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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.


50 People Who Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity

4 Feb

It doesn’t take much to do a little something to help your fellow human. The folks on this web post might make you smile. Better yet, they might help counter the stories online and on the news that might have made you think humans are rotten to the core.

My favorite is the man who reads to his co-worker who cannot.  What is yours?


22 Dec

Back in 2008, the Press Democrat asked for readers to write a story about the Christmas season. They chose to print my story in their “Closer to Home” section on December 24, 2008. In the midst of a divorce and a business nearly going under, I had a lot I could complain aboutBut instead, we stayed positive and today, six years on, I’ve never been more grateful. Hope you enjoy the look back. We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

We’re rich!” exclaimed the innocent 5 year old.

It was an honest appraisal from my point of view.  The boy who said that was me. And the sound of laughter which my remark inspired still remains with me to this day.

I suppose the reaction of my parents and their friends took me by surprise because I honestly felt I was rich.

I didn’t understand what they all thought was so funny! But something about that remark set them all in hysterics.

A few months ago, when my son Patrick turned 5 years old, I asked him if he thought we were rich.

“Yes, I think so, daddy,” he told me.

“What makes you feel rich?” I followed up.

“Well, we just are.”

I’ve come to realize, he’s right. Just as I was when I was 5 years old.

At nearly 37 years old, I now understand why my parents and their friends laughed at my proclamation. I realize the pressure of being an adult now that I could not then.

Each week, I struggle with bills. I find creative ways to stay on top of a mortgage and pay our taxes. The demands have only been more fierce in the teeth of this financial crisis.

We own a financial planning firm caught in the teeth of this crisis. As hard as I try to remain positive, sometimes it all makes me feel like I’m not rich at all. But then I recall that money cannot make anyone rich. Only wealthy.

Wouldn’t a boy in Pakistan crawling in the dirt, suffering from polio, change spots with me instantly? I wonder what the word “rich” means to him?

Wouldn’t a girl sold into sexual slavery in Cambodia take my place in a second? I’m sure she’d trade my stress and anxiety for her own daily horrors.

Wouldn’t a Russian business owner constantly pressured by graft and government demands wish for the free enterprise system I enjoy?

Aren’t I really wealthy, by comparison, to nearly 99.9 percent of the world?

I believe so.

And that is simply monetary. What about health? As Americans, our life expectancies are some of the longest in the world. Isn’t health as important a commodity as money? Or what of nutrition? In Sonoma County, we live among the best farms in the world. A real cornucopia of organic, fresh, tasty and nutritious food abounds. I wish my waistline could decline in size like my portfolios have during this financial crisis.

But judging from my snug-fitting pants, the so called crisis hasn’t affected my ability to eat well. Can you imagine anyone living in Zimbabwe who wouldn’t enjoy trading pantries with me?

What about our wealth of freedom? I can write what I please without worry at all of government or social censure. Starting a business was a piece of cake. Where else in the world is that a true statement? I’m free to travel, work, exercise, spend, save and do what I please in most every instance. Not so for nearly 75 percent of our world neighbors.

Wealth is just one area where many Americans have lost perspective. Consider our selfish interpretations of right and wrong. Or our heated and uncivil discussions about religion and politics. Americans have lost the attitude of gratitude that made us such a force in the past.

Take a moment and look around like a 5 year old might. Everything around us is so amazing yet so few around us seem very happy about it. Do you wonder why?

If only folks could step back for a moment. Take an inventory of what we do have rather than what we do not have. And then compare our ledger to our friends around the globe. Isn’t each and every one of us very wealthy?

I believe so.

Honoring our Veterans Today

11 Nov
Fall has arrived at MJ Everson Financial, our Flag is out for Veterans Day

Fall has arrived at MJ Everson Financial, our Flag is out for Veterans Day

 Today is Veterans Day. We set aside November 11 to honor anyone who has served in the U.S Armed Forces.

Having never served myself, I’m often unsure the proper way to honor those who have.  What I’ve done over the years is call those I know who have served and thank them personally for their service.

