Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Road Ahead

My apologies to those of you who faithfully follow my daily blog. I took a few days off before the beginning of the new quarter to get together a plan for the next. I mentioned in an earlier blog that I believe the next few months (read quarter) are going to show us whether the economic policies of both the past and current administrations will be effective at getting our world economy back on track, or worsen an already bad situation.

This piece by a noted economist Alan Abelson in this weeks' Barron's is a must read. If what is proposed as part of a Private-Public partnership is successful at removing so called "toxic assets" from bank balance sheets, what happens next? Allegedly, this action will free up credit to new borrowers. But the number of credit-worthy individuals or companies is dwindling due to depressed spending and massive layoffs. Setting aside these "bad bets" and pretending they don't exist is just not part of the solution. The same thing can be said of the GM scenario. Now the strategy is to have an "orderly breakup" of the company by putting all the "good" assets together, and the "bad" assets into another pile, including employee pensions.

We have come to a crossroads in our history, which began as a journey in the last century with the creation on the fractional reserve banking system. We have had several debt related shocks to the system over the last 75 years, but none as potentially damaging as the creation of "financially engineered" product such as the ones AIG sold, and supposedly prudent banks, bought.

As Women of Wealth, you need to be more involved in understanding the financial capacity at your disposal. Many of you have this information kept for you through the activity and control of a spouse or trustee. You MUST get enlightened, before you are shocked by what may occur in your future. This is why I blog. And this is why I set up womenlighte.ning.com. Please use these to put yourself back in control. We are here to help you as individuals, and as a community.

Please consider signing up on our mailing list and in your comments, ask for an invitation to join the WWRG social network.

Until next post, continue to believe, achieve, receive. SDG - JBH

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Lifestyle Lifters - Of Service & Sizzle!

Last Saturday I pre-empted my usual Wealthy Women's Lifestyle post to announce the creation of a social network that is a companion to the Wealthy Women's Resource Guide blogsite. We went "live" last Thursday with womenlighte.ning.com and the response to invitations to join has been overwhelming!

Today, though I 'd like to place into the spotlight an organization here in New Canaan, CT that has got it all right - the Young Women's League. Through the leadership of it's current President, Tina Feldman, this organization has grown both in membership and outreach. In addition to raising money for local causes, YWL participates in several programs such as newcanaantravelplanner.org, which offers discount travel services comparable to other websites such as orbitz. A portion of each trip arrangement is donated to the Giving Fund, which is then funneled into local charities. They are also working with I.b.l.a.s.t, another business that benefits local stores and non-profits alike, to generate additional funds.

Those of you who already have access to womenlighte.ning.com can click on the "Group Events" tab to learn more about both of these organizations and perhaps get involved.

The other item you might find interesting in womenlightening is a link to a really great video I found on vivmag.com on how to cook with Agave Juice. If you have never tasted this nectar, you must try this recipe! BTW - I found a subscription to zinio.com (vivmagazine's parent co) is available at our local library for those of you who want to check out the new age of digital publishing. The chairman of Zinio is David Gilmour, who founded Fiji Water, and other commercial ventures. Very few know that profits from Fiji Water products were donated to good cause. David is an example of what wealth can do in the hands of a kind and generous steward.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend. Until next post, continue to believe, achieve, receive. SDG - JBH

Friday, March 27, 2009

National Women's History Month

Many of you may not be aware that March is National Women's History Month. This year's theme is Women Taking the Lead to Save our Planet. In my Profiles in Women's Courage post this past wednesday, I chose to highlight President Obama's choice for Labor Sec'y - Hilda Solis. Of course, there are many other women throughout history that deserve to receive the JFK PIC award. If you get a chance this weekend, take time to point out to your daughter or son, that women have done more than their fair share to make the world a better, safer, greener place.

Let's remember these women and the ones in our own lives (mothers, sisters, etc.) that give us the courage to press on regardless.

Until next post, continue to achieve, believe, receive. SDG-JBHIV

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Enlightening Women Through womenlighte.ning.com

Today marks the official debut of our own Social Network - womenlighte.ning.com! This is not about me, this is about us. Many of you have facebook or myspace pages, and I'm sure this has provided a great way to "network" with friends, relatives, and business associates. What I have learned in my research into this technology is that it provides a way for others with similar interests or affiliations to stay in touch. The FB & Myspaces will always have their place, but the future of Social Networking is in the creation of small, private, but powerful networks that are more homogeneous, but can be "daisy-chained" with other more intimate networks by design, not by force.

That is what womenlighte.ning.com is about. Women of Wealth coming together in one group or forum to bring their cause or concern to a group of like minded individuals. I have created one such group - Women With Cause - specifically for members who work in philanthropy or volunteer in a non-profit, or for profit organization that needs support. Many times, there are ways we can help each other, even though time and distance may separate us. We can create other groups as needed, and I invite your suggestions. There are several other features I think you will enjoy - videos, blogs, forums, events, etc.

