Do Business with Good People: Life Lesson 45 of 50

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

I’m Done Asking for Permission

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

We make choices every day: what to eat, what to wear, and who to spend our free time with. Shouldn’t we also choose to do business with good people whenever we can?

How to do business with good people

It can be a jungle out there, but in most cases, it doesn’t take long to figure out if someone has your best interest at heart or if they’re just trying to get what they can from you.

If you’re having difficult judging the character of a potential business acquaintance, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are they helping you reach your goals, or are they only focused on their own bottom line?
  • Are they focused on helping others or only themselves?
  • Have they spent time understanding your goals or what you are trying to achieve?
  • Do you have a genuinely good impression of the person based on your interactions, or are there red flags you’re not addressing?

If you know it isn’t right, don’t make the deal—and if you’re regretting a previous partnership or agreement, look for opportunities to form more meaningful connections elsewhere, and move on when you can.

Good people do honest work for honest pay

Just because someone makes a commission or fee, that doesn’t mean they don’t have your best interest at heart. Anyone who provides a great service should expect to be paid for that service. I don’t operate my business for free, and I don’t expect anyone else to either.

When you do business with good people, you’re happy to pay for quality. You have a clear understanding of what to expect, when to expect it, and what to do if you’re unsatisfied. The sands won’t keep shifting under your feet. And while you don’t have to be best friends with everyone you conduct your business with, you should at the very least respect one another during all your interactions.

Let’s face it: life is just too short to deal with people with unsavory business practices or ulterior motives.

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4 + 2 =

Broke vs. Poor – Life Lesson 44 of 50

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Broke vs. Poor

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

So often we use the word “poor” to describe our financial state when what we really mean is “broke.” What’s wrong with that? Well, these term refer to two very different situations, and using “broke” vs. “poor” interchangeably minimizes the very real experience shared by millions of Americans.

Being broke is a drag

Most individuals have experienced being broke at one time or another. I know I have. In my simple definition, “broke” means having a roof over your head, food in the fridge (even though you might think you never have anything good to eat in the house), clothes, shoes, and a car or bike—but your phone might be a few years old, and you make your own coffee before you head to work, and you probably aren’t taking lavish vacations.

Broke means not having enough money for the miscellaneous items we want in our life—the newest iPhone, expensive meals, or designer clothes—but, ultimately, getting by and hoping for brighter days.

Being poor is a crisis

On the other hand, poor means not having a roof over your head or knowing where your next meal is coming from. It means that a single surprise, accident, or medical issue would be catastrophic. It means hope is as hard to come by as a decent night’s sleep. Poor is a life-threatening condition that affects entire families across the country. I pray you and I never experience it.

We may not all have the newest car, shiniest toys, or top-of-the-line devices, but you know what? That’s OK. We can complain sometimes about not having the things we want, but we should be respectful of the difference between broke vs poor so we’re not silencing the struggles of so many Americans.

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7 + 10 =

Share Your Blessings by Giving Back: Life Lesson 43 of 50

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Share Your Blessings by Giving Back

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

Photo by Elaine Casap

Whether or not we recognize it every day, you and I are incredibly blessed in our lives. But wait: How can I possibly know this about you when I don’t even know who you are?

Well, you’re reading this, aren’t you? This means you have either access to the internet or someone who cares enough about you to have printed this out for you. Either is a blessing—and when you share your blessings with others, you’ll only increase their return.

How to give back

For many of us, a monetary gift is the easiest way to give back: we just pull out the checkbook, sign our name, and put the issue out of our minds until the next round of charitable giving. However, giving back can take many different forms. More difficult in this busy world—and therefore potentially more rewarding and more personally impactful—is giving your time and talent.

Here’s a list of just a few possible things you might do to leverage your time and talents for the greater good:

  • Volunteer at your place of worship.
  • Offer tutoring or childcare services to local schools or after-school programs.
  • Organize a book donation drive for your neighborhood or install a Little Free Library on your property.
  • Ask your local library, food pantry, or animal rescue service how you can help.
  • Contact a nonprofit organization whose mission resonates with your passion and offer your time and skills.

    This is by no means an exhaustive list; look to the needs of your community and your own unique strengths and skills, and you’ll come up with plenty of new ideas for giving back.

    Share your blessings, multiply their effects

    However you choose to be impactful in the world, know that you aren’t just benefitting others with your service; you’re multiplying the blessings in your own life.

    Some of your most significant and impactful experiences will come from helping others. Giving benefits both the giver and the receiver, and those blessings can ripple out into the community in unexpected ways.