In October 1995, I visited Omaha Beach in Normandy, France.  It was a life changing experience.  A lot of the soldiers buried there were kids.  From 16 to 20 years old, most of the tombstones listed birthdays that meant the men and women buried there were the same age I was at the time of that visit.

Here I was, rolling around Europe leisurely. There they were fighting for that freedom I so sadly took for granted at that time.

The moment brought to light an idea that I had been given some very tremendous gifts and opportunities in the lottery of being born in America. The sight of the seemingly endless tombstones snapped me into a reality that I was perhaps being ungrateful for those gifts and needed to do a better job maximizing those opportunities and honoring the sacrifices of these soldiers.

Omaha Beach CemeterySince that visit, I’ve read history on these soldiers. It has truly fascinated me how many of them died and that they seemed to do so for mainly better reasons than any war before or since. Time and again you read how these men knew what they were doing. Believed in their fight.  They believed they were fighting against the Germans and the Axis in order to preserve our free way of life. There is so much honor in that.  These men didn’t think of fancy cars and big homes. They valued their freedom and were willing to sacrifice their own lives to preserve that freedom for others.

Take a moment today and think about those among us who have served. To thank them and their families for that service.

Maybe you have a moment today to reach out to a member or veteran of our armed forces.  Thank them. Buy them lunch. Visit with them.  It doesn’t go far enough in thanking them, but I suppose it is better than no notice at all. Here are a few more ways to reach out and show your thanks today.

Why Do We Treat Women This Way?

18 Aug

It takes practice to convey a genuine bit of flattery without coming off as rude, fake or worse.  Do you notice how men are often rude, insincere and worse when it comes to treating women with respect. Why?  Women typically aren’t this way with men.

I enjoyed this very honest take on the subject of harassment.  And I do plan to be more vocal toward those who refuse to act with dignity and respect toward others.

A Better Way

13 Aug

In the past, I’ve posted many times about our association with B Corporation.  As a certified B Corp since July 2009, we’re very proud of this ideal and the growing movement. Today, over 1,000 companies world-wide, large and small, live and work by the triple bottom line ideal.

But aside from the outliers like Patagonia or King Arthur Flour, the early adopters were much smaller companies like ours. Admittedly, our impact on the global economy is negligible at best. I often wondered if it would really ever take off and truly begin to change the way companies do business. Or would this idea fail to attract enough attention to truly make a difference.

I no longer wonder.  Today, article after article in business press (Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Entrepreneur) , or in main stream media like the New Yorker or New York Times continue to see this ideal as a better way forward for global companies.

You can blame President Obama, Congress, evil corporations, Wall Street, whomever and whichever you like for the massive imbalances between rich and poor, for the poor state of the environment or the shaky ground of the economy.  But the quickest way to fix all of these things is intentional consumer purchasing.  Yep, we’re to blame.  Not them.

Stop buying from WalMart.  Start buying from a company like Costco which treats their employees remarkably better. Quite simply, it is that easy.  Being more careful about which companies get your dollar is all this really is. We spend blindly, as Americans.  Once we begin to open our eyes to who gets our hard-earned money, the world of business will be forced to react.  In fact, as you can read by all these links, it already is reacting.

Don’t believe me?  Have a look at how Unilever’s new CEO is running that massive, multi-national company these days.  Businesses are starting to see that raping the Earth, screwing their employees and simply enriching their shareholders is not exactly the best recipe for success.

Como Se Dice?

21 May

As I prepare for my two week visit to Brazil, I’ve been studying Brazilian Portuguese for 15-20 minutes each day.  Sarah is pretty tired of hearing me repeat “Onge fica o hotel?” Where is the hotel? But you know what, it is working? I have a bit of an aptitude for languages, to be sure. But I do feel this method I’m employing (Pimsleur Language Learning) is very effective. When I arrive in Fortaleza in three weeks, I’ll be able to make short conversation after only two months of study.