Many of you have already received invitations to join the womenlighte.ning network. More invites will be going out over the next few days. Each invite will contain a "member number" that you will be prompted to enter when you set up your network profile. You will also be asked to enter your "sponsoring member" (me, in the initial few invites). This is to ensure that only invited members are allowed to join. This is not meant to be discriminatory, but rather a precaution as many of you have high public profiles and do not like the "openness" of FB and Myspace. This will also allow us, as a group to adhere to a set of Virtues for a Virtual World, and keep our mission focused. If you know of someone who is interested in joining, have them sign up to be put on our email list using the box in the sidebar to the right of this blog.

Let's make this new tool a force for change, and a community that cares. Together, we can make a difference!

Until next post, continue to believe, achieve, receive. SDG -JBHIV

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wednesday's Women of Courage

As promised, I am dedicating my blog on Wednesdays to highlighting the efforts of Women, both in the public eye and those who work behind the scenes, to make a difference, bring about meaningful change, or move the cause of Women forward. For many of these Women, the social biography they are fulfilling is deliberate. Many are following a path they intuitively feel is right. Others are more focused and purposeful. In any case, I ask you to think about YOUR social biography, and put it into action TODAY. If you haven't yet found your purpose or direction, I hope the inspiration of these Women will help motivate you.

I have chosen Hilda Solis, our recently appointed Secretary of Labor, as this week's Profile in Women's Courage. She was the first woman to receive the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in 2000. Click here for more about her background and social biography.

It is fitting, I believe, that she be given the spotlight today as we struggle as a nation with high unemployment, especially, within the middle class, and increasingly, among women. This link will give you some statistical perspective on the problem, but it does not tell the whole story. There are an increasing number of women and their children being effected by the loss of their husbands/fathers job, not to mention the single mothers who rely on spousal support and can no longer count on it because of layoffs, and gov't subsidy cutbacks.

As I have said before, we are in the second phase of a recession caused largely by bad bets, and too much debt. As men and women continue to lose their income, this will only worsen the situation by causing more defaults, lower asset prices, and reduced consumption. We need jobs creation to be a priority. If Sec'y Solis' courageous spirit is any indication of our future, there can be little doubt that once again, the best "man for the job", is a woman!

Until next post, continue to believe, achieve, receive. SDG-JBHIV

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Signs (& Sighs) of Life

Two events sparked a rally in the equity markets yesterday - an announcement from the US Treasury Department of a plan to invest in "toxic assets" in a public/private venture. This will, they claim, remove these loans from the banks that now hold them and free up credit. Will the plan work? The answer may never be known, and like the TARP funds of last year, it may be too little, too late. The other positive indicator came from the housing sector, which reported an increase in sales of existing homes last month.

All of the moves by the White House, including a media blitz to help sell the proposed budget package, are designed to prop up falling asset prices which are the main reason we are experiencing the worst recessionary period since The Great Depression. Click here for my prior post on this subject, and a link to great commentary by Bill Gross, of PIMCO. As it turns out, PIMCO plans to invest in the proposed public/private fund. This is a good sign, since we as taxpayers need to see this succeed so that we recoup SOME of the Trillions it will ultimately cost us to get out of this mess. Click here for PIMCO's Bill Gross latest take on what is happening in credit markets, and the outlook for the future.

What matters most during this widely cycling market, is that you stay focused on your individual plan of action, and your broader social biography. Let the "gamblers" continue to go after the quick money. Women of Wealth are NOT gamblers. They invest in their future and the future of their children. And that is the best news of all.

Until next post, continue to believe, achieve, receive. SDG-JBHIV

Monday, March 23, 2009

Heard on the (Main) Street

Here is a link to a recent article in the Financial Times regarding the current economic crisis and the future of Capitalism. Many of you have indicated to me that the real value of this blog lies in my mission to educate and enlighten Women of Wealth on current topics such as this, so that they can use this information and insight to further develop their social biography and begin to become active in helping solve some of the challenges we face as families, communities, and nations. It is also why I have been working on and will soon launch, a Social Network specifically for the purpose of enlightening our rapidly growing group, and getting them involved, if only to observe and become aware.

There is nothing wrong with "passive" behaviour. In the Southwest, there is a plentiful supply of the Agave plant. This is also known as "the century plant" because it can remain dormant for decades after germination, and then all of a sudden shoot up to several feet in height and begin to flower. Use this blog and the Social Network to follow others more actively engaged. Then, like the Agave, make your move!