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    2 + 15 =

    Trust the Professionals! Life Lesson 36 of 50

    ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

    Trust the Professionals!

    BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

    Photo by David Siglin

    We might be able to swing a hammer, troubleshoot a failed download, and deposit a check through our mobile banking app, but that doesn’t make us expert carpenters, IT professionals, or banking specialists. Even though we’re self-sufficient creatures (who may hate asking for help), there are times in life when the best thing to do is trust the professionals.

    And with good reason: we’re all busy, so when someone has tons more practice, insight, and experience than us, it makes sense to benefit from their expertise instead of reinventing the wheel ourselves.

    Here’s a list of some of the most trusted people in your life, assuming you can find the right people:

    • Handyman.
    • Mechanic.
    • CPA with business acumen.
    • Certified Financial Planner.
    • Someone to fix your computer.
    • Medical professional.
    • Editor.
    • Banker.
    • Travel agent.
    • Lawyer.

    Anyone else with skills you don’t possess and can’t reasonably acquire.
    Think about it. You might know how to change a tire, but can you install a new engine? You can apply a bandage to a wound, but can you treat yourself for an infection or disease? You can book a flight, but can you make a hotel reservation in a small town in a foreign country when you don’t speak the language?

    That said, I don’t know you—maybe you have some of these skills. Maybe you have all of them. Even so, there will come a time when your choices are to trust the professionals or get in way over your head. Make the right choice.

    Of course, if you think you can manage a project on your own, go for it. There are plenty of home projects most of us are more than capable of accomplishing on our own, with nothing more than a trip to the hardware store and a few hours on YouTube.

    But if you’re in danger of electrocuting yourself, making an irredeemable mistake, putting yourself or someone else at risk, or in any way making things worse than they already are…just trust the professionals. That’s what they’re there for.

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    Looking for Unconditional Love? Get a Dog: Life Lesson 35 of 50

    ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

    Looking for Unconditional Love?

    BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

    Photo by Atanas Teodosiev

    When you get a dog, there’s nothing like the unconditional love you’ll experience—and if you already have one, you understand how dogs enrich our lives and brighten our everyday experience.

    When you arrive home, a dog is excited to see you. They ask no tiresome questions about your day. They don’t pester you about how much money you made. Instead, they just show their love and enthusiasm with giant eyes, an eager tongue, and a tail that won’t stop wagging.

    This lesson isn’t about money, it’s about having a lifelong friend. And friends take care of each other—I have my dog in my trust: no distributions are allowed from our trust until our dog is financially secure. (My wife won’t let me leave it all to the dog.)

    And a dog takes care of you just as much as you take care of your dog (even when they’re hogging the bed). I call it the “presumption close”: a dog is willing and able to go wherever you’re going, eat whatever you eat (without cleaning up after the meal), even go to work with you (where they have no intention of working).

    In today’s world, I think people are lonely. Get a dog and no matter what is going on in your life, wherever you are going and whatever you’re doing, you’ll have a little buddy right there with you wagging his tail.

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    2 + 1 =

    We’ve Lost the Art of Being Friends: Life Lesson 34 of 50

    ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

    We’ve Lost the Art of Being Friends

    BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

    Photo by Simon Maage

    What’s going on with our world today? It seems like we’ve completely lost the art of being friends with the people in our lives.

    You may not remember it, but there was a time when we could have meaningful conversations with other people, regardless of our different backgrounds and beliefs. We could even—dare I say it—disagree with strangers without being offended and still walk away as friends.

    Impossible? Not at all! Here’s how it works.

    You can be friends with individuals who you do not agree with when it comes to sports, politics, religion. You can even be friends with individuals who believe the Vikings will win the Super Bowl. You just have to understand and accept that everyone is different, and that the things we disagree about will never be as important as the things we all agree on.

    (I happen to think the Vikings will never win the Super Bowl, but believe it or not, I’m still friends with a host of Vikings fans.)

    Many of us claim that football is life, but we all understand this as an exaggeration. Life is a rich tapestry woven out of many threads—yes, including football, but just as crucial to our quality of life is having friends who talk to us, listen to us, and even respectfully disagree with us.

    Like any other skill, it takes practice to develop and maintain the art of being friends, but the payoff is well worth the effort you put in. For example, I’m a dog person and not a big fan of cats…yet I still married my bride 29 years ago, even though it meant welcoming a cat into my life.

    Relationships are all about empathy, compromise, and understanding, and we will only recover the lost art of being friends by practicing these important traits in our daily lives.

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