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Inspire, Inform & Educate

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Giving Back

INSIDE

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Edition

Taking the Lead in the Community

Supporting Literacy and Creating an Educated Workforce By Christina R. Grochett Making literacy a community cause, and contributing to the foundation of society. PAGE 15

How to succeed as a small business owner Tips to help small business owners make changes to better their business. PAGE 20

Photography by Grady Carter

Charitable Contributions: When and how to give

MR. D-MARS & Texas Southern University President Dr. John M. Rudley

“The circle of giving back is necessary for a thriving community.”

MR. D-MARS & ??????????

By Patricia Haley A step by step guide on the do’s and don’ts of donating. PAGE 30

Danny McKinney Real Estate

Give, Give and Give Some More By Carla Lane Contributing to society and experiencing the great wealth of giving. PAGE 32

Texas Southern University... A Renaissance of Excellence Felix Powell Houston Plumbing & Gas

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Publisher’s Message

Keith J. Davis, Sr. SR. PUBLISHER Keith J. Davis, Sr. VICE PRESIDENT Kevin Davis JR. PUBLISHER Keith J. Davis, Jr. EDITOR-IN-CHIEF DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS Christopher P. Kirksey EDITING CONSULTANT ReShonda Tate-Billingsley ACCOUNTING MANAGER Eugenie Doualla

OPERATIONS COORDINATOR INTERN Josue Alvarado Ashriel Dunham SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Mike Jones C.T. Foster PHOTOGRAPHY Leon Galbreath Grady Carter

You often hear of professional athletes, successful business owners and community leaders emphasize the importance of giving back to the community that helped shape their careers. Understanding the value of philanthropic work will help determine the height of your success. In the midst of the Thanksgiving holiday, instead of focusing on “Giving Thanks,” this month’s issue is going to focus on “Giving Back.” This issue will feature articles on organizations and leaders who have given back to the community and offer tips on ways our readers can make positive contributions to society. Since its beginnings, d-mars.com has primarily been focused on giving back to the community. By providing the community with a concise and reliable resource for credible information, I have helped bring businesses, customers and communities together. This relationship is key to laying the foundation for our future generation of leaders and maintaining the “giving” cycle. Please continue to support our advertisers and the newest edition to the d-mars.com enterprise, the d-mars.com Health & Wellness Journal. Keep your eyes open for our Faith-Based Journal, scheduled to be released next month. It is because of your support that we are able to continue to bring you several quality papers, serving as a voice for our community.

CONTENTS Texas Southern University……………………………………….……............. 4-9 McKinney Real Estate & Investment………………………………................ 10

MARKETING CONSULTANTS Johnny Ray Davis, Jr.

Supporting Literacy and Creating an Educated Workforce…….................. 15

MULTIMEDIA DIRECTOR Andrea Hennekes

Invest in Your Community…………………………………………………........ 18

LAYOUT & GRAPHIC DESIGNERS Ghuzzala Malik (Faith) Myron Davis

How to Succeed as a Small Business Owner……………………………...... 20

DISTRIBUTION Booker T. Davis, Jr. Johnny Ray Davis, Jr. CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Brandale Mills Christina R. Grochett Mickey McGill Marilyn Logan Yolanda Gore Carla Lane Chris Hartwell Noel Pinnock David Jones Mari Walker T.Q. Doyle William McElrath Patricia Haley

Young African American Males’ Struggles to Succeed…………................. 17 It’s Jones Virus Season: Get Vaccinated……………………………….......... 19 Lets Get Organized…………………………………………………………....... 22 Financial Briefs………………………………………………………………...... 22 Reciprocity 101………………………………………………………………...... 29 Charitable Contributions: When and how to give…………………............... 30 Giving Back: At the Cost of Life…………………………………………........ 31 Give Give and Give Some More……………………………………………..... 32 Invisible Wounds......................................................................................... 34 Who’s Draining You? You?........................................................................... 41 MetLife Study: Family Structure.................................................................. 42 We Haven’t Changed Our Minds…………………………………………........ 43 Holiday Fun Can Be Affordable………………….…………………………..... 44 Cyber Stalking and the Law – Choosing to Empower Yourself………......... 46

MR. D-MARS D-MARS.com Business Journal Tip of the Month “In helping others, we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us.” – Flora Edwards

7322 Southwest Fwy, Suite 806 Houston, Texas 77074 713-272-9511 . Phone 713-272-6364 . Fax 1-800-453-8752 . Toll Free www.d-mars.com

“d-mars.com is certified with SBE, HUB, DBE & Port of Houston SBDP.”