I was at a social event in our local community that has been called one of the most affluent in America. Several women I spoke with who knew of my blog, asked me to comment on the latest economic news - AIG, Treasury moves, etc. I was surprised by the number of those who said they had only recently begun to read the financial newspapers like FT WSJ, etc. I was also surprised, and encouraged, by how many of them were truly passionate (concerned, angry) about what was happening in their own lives as result of the many "bad bets" as Pres. Obama said in his Sat AM address to the nation. made by Banks, and other financial institutions. I looked across the room and saw several of their spouses fixated on the NCAA March Madness games, and discussing their "brackets" (essentially a form of betting on the outcome of the tournaments). Here, in one small venue, was a microcosm of why we have arrived at such a dark and potentially socially devastating time in our History. Women gathered together and voicing concern for their families and future, men looking at the world as a playing field where "winning at all cost" defines their very being. We should be engaging our partners in conversations around planning for the worst, but expecting the best for our families. Unfortunately, too many women are unaware of what their financial capacity is, and have left this to others (spouses, parents, Financial Advisors).

The cost of "the end justifies the means" frequently requires a breach of Trust. This is where Women of Wealth can rise above, and why they are increasingly angry. Trust your intuition. Join the new Enlightenment phase that will save a child, community, corporation, or country. This is not fun and games, and the stakes have never been higher.

Until next post, continue to believe, achieve, receive. SDG -JBHIV

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Lifestyle Lifters: Our new Social Network!

I am pre-empting today's Lifestyle Lifters post which usually covers a unique product, service or approach that may be of interest to my followers, to announce the creation of OUR OWN EXCLUSIVE SOCIAL NETWORK! I have been researching this space for a while now. Many of you may already have a My Space or Facebook page. Generally, though, I don't recommend Women of Wealth use these as they can have unintended consequences.

The one I have created is by invitation only, and will be limited to Women of Wealth that I know and trust, or have been referred to me by an existing member. If you do not receive an invitation and would like to be considered for membership, please ask to be added to our email list by filling out the box in the sidebar to this blog. I will respond back to your email to make sure it is you who is requesting to become a member, then you will receive an invitation to do so.

The Wealthy Women's Resource Guide Network is currently under construction, but should be complete within a few days. Thanks again to those of you who have graciously offered to "test drive" the site. I would invite feedback from anyone as to how we can make this more effective, or more appealing.

My goal is to have those who wish to interact more with other WWRG followers, join us as a group. Of course, if you feel more comfortable remaining anonymous and enjoy passively the posts that I create, that's fine too.

Until next post, continue to Believe, Achieve, Receive. SDG - JBHIV

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring is Here!

TGIF and TGIS. Those of you who live in the Northeast, Midwest, and Canada will be happy to know that Spring officially arrived about one hour ago EST today. Yes, it has been a LONG Winter, in more ways than one. In 1594, William Shakespeare put into print the now famous phrase "Now is the Winter of our Discontent..." in his play, Richard III. Very few are able to quote the remaining portion of that line "...made glorious summer by this sun of York". The 'sun of York' wasn't of course a comment on Yorkshire weather but on King Richard. In this play Shakespeare presents an account of Richard's character that, until the late 20th century, largely formed the popular opinion of him as a malevolent, deformed schemer. Historians now view that representation as a dramatic plot device - necessary for the villainous role that Shakespeare had allocated him. It isn't consistent with what is now known of Richard III, who in many ways showed himself to be an enlightened and forward-looking monarch.

Shakespeare scholars believe that in this part of the play, he meant to convey a feeling that "The time of unhappiness is past". So too, can the passage of Winter into Spring. So it can be in your life, and the lives around you.

Have you been misunderstood, maligned, or falsely judged? Maybe you need to take the opportunity with the change of seasons to rethink your priorities. If you are fortunate to be a Woman of Wealth, think about how you can use this capacity to change the world.

Until next post, continue to believe, achieve, receive. SDG - JBHIV

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Womens Funding Network

Many of you have acquired wealth or aspire to, by creating value in an enterprise as a business owner, or executive, or elite professional. Some statistics from the US Department of Labor bear mentioning so that you get some perspective on just how far Women have come in their pursuit of Financial Independence:

  • Women account for over 48 percent of the wealth in the US
  • Almost half of all medical students are Women;
  • Over 35 percent of all MBA students are Women:
  • Nearly 48 percent of all law school students are Women
  • The number of women-owned businesses has grown at twice the national average in the last two years:
  • The US Senate has 16 Women, and The House has 71 Women:
  • Women hold executive-level positions in 49 out of 50 state governments
The recent financial crisis has seen a slowdown in funding for small business, as well as large corporations, however there are resources available for women who are seeking funding and support. One of these that also has a socially responsible mission is the Womens Funding Network. Their upcoming conference at the end of April will bring together leaders from women’s funds and beyond to share innovative strategies for raising and managing resources, articulating impact and achieving lasting social return.

Whether you have been successful at running your own business, or a large corporation, make sure your personal Financial Goals fit into a broader Social Biography. Women are rising fast as leaders in Government and Corporate America. It has been an uphill battle, and there is still work to be done. Support each other in the fight. Change is coming - and now you have the statistics to prove it.

