minutes of spoken words is his greatest gift to our society.

Take your cup of coffee and watch this instead of trolling around the net for the next 15 minutes. Let me know what you think.

Where are you going?

20 Dec

This article in the BBC proclaims a professional exodus. Why are more and more of the world’s most successful businesspeople moving abroad for work?


It is an interesting situation.  How do you pick up your kids, your spouse (what if you’ve divorced?) and just move to another country? Having an international bug in me and a business that is fairly portable, it is an idea we’ve toyed with in the past.

Have any of you ever worked abroad? Two different times, as a student, I spent summers in Belgium working.  But they were temporary jobs.  I had no career, no family to transport, no bills.  It would be so much more complicated today. How many of you would come in for a review in our Costa Rica office, anyway?

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