It proves a point made in this article from Forbes. That memorizing verbs and vocabulary are really not the most efficient means of learning a language.  Rosetta Stone figured this out years ago. So has Pimsleur, the software I’m using. If only they had told my old French profs at Sonoma State.  I’ll never forget Madame Fallandy hewing to old-fashioned teaching methods.  It seemed to me the only thing missing was for her to beat my knuckles with a ruler! She’d have loved that, I think.

But she beat my brains in to memorize the subjunctive tense and use it correctly.  20 years later, I still cannot effectively use that tense in French, or English, really.  But because of my many months of living in France, immersed in the language, I’m still quite fluent conversationally. Sure, I mismatch noun genders and verb tenses.  But the French understand me. “Je me debrouille” the French might say. I get along well in French.

And isn’t that the point of learning another language? To get along? To find understanding? So why do we focus on verb tenses and conjugations we’d only ever use 1% of the time?  It turns out, if you master about 200 words and sayings, you can pretty much make it through any language pretty well.  Because most languages lean heavily on the usage of a limited amount of words.

It is only in writing or reading that your other vocabulary and verbs come into play.  But think of your own day to day conversations.  More than 80% of what you say on a daily basis is a combination of questions and answers and thought words you use all the time.

Hope our Middle schools and High Schools will learn from this. It would help America in so many ways to be more open to Spanish and Mandarin.  In the long run, it will certainly be difficult for us to continue down this monolinguistic path.

Sometimes Americans Can Be So Selfish

16 May

There are a lot of indictments these days. Usually, they are thrown around a wee bit too easily in this rapid, Twitter-fed world we live in.  I point, for example to all the local leaders who are only now, after many months of dealing with this issue, jumping all over Efren Carillo to resign.  Why now? The court process is what you awaited, you say?  Well, that court process found him innocent.  So, if you wanted to respect the process, why can’t you respect the process’s outcome? Mostly because the outcome isn’t in line with their political opportunism.  Opportunism is another word selfish, is it not?

Selfishness, in my opinion, is what is harming America’s culture more than any one aspect of what may be wrong. I see it when I’m coaching youth sports. I see it in Rotary Clubs.  Heck, we see it every day on the crosswalk where driver after driver deem their time more important than the law and fail to yield to pedestrians.

I see it in my business dealings quite a lot. People seem to think win-win is old fashioned and useless.  More and more, I see pemedieval stocksople approach everything in their lives from a ‘zero sum’ point of view.  Winner takes all, the loser can suck it.  If you hadn’t noticed, that attitude creates quite a lot of dissonance and anger among us all.

Maybe one way we can all work to change the selfish attitude that so often prevails is to begin publicly shaming the selfish? Some modern day stocks, so to speak? Stocks had been used in the past to humiliate an offender.  The offender would be exposed to whatever treatment those who passed by could imagine. This could include tickling of the feet. As noted by the New York Times in an article dated November 13, 1887, “Gone, too, are the parish stocks, in which offenders against public morality formerly sat imprisoned, with their legs held fast beneath a heavy wooden yoke, while sundry small but fiendish boys improved the occasion by deliberately pulling off their shoes and tickling the soles of their defenseless feet.” 

Maybe by posting this story, we can put FourSquare CEO Dennis Crowley’s head and hands in a proverbial stock and give him more of the public shaming he so richly deserves.  Maybe next time, this entitled, rich, and clearly moronic man and his wife will think twice before they cheat. I doubt it. But who knows?


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.

The Most Seen Picture in the World

18 Apr

Believe it or not, it is right around the corner from here. Just head out 121 toward Napa and on your left, you’ll see it.






Well, it doesn’t quite look like that. Because of some photography and film tricks, the colors come out.  With some editing, the vines were wiped out of the picture. But that is the hillside in the famous wallpaper of Windows XP and it is right here in Sonoma County!

Here is a short video of how it came about being the standard image of Windows XP.

Being that this is the time of year where the hills are emerald green, I thought this would be a fun blog for Friday! Have a great weekend!

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