Until next post, continue to believe,achieve, receive. SDG - JBHIV

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

F.E.A.R. or F.A.C.T

I heard a statistic on an AM news program this morning that on it's surface, is quite disturbing. The number quoted was 345. No, I am not speaking of the millions paid out in the AIG bonus controversy. This is allegedly the number of known conflicts (on-going wars, border skirmishes, standoffs, etc) that are being tracked. Coincidentally, this is the same number used by Sweet Briar College to designate their Govt 345 course titled " International Conflict Resolution". It is also the number of times the papers of Prof. Allan Stam, Dartmouth, have been sited in scholarly discussions of Armed Conflict..

When I first heard the news report this morning, my first reaction was one of fear. Not "stop in your tracks" paralyzing fear, but "pause for threat assessment" fear. Then I snapped to my senses. I realized that this is just another instance of False Evidence Appearing Real. How can anyone really track ALL the worlds conflicts with any degree of accuracy. And just as the media has created a false sense of how bad our current financial crisis is, citing statistics that boggle the mind and seem to change almost daily, taking too much stock in them just creates further Fear, Uncertainty, & Doubt (FUD).

I'd rather see more of the behaviour I have seen Women of Wealth, and indeed, Women in general exhibit during tough times - Females Act Courageously Too. Over the next few weeks, I will dedicate my Wednesday post to female "profiles in courage". I hope it will serve as inspiration to the many of you who still believe that they are "the weaker vessel". The creation of Financial Independence coupled with a strong Moral Compass can create a Social Biography very much like the Women I will profile.

Take time today to think about how YOU react to F.E.A.R, and choose F.A.C.T-based living, instead.

Until next post, continue to Believe, Achieve, Receive. SDG- JBHIV

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Patrick and St. Elizabeth

Today is the day we traditionally celebrate the efforts of the "patron saint of the Irish" - St. Patrick. Let us not lose sight, however that 2009 marks the 200th Anniversary of the founding of the American Sisters of Charity by St. Elizabeth Seton in Emmitsburg, Md. This is a significant event both for the Sisters of Charity and for the American Catholic Church, since the Sisters of Charity were the first active congregation of women religious founded in the United States, as well as the largest community to serve our country and church during the entire antebellum period. She was also the first US-born woman to be canonized.

There are many ways Women of Wealth can serve our communities, our country, and our world. In last Saturday's post I mentioned two local women who saw a need, and created an organization to address it. As you celebrate your "inner Irish" today, think about what you can do to follow the example set by St. Elizabeth, and countless others in service to womenkind.

Perhaps the most compelling thought I'd like to leave you with today is one of outrage. Not the kind that is being unleashed at AIG because of recent bonus revelations, but rather, positive, meaningful, outrageous CHANGE. This is the message of St.Pat and St. Ann - be not afraid to think big - you may never know where your ideas and efforts may go!

Until next post, continue to believe, achieve, receive. SDG - JBHIV

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Ides of March + 1, Friday 13th + 3

Well, two traditionally "unlucky" days have passed, and I hope you came through unscathed. Although March 15th was a very unfortunate day for Julius Ceasar, it did fall on a Sunday this year, and very few of us can argue that this "day-of-rest" does not give us a respite as we contemplate the week ahead.

Remember, also, that the Romans used the Ides of March date to mark the official beginning of Spring - a time of renewal and hope. Although the winter is still not officially over by today's standards of seasonal measure, the warming temperatures and singing birds give us a brighter outlook.

For those of you who missed Fed Chmn. Ben Bernancke's interview on 60 Minutes last night, I have included the link here. While he certainly sounded a note of optimism that a depression has been averted, and the recession should end this year and recovery should begin next year, he did caution that this all depends on the stabilization of the banking system. As I have stated in earlier posts, our addiction to the debt drug peddled to us by his predecessor, Alan Greenspan, and the creation of the Fractional Reserve Banking system in the early part of the last century, is just now beginning to collateralize into other areas of our economy and beyond. Click here for a viewpoint by Jacki Zehner, and here for a link to the original oped piece.

I believe the next few months will be critical in determining the course and speed with which we navigate through these troubling economic times. The important thing to remember is that fear and anxiety only complicate the situation and like the superstition of Friday the 13th, most of what will happen to us should not be influenced by past belief, but rather on our willingness and ability to create our own future.

Please take time today to review your Social Biography, and begin laying out the chapters that lie ahead. If we all do this, we will bring about meaningful change, and create a better world for every one.

Until next post, continue to believe, achieve, receive. SDG - JBHIV

Sunday, March 15, 2009

For All The Saints...

This week, we celebrate the lives of two Saints: St. Patrick & St. Joseph. If you haven't already, mark your calendars. St. Pat's is Tuesday, the 17th, and St. Joseph's is Thursday, the 19th. Greeting cards for both are available at your local CVS. If the number of cards available for each is an indicator of relative significance, then St. Patrick is clearly the winner here. I counted barely a half-dozen for St. Joe.

But what of the Saints among us? Those self-less, seldom recognized individuals that dot our life's landscape and perform mini-miracles, or inspire us to go on despite challenges - physical, mental, or spiritual.

