It is amazing what can be learned and implemented in 9 weeks.

fpu logoOne of the joys I have is being a volunteer coordinator for Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University.  This 9 week class is held by my church at an offsite location.  From January until March, couples and individuals committed every Thursday evening to learn personal finance principles. For some, they were already using these strategies with their income while others were in debt from credit cards, college, car and home equity loans.

The photo you see below is our graduation night.  Not only did the class receive education on how to effectively setup a zero-based budget but also how to payoff debt utilizing the debt snowball.  There is much more to the class beyond these two points and you can learn about them at Dave Ramsey’s website.

(In the photo you will see all graduates holding one of the following a 100 Grand or PayDay candy bar.  The ultimate personal finance graduation gift.)

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Primary and Mid-Term Elections: What a privilege it is to vote as a citizen of the USA.

Since I turned 18, I do not remember an election I did not vote in regarding my community, state or nation.  History was never a subject I enjoyed in school but through life and work experiences I have learned to appreciate the value of voting.  To be a citizen is a great responsibility.  You have the ability to determine the vision of your community.

This is my first year to ever take an active role in politics.  Monthly I attend our small city’s council meeting to learn and ask questions.  I have found a candidate for governor that I believe in and trust he will move the State of Arkansas in the right direction.  The Constitution of the USA and personal responsibility are core principles that must be maintained for our nation to be what the founders meant for it to be.

There will never be a perfect candidate, but it is time we had representatives at all levels for the people and not for themselves.  I think that the light of accountability will be even stronger in the coming years.

 

Have you ever stopped and really listened to your customer?

usavballThis past fall I had the opportunity to train on human behavior for the USA Volleyball Board and Club Directors.  Though I knew the topic of my presentation and the content I would be training, it’s what I didn’t know prior to arriving in Denver, CO that made the difference.

Since I checked in the night before and wasn’t presenting until late morning, I asked to sit in on their meetings regarding some difficult policy changes and the implementation that needed to take place.  When you understand the model of human behavior and you listen during a meeting like this, every personality pops off the page.

  • The D (Dominant) personalities had the goals and targets established and the teams setup to start the implementation.
  • The I (Inspiring) personalities were up front sharing about the PowerPoints they already created and the excitement they have to share the message.
  • The S (Supportive) personalities were patiently waiting quietly to hear what the final outcome is and then they will do what is asked of them.
  • The C (Cautious) personalities waited to hear the facts of the policies and the strategy for implementation.  With an estimated 30 min. left in the meeting, they started asking excellent questions for next hour concerned about the liability of the new policies and if the proper processes had been followed.

For our organizations/companies to succeed, we need teams made up of the full model of human behavior so each of our strengths can be a benefit.

Give time and energy to those who are hungry to learn

When was the last time you were on a college campus other than when you attended or went to a sporting event?  How can you assist you local college or university to provide their students real life examples of the workplace environment, interviewing preparation, important skills, etc.?

Arkansas Tech University’s College of Business recently held a morning session inviting professionals with varied backgrounds from around the state to share their insights on the job marketplace.  I was one of two business owners on the panel, but the only way that gets paid to talk for a couple hours back to back.  The students were inspired by one of their alumni who graduated within the last two years, started a website programming company, sold it to a local business and now runs it within that company.  Hard work and determination paid for him early in his career.

During the Q & A session, I challenged the students to find a mentor, both personal and professional.  But most importantly, they need to be open to the mentors suggestions.  It is never easy to receive feedback or wisdom from someone else when you mind is made up, so they will need to stay open-minded and absorb the knowledge from this individual.

Make time to look for opportunities to give back in your community.  Help others find a way to succeed.

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Finding the Balance to Reach Goals: Exercise and Eating Right

There is not a miracle cure, program or pill out there when it comes to achieving a healthy weight and fitness level.  Actually, their is simple math to the whole thing:  Burn more calories than you consume.   I have had doctors tell me that most people don’t understand that they can do more for themselves than a doctor or hospital can do for them.

