Impact, Not Numbers

I like numbers.  Maybe I like numbers too much.  So, initially, when I had my smallest crowd ever for the bladder cancer support group that I lead, I was a little bummed.  Ok, moderately bummed.  Yet we ended up being exactly the right place at exactly the right time for a new person who joined us who was just diagnosed and heard this was the place to go for answers.

As it turned out, the new person is having exactly the same kind of surgery that I had and wanted to know about the experience from a patient’s perspective, including all the details of the recovery process.  Since I like numbers, I usually like details, and new person got lots of details.  We actually threw away our script and agenda for the night and completely focused on new person.  BTW, HIPPA regulations do not allow me to say names or gender, this is way I am using “new person” references.

As I was driving home after the support group, I was no longer bummed at all about the numbers.  It is so easy to lose track of the purpose and focus on how many people show up, rather than the impact.  And I felt like we made an impact for this one, new person and isn’t that what a support group is all about? (Yes)

A good reminder this week that it’s about impact, not numbers.


A Boomer In Transition

My first job fair

So, I guess I am retired, yet today I attended my first job fair!  No, I am not looking for a job (although two company reps I talked to asked if I was interested in a  job – the answer was no), I attended the Private College Job Fair at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

This job fair had 260 employers looking to fill internships, part-time jobs, summer jobs, and full time career positions.  I attended today for two reasons:  1.  Just to observe and get the lay of the land so I can be better equipped to mentor students and connect them to opportunities and 2.  To bring my son so he could experience it and get some practice talking to company reps.  I also made several good connections with people at companies that had not been previously on my radar screen.

Over the course of the day, I talked to several of my students who attended and I was able to do some on-the-fly coaching from my observations and discussions.  If I learned anything today, it was that the opportunities are often on the road less traveled.  I spent most of my time connecting with companies who had literally no students talking to them, yet had openings!  Many of these companies are ones you have not heard of, certainly not the name-brand companies who had enormous lines of students waiting to talk to them.  Many of these companies are in areas like logistics, food distribution, banking(primarily small to medium sized), non-profit and government (also non-profit, if you were wondering).  I directed several students to talk to some of these firms, with no waiting, and no interest, but jobs!

The day was also an outstanding day with my son, who is a college sophomore.  The older I get, the more time I can spend with my kids, is time that I cherish.


A Boomer In Transition

My Perspective on Money

The market has been going down almost every day so far in 2016 and I don’t care.

Maybe I should care, but I have arrived at a peaceful place about money over the last year, that honestly I thought would be more challenging for me.  Admittedly, I don’t like to see the value of our portfolio go down every day, as it is certainly more fun to see bigger values than smaller values.  But if you do not take money out of the principal, why does the daily value matter?

One of my strengths is activator.  So when the market is down a lot, I want to do something about it.  Thinking you can time the market – like get out and then get back in at the exact right time has never been done by anyone over a long period of time, so this is not a good strategy.  I can buy into panics, knowing that it will be pure luck if I catch the low point, so I always keep some extra cash so that I can nibble away at companies that are being given away too cheaply.  The market now is panicky, but we have seen this movie, many, many times before.  When this happens, emotions run wild and people who were positive just two months ago, now think the world is coming to an end.  Will anyone ever buy another barrel of oil, probably, yet the oil markets act as if no one ever will.  Will anyone ever buy insurance again, probably, but insurance stocks are trading at near historic lows of 6 or 7 times earnings.  Yesterday, I turned dividend reinvestment back on in our main investment account and I refined my shopping list of individual companies that look too cheap.

Shifting mindset to think, wow, I can buy some really good companies at a much lower price than I could two months ago is key to success.  And then not beating yourself up if the market goes on sale even more.  If I have learned anything about the market over the past 35 years it’s this, the market often goes to extremes in both directions that are irrational.  It goes too low, which creates opportunity, and it goes too high, which creates nice portfolio values, but limited opportunity.

Lot’s of so-called experts are saying “beware of trying to catch a falling knife,” but the problem with this is you don’t know where the floor is.  In other words, it is an excuse to never buy on sale.  My shopping list is ready, some I may purchase too early, but I am finally finding great opportunities for the long run.

Buckle in for a wild ride again today!


A Boomer In Transition