I want to highlight two such individuals today. These women are both well educated, and some might say, well off. Yet each has "taken up their cross" to bring Hope and insight through their writings and ministry. Click here for a recent Sermon by Rev. Ann Richards of St. Marks Episcopal in New Canaan. For some inspirational personal stories by Author Kathryn Slattery click here.

Each of us has the potential for Sainthood. Each of us has a personal cross to bear. Many have more than one. But in the words of noted Theologian, Paul Tillich, "the saint is a saint not because (s)he is good, but because (s)he is transparent for something that is larger than (s)he is"

Until next post, continue to believe, achieve, receive. SDG - JBHIV

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Lifestyle Lifters: Hometown She-roes!

Those of you who I know follow this blog in the US and other countries around the world may not be able to take immediate advantage of what I am about to share with you. There is, however, deeper meaning, and a call to action contained herein. Women of Wealth have a tremendous opportunity to make a difference. Their capacity, when combined with a strong Moral Compass, creates a Social Biography that can influence and motivate others and solve real problems in our society - local and global.

A case in point are the efforts of two local women here in New Canaan, Carolyn Williams and Barbara Davis, who watched with growing concern this last year as the number of vacant stores seemed to rise and their friends increasingly shopped out of town to save money. Davis a former lawyer and Williams a former sales trader at Morgan Stanley, pooled their brain power to come up with a way to save their town. Last October, they launched Ib.l.a.s.t., an acronym for “I Buy Local and Shop in Town”. The Ib.l.a.s.t. card rewards local residents for shopping in New Canaan stores through special deals and savings incentives.

Now, barely 5 months later, more than 65 merchants are participating, 600-plus cards have been sold; and 7 nonprofits are fundraising with iblast. Plus, Barbara and Carolyn have started an online local exchange (a la craigslist) that connects you with goods, services and recommendations from other people in the town. Other towns are contacting them to see if similar services can be set up in their communities.

Their success is a prime example of how we can make a difference in the lives of others. Beyond the obvious commercial success this brings to store owners and communities, Iblast helps non-profits raise money during a period of increasingly shrinking donations.

In Carolyn's own words: "One of the reasons we started Iblast is to give non-profits a way to raise money in this economy. Over the course of the last 10 years volunteering in town, we have witnessed a decline in the local merchant's ability to support the non-profits in town. We wanted to come up with something that would help raise money for the non-profits and help support our local merchants at the same time. 11 non profits are already fundraising with Iblast but we have only scratched the surface".

Hats off to our local Hometown "She-roes"! If any of you out there in the blogosphere have other stories of how Women of Wealth are making a difference, let me know and I will pass them along in future lifestyle lifter posts.

Until next post, continue to believe, achieve, receive. SDG - JBHIV

Friday, March 13, 2009

TGIF 13th - Let's keep it Light and Lucky!

With Tax Season upon us, here is light-hearted look at what our current system will do if we continue to shift the burden onto Women of Wealth:

Girls’ Night Out Economics

Suppose that every Friday night, ten women go out for dinner and the bill for all
ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes,
it would go something like this:

The first four women (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth woman (the wealthiest) would pay $59.

So the ten women met every Friday and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the restaurant owner threw them a curve.

'Since you are all such good customers,' he said,
'I'm going to reduce the cost of your meal by $20.” Dinner for
the ten now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so
the first four women were unaffected. They would still eat for free.
But what about the other six women - the paying customers? How could they
divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get her 'fair share’?
They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33.
But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth woman
and the sixth woman would each end up being paid to eat her meal. So,
the restaurant owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each woman's bill
by roughly the same amount and he proceeded to work out the amounts
each should pay.

And so:

The fifth woman, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings)..
The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four
continued to eat for free. But once outside the restaurant, the women
began to compare their savings.

'I only got a dollar out of the $20,'declared the sixth woman. She
pointed to the tenth woman,' but she got $10!'
'Yes, that's right,' exclaimed the fifth woman. 'I only saved a dollar,
too. It's unfair that she got ten times more than I!' 'That's true!!'
shouted the seventh woman. 'Why should she get $10 back when I got only
two? The wealthy get all the breaks!'

'Wait a minute,' yelled the first four women in unison.
'We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!'

The nine women walked off leaving the tenth behind.
The next Friday night the tenth woman didn't show up at the restaurant, so the nine sat
down and had dinner without her. But when it came time to pay the bill,
they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money
between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, in a very simple way, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore.

In fact, they might start dining overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

Until next post, continue to believe, achieve, receive. SDG - JBHIV

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Forewarned or Foreclosed?: Truth or Consequence?

In yesterday's post I mentioned that despite the news from Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase that the first two months of this year were profitable, there were more signs that the credit crisis is deepening. RealtyTrac, a california based service that monitors real estate values in most major markets, today released their Feb. 09 US Foreclosure Report. It showed that foreclosure activity increased by over 30% over the same period in 08. This surprised many analysts because this occurred despite the many programs in place designed to stem the ever increasing flood of defaults.