I am the first to admit that now that I am closer to 50 than 40, eating right and staying physically fit have become a priority.  I am in a different season of life.  My eyesight has given in to reading glasses.  My pants’ waistline has attempted at times to go another size up.  I tend to want to sleep a little longer.  And on and on it goes as we get older.

I lived a very active life in my younger years of 35 and below.  Then I was in my corporate/work mode and lost my focus and desire to stay in shape.  So here we go again, setting goals and making a commitment to a healthier lifestyle.  Here’s what I have done to get reengaged:

1.  Started slow.  I heard about this one guy who had a plan for eating and exercise to kickstart my effort.  Go here and learn more.  http://www.fit2fat2fit.com/

2.  While I had initial success, life got in the way of my focus after 60 days.  It was then 6 months later that I restarted.  This time with quality stretching and daily jogging.  What started out as 1 mile without stopping has expanded to 3+ miles in 60 days.

3.   Now that my commitment level is back in line, I am going back to the fit2fat2fit game plan.  I needed to see myself exercising whether or not I had a program to follow.  If it was always about a program, then I wasn’t committing to myself.

4.  Working out in the early morning is my best method to stay committed.  Nothing interferes with my mornings.  I am talking about exercising for 30-50 min between 4:30 am – 6:30 am.  I believe in the philosophy that if I workout early, the burn lasts all day.

Get started, do something, sweat, drink water, change your diet little by little, find a partner, stretch well, push yourself, set goals, track your results.

How are you Wired?

Here’s a great collection of pics from the IL PTA State Convention.  What a fun group to train on communication and human behavior.

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When was the last time you DIY’d? (Did It Yourself)

858805_10200284202604534_1230103318_oSo often it seems easier just to pay or ask someone else to do it, but there is great satisfaction when you do it yourself.  On July 4th, my wife and son helped me to dig, prep and build this in-ground fire pit in our backyard.  It didn’t take a ton of planning nor money.  But it took effort and sweat.  I can honestly say that because of the effort and sweat, we are proud of the work we did and we want to enjoy it together with our family.  What project can you do alone or with your family that you could take pride in accomplishing?

 

How Do You Help Businesses/Organizations Improve?

Oftentimes, you will hear the word “excellence” in the mission or motto of an organization.  What is your role as the consumer to help them to achieve the excellence they desire?  Simply provide constructive feedback both positive and negative. No one improves or keeps doing the right things consistently unless they hear back from those they serve.

Recently, I have had a  challenge with an organization that I paid for service to be provided.  I was not satisfied with how they delivered the service nor with the outcome of the service.  As I evaluated the situation, I was informed their is a process in place to appeal the outcome and to request a refund.  What have I learned from taking part in this process?

1.  No one cares more about your situation and your challenges than you do.

2. Employers need to realize that when they allow their front-line employees to be part of the appeal process, that employee may not be well versed to communicate effectively with the customer.

3.  If an appeal process is available to the customer, the organization should provide a timeline regarding when they will respond and the steps available to the consumer so that delays do not occur.

4. It’s okay to talk by phone, but it is best to receive and communicate in writing so that you have proof and documentation.

5.  It is okay to be direct, but try your best not to get angry with the person to whom you are speaking.  If they cannot resolve your issue, ask for the next person in the chain of command.   Do not forget to do #4.  Document, document, document.

As I write this post, my story has not finished, but because of the amount of documentation over 1.5 months, the timeline I was able to provide the organization about their appeal process should help them improve towards their goal of “excellence.”

School is Starting, Time to launch S.A.F.E. TEAM Programs!

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I invite you to checkout Schools and Families Engaged (the S.A.F.E. Team on Campus).  Tell someone you know about this program that supports family engagement and a safe-learning environment in every school so all students can achieve academic success.

Don’t worry, I don’t have to be the presenter at your school to launch the program.  If I do show up, I am sure camo will be my choice of color.

Not a Rocket Scientist nor an Engineer

Scott may not be all that sharp, but he can follow this flowchart and have success.  

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