This is the beginning of what is the second wave of foreclosures - those by credit-worthy households that have seen one or more high-income wage earners recently lose a job due to an epidemic of layoffs.

How does this trend affect you, a Woman of Wealth? Now is the time to find out. Why? because foreclosures affect EVERYONE, even the wealthy. If you don't think so, click here for a realtytrac report on foreclosures in affluent communities. Many of you own a home or vacation property jointly with a spouse or significant other. If you haven't done so already, you need to sit down together and understand the consequences a loss of income will have on your ability to service existing debt. If you get pushback from the other party, let this be a sign to you that there is probably a deeper problem that needs to be addressed - one of TRUST.

I have heard stories recently of spouses who continue to dress up and leave for work even though they recently lost their job. Their partner had no idea that they were in grave financial danger until the foreclosure notice was received, or the Repo man shows up to take away their luxury auto(s).

This behavior is no different than that of a spouse who receives monthly or quarterly statements from Financial Advisors such as Madoff and Stanford, yet never takes the time to understand what they mean.

TRUST BUT VERIFY! I have said this time and time again. As painful as it may be, you need to confront your partner TODAY, in order to protect your financial future TOMORROW! And trust your intuition - it is usually right!

Until next post, continue to believe, achieve, receive. SDG- JBHIV

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

It's "Tick" Season

I attended an event hosted by UBS Private Wealth on Monday that featured a discussion with their Chief Lobbyist, John Savercool. He offered some very well-formed thoughts on where this current administration was focused in terms of programs and legislation. One of the things he mentioned was the possible re-institution of the "uptick" rule, and a suspension of the "mark-to-market" accounting rules that have forced so many Banks to write off huge numbers of non-performing loans.

While the Market responded favorably to these potential changes, there are still a huge number of debt-related issues on the table. Yes, consumer debt - primarily credit card debt - actually rose last month after contracting for almost three. But this is not necessarily a good thing. Perhaps you have noticed, as I have, that more and more people are using credit cards to pay for groceries and other consumables. This would stand to reason because once cash reserves or unemployment checks run out, this may be the only resort for the growing unemployed before they have to resort to food stamps.

Women of Wealth tend not to have these immediate concerns and hopefully you have received good advice from your current advisors and have a Plan of Action to support you during these difficult times. Still the debt that has been created through the liberalisation policies of the Federal Reserve for more than a decade will take a long time to work through - perhaps even decades to come.

Those of you that know me are aware of my distrust of the "Fractional Reserve" Banking system and its "pluck from air" creation of money with no backing (gold, silver, etc). Here is another take on the "quantitative easing" and "de-leveraging" of the banking system in a recent post by Jackie Zehner.

Bottom line is that, in my opinion, we should not be lured into a "sucker's rally" that has caused a temporary uptick in capital markets. Even though Citigroup reported profits for the first two months of this year, there are signs that more debt is about to default.

But don't just take my word for it. Pay a visit to your local supermarket and find out for yourself.

Until next post, continue to achieve, believe, receive. SDG - JBHIV

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Remote Possibilities

Many of you have asked how you can participate in activities or projects that Women of Wealth are currently involved in, or are are now contemplating. I will be adding a section in the sidebar of this blog shortly that will allow interested followers an opportunity to receive email updates on a regular basis. As I come across interesting articles or projects looking for support, I will pass these along to those who sign up. Even though these groups may be scattered geographically, they may benefit by your support.

This blog and your participation in it is evidence that with today's technology, even remote participants can make a difference. This ability, coupled with a well thought out social biography, can magnify the impact Women of Wealth can have on their local community, and the world. There is a popular phrase "Think Globally, Act Locally". With a strong Moral Compass, and the capacity that wealth brings, it is possible to now "Think Locally, Act Globally", as well.

Please join us as we bring meaningful change into the lives of others.

Until next post, continue to achieve, believe, receive. SDG - JBHIV

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Revelation Revisited

In last Wednesday's post, I shared with you that I had been revealed something about what was unfolding before us, and my role in helping you and others through the difficult times that lie ahead. I also promised to reveal more about this revelation in my Sunday post. Well, there are two things that did not get accomplished this weekend, and this is one of them. The other was my Lifestyle Lifters blog on Saturday. For those of you who faithfully follow this blog (if only on Saturdays due to time constraints), I apologize. Look for a post next Saturday, I promise.

The revelation I referred to, but didn't reveal yesterday, was left out intentionally. The magnitude of this is so great that I thought it better to think through the next steps, before asking for your support. Those of you who know me or were able to read yesterday's post know that any project I take on, must first be vetted through the "9P's" before launch.

As it turns out, I wasn't the only one who had a revelation last week. As Women of Wealth, I think you will find this oped piece from the Washington Post last week insightful. The long-term impact of what is happening during these turbulent times is yet to be determined. Maybe you will experience a revelation of your own soon, and begin looking for ways to leverage the capacity you have been given, and create a social biography that will help change the world we live in. Let's create this together.

Until next post. continue to believe, achieve, receive. SDG - JBHIV

It's About Your Purpose, Not Your Purse!

I believe that many of my Women of Wealth blog followers are also Women of Faith. My personal belief system has evolved over decades of trial and error. I credit the "2-4-9" system that has come formed as a framework by which I live and serve Humanity. In last Sunday's post, I spoke about Virtue. The other "V" in the "2" numeral of the system is Values- Truth, Dignity, Selflessness. The "4D's" are Discernment, Dedication, Determination, Devotion. The "9P's" are Purpose (Mission) Passion, Planning (Preparation), Priority, Proximity (Human Touches), Persistence, Prevail.
What is your Purpose? If you are a Woman of Wealth, today might be a good day to think about that. What are you Passionate about? If the answer is unclear, then that hollow feeling you've had lately may need to be filled. Read a good book, such as Daisy Soros' "As I Remember It", or the Koran, or the Bible. Put together a Project - to help a friend, child, or pet - that leverages the social and financial capacity you have as a "World Changer"
Today, reach out to someone you DON'T know, with a smile, a touch, a gift. Let your faith in yourself, others, and a "Higher Power" shine through.

Until next post, continue to believe, achieve, receive. SDG - JBHIV

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Financial Blood Bath and You

Once again the equities markets took a nosedive yesterday, as renewed fears gripped investors that the Banking Crisis is far from over. What does this mean to those of you looking for help to sort out the seemingly complicated scenario that is unfolding?

The short answer is: Don't panic. We already have enough of that going on. If you have not done so already you need to focus on getting together a personal plan of action, or executing on the one you have.

The long answer will continue to make itself apparent over the next few critical months. You may be called upon to make tremendous sacrifices. You may need to change your approach to money, and quite possibly your lifestyle. You may need to change your set of advisors if you do not get the straight answers you need - trust is the most important commodity now and it is in short supply.

Until next post, continue to achieve, believe, receive. SDG- JBHIV

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Should a sudden drop...

...in cabin pressure occur...an oxygen mask will drop... put your mask on first, then put them on small children. Those of you who travel via aircraft are familiar with this directive, mandated by the FAA as part of the pre-flight checklist that the crew has been trained to deliver. This is but one of several directives (warnings) we are given, all of them designed to prepare us for an in-flight emergency. Most seasoned air travelers, like myself, tend to tune out during this monologue. We hear these words so often that they lose their meaning, or we think the chances of something happening are so remote, we may no longer pay attention.

In the case of the air mask, something struck me recently as I began to think about the current financial crisis and how I have responded. For one, it seemed to me that is selfish to think of placing a mask on me first, then my children. After all, aren't we taught (and innately feel) that we should put the needs of our children first in these situations? The other thing that came to mind was how much I had been "tuning-out" during the last 12 months, despite all the warning signs that things were about to get ugly.

A few observations from this analogy that keep me positively focused during this unsettling period:

  • Yes, there is an emergency, but yes, I have been prepared for this eventuality, and have a plan to deal with it.
  • There is help available, the oxygen mask if you will, which has been given to me to use if needed.
  • I must first ensure that I have pure oxygen flowing to me, before I help others with their need. It is essential that I be strong and available to help those unable to help themselves.
Do you have an action plan in place to deal with an ever-deepening crisis? Are you able to take care of your needs, so that you can take care of the needs of your children? If the answer to this question is no, then I ask you to take time TODAY, to listen again to the instructions of others who are willing to help you. Trust your intuition, not the people around you who have gotten us into this mess. They didn't have your best interests or the interests of your children in mind.

Yes, the flight attendant's drone will go on, but this time pay attention.

Until next post, continue to believe, achieve, receive. SDG -JBHIV

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


What a great word this is. If you de-construct it, there are two very positive, smaller words, but equally as powerful: Revel. Elation. I had a revelation yesterday that I will share with you on Sunday's post, but suffice it to say that the feeling I had when I was given this insight, was beyond explanation. Joy is perhaps the closest word.

When is the last time you experienced real Joy in your life? For me, it was long overdue. The constant drumbeat of negative economic news has a way of dampening spirits. I am starting to see more and more signs here in our affluent community of effects the recession is having on families, businesses, and local government. Many of you are afraid. Fear is a powerful emotion, way mightier than the sword, in my opinion. But what I have found helps alleviate fear is knowledge. A better understanding of why something is the way it is may not cause our fear to go away, but it gives us hope that there is a path to getting where we really need to be. It's like having a wake-up call at one end of the problem, and an endgame at the other end.

When I was young, I would occasionally watch the Tonight Show with then host, Johnny Carson. One of the skits he did with side-kick, Ed McMahon, was as "Karnack, the mentatlist" . In it, Ed would hand Johnny a "hermetically sealed" envelope which he would place on his forehead. After a few seconds of thought, Karnack would reveal the answer to the question that was written inside the envelope - "Shogun". He would then open the envelope, then read the question aloud - "What's the first thing you do when you hold up a liquor store?.

So it is in life - we often receive a "priority mail delivery" in the form of a personal crisis or world event, that shakes us to our core. Then, we receive a revelation about what the endgame will be. It is our job to figure out the in-between.

Until next post, continue to believe, achieve, receive. SDG - JBHIV

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Happy Square Root Day!

Yesterday, March 2, brought ten inches of snow to our region, despite the fact that the calendar has now slipped into the official month that will hopefully bring us Spring. The US stock market reached a fourteen year low, closing at 6763.29. And this morning, the thermometer registered 10 degrees, with a wind chill of 1 degree. 2, 10, 6763.29, 14, 10, 1 - and today, 3,3,9. Numbers are everywhere. They form the basis of our everyday lives. But for math enthusiasts, today is especially significant. Today is "Square Root Day", a humorous holiday celebrated on dates where the day and the month are both the square root of the last two digits in the current year.

What numbers are significant to you? 3 and 7 are ones that hold special meaning to me - 3 being the day in November that I was born, also the number that Christians believe in when describing the Holy Trinity -"Father, Son, & Holy Spirit", and 7 for the number of days in the Creation story.

There are more significant numbers that relate to the current Financial Crisis that I won't get into today, but will post soon. For now, just enjoy another holiday- the next Square Root Day does not come around until 4/4/16!

Until next post, continue to believe, achieve, receive. SDG - JBHIV

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Tale of Two Soccer Moms

We are in the middle of the biggest snow storm of the season, and once again, school has been canceled. While children delight, working moms experience fright. "How am I going to get to that important meeting with _____ (fill in the blank)? Who is going to care for my kids?" One of the results of setting up your life plan and social biography, followed by a closely-coupled financial and retirement plan, is freedom. Freedom to spend time with your family during times when it is most critical. To have balance in your life even if you want it all.

I have had the good fortune to know two local Women that have been able to make such choices. I met both of them on the soccer field. I had no clue that both were powerhouses in their respective careers until much later - when they were "off-the-clock", they were totally "standing down" from their corporate lives.

One of them Brenda Barnes, was an executive at Pepsico at the time. She and husband Randy both held senior positions. Often they would arrive for weekend games having just landed in the corporate jet from a meeting. One day, Randy appeared at school to pick up his children after school. He was dressed casually, and looked relaxed. This was unusual, as their nanny typically handled these duties. He told me then that he and Brenda had decided to leave Pepsico and return to Illinois. They would both do some corporate board work, but spend more time as a family. As Brenda later said during an interview, "I made my decision not because my children needed more of me. I needed more of them". Now Brenda is back at number 6 on the Fortune Top 50 Women in Business list. I'm sure her four children are benefactors in her social biography, which she had the foresight to craft for success - family, career, life.

Another "Power Mom" is Jacki Zehner. I have her blog, Purse Pundit, in my recommended resources list. She and her husband, Greg, were soccer coaches in our local rec program when I met them. I had no idea that she and Greg were both partners at Goldman Sachs - she the youngest invited to join the partnership. They have since left their positions to focus on family and faith. Jacki has become a frequent media commentator, and recently appeared on CNN's Morning Show. Both are building a social biography that includes philanthropy and service to others.

Take today's snow event to think about your social biography. Spend time with your children. You'll be glad you did.

Until next post, continue to believe, achieve, receive. SDG - JBHIV

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Virtues for A Virtual World

We hear a lot lately about how "connected" we now are, thanks to some remarkable technologies such as the internet and content facilitators like myself. Some of this connectivity is "real-time" (Instant Messaging, Texting, etc.). Others have increased our ability to gain access to information and opinion, yet remain "anonymous" if desired (this Blog, for example).

So while I hope that all of the followers of this blog are benefiting by what I faithfully post, I may never know the true reach and impact it will have. This is as it should be, because it preserves both the privacy of you, my readership, and my need to speak without regard for what could be thousands of you out there at this very moment to whom I connect at many levels - intellectually, mentally, and spiritually - through this blog.

This "detached attachment" between you and I demand that we agree upon a set of virtues for a virtual world - a framework that is a proxy for being able to look into each other's eyes to discern truthfulness and commitment.

For me, the 13 virtues chosen by Ben Franklin in his early 20's are the ones I live by. These virtues can be divided into those related to personal behavior (temperance, order, resolution, frugality, moderation, industry, cleanliness and tranquility) and those related to social character traits (sincerity, justice, silence, faithfulness and humility). Franklin tried to follow these guides in his life, although he often went astray. These virtues may be worthwhile to consider following in your own life.

Until next post, continue to believe, achieve, receive. SDG - JBHIV