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McKinney Real Estate & Investment: Turning a Negative Into a Positive By Brandale Mills, Contributing Writer

Danny McKinney Most people who are facing bankruptcy or foreclosures don’t see an immediate end in sight. In today’s economy, it becomes even more difficult to maintain mortgage payments or invest in ones financial future. One out of ten homeowners are delinquent on their mortgage. We anticipate another 7 million foreclosures over the next few years in America. McKinney Real Estate & Investment President/CEO, Danny McKinney, takes unfortunate situations like facing bankruptcy and foreclosure and turns a negative into a positive. McKinney Real Estate & Investment is a full service real estate company, managing real estate sales in the residential and commercial markets. The company lists and sells properties, also purchases Short Sales and REO’s, investing in that properties potential growth. “We buy pre-foreclosures and distressed properties. We buy homes going into foreclosure and negotiate with the bank for a Short Sale,” McKinney said. “Then we turn around and re-sale the property to a new buyer at a discounted price, creating a win-win situation for the bank, the seller, and the new buyer.” WHAT IS A SHORT SALE? A “Short Sale” or “negotiated settlement” or “short pay” occurs when a Lender agrees to accept less than the amount owed to payoff a loan as an alternative to foreclosure. If the property is worth less than the amount owed on the loan, then even if the Lender forecloses and takes back the property, they know they are going to take a loss. We can often convince a Lender that they will “do betNov 25 - dec 25 2010

ter” if they take less than what is owed now rather than taking the property back by foreclosure and trying to sell it later. If you’re having problems making your mortgage payment due to a hardship beyond your control, we will consult with you and provide you with a free creative home solution guide to lead you in the direction you need to go depending on your financial situation, McKinney said. “A lot of properties are under market and undervalued,” McKinney said. “Most people don’t know what to do in those situations. They can’t sell the home because they owe more than what it is worth. That’s where we come in. ” Our company is revitalizing areas in Houston by purchasing and redeveloping property and real estate in all communities including the African-American community, McKinney said. “Many people are facing financial problems because of the economy,” he said. “We tend to focus on helping those people by lifting the burden of those experiencing economic stress due to divorce, loss of income or an untimely death in family, by buying their home to prevent a foreclosure from appearing on there credit which will help them in the long run. Or if you just want to sell for some Quick Cash we can close in 7 days. In addition to helping home owners avoid foreclosure, McKinney also teaches people in becoming private lenders. Through his private lending program, if you’re not earning above average returns, 6% -12%+ annually on your investment dollars then you should consider participating in our Private Lending program. Mckinney created the Private Lending opportunity for people who want to help restore communities while at the same time put their investment funds in a safe, secure real estate investment and earn very high returns. McKinney educates people on how they can invest in real estate as a private lender., “Our private lending program allows them to earn additional income and help their community,” McKinney said.

Equipped with his B.A. in Finance from Hutson-Tillotson College and a Law Degree from the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University, McKinney has been a real estate professional for over 20 years. “There are peaks and valleys in all businesses,” he said. “In 2007, I had to revamp the structure of the business and go in a different direction, but I’ve still been able to focus my energy on providing better solutions to those facing foreclosure.” Most people look at the real estate market as a down market. I tend to see the need to help people who are having hardships in their homeownership and provide solutions for those individuals. As our economy continues to struggle the foreclosures continue to rise. That’s an opportunity for me to help people out of their hardship. McKinney said he has self-taught himself a lot of the do’s and don’ts in his profession. There’s enough information to access to educate yourself on anything. Those who are successful are those who put what they learn into action, he said.

“You have to be able to adapt and improvise, especially in my industry,” McKinney said. “As the market changes, you have to change with it.”

Using Expertise to Give Back As a executive board member of the Houston Real Estate Association, which is the Houston chapter of the National Association of real estate brokers. McKinney primarily focuses his role on bringing real estate education to diverse communities. “There is a vast difference of basic knowledge compared to other communities in financial awareness, real estate development and wealth benefits,” McKinney said. Working with the Houston Real Estate Association has enabled McKinney to facilitate free homebuyer classes, speak at area schools about careers in real estate and educate the community on real estate issues. “It’s truly an excellent organization and I am glad that I am a part of it,” McKinney said.

The Road to Success Growing up in Houston, McKinney understood at an early age the importance of hard work and the sacrifices needed in order to be successful. www.

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Supporting Literacy and Creating an Educated Workforce By Christina Robinson Grochett, University of Phoenix – Houston Vice President

• 11.3 percent of children ages 6-17 in Texas have repeated at least one grade. • Texas is among the bottom four states for daily reading rates to young children. (Studies show that reading to children helps develop critical thinking skills.)

Influence by Houston Woman Magazine and one of the Top 10 business women by University of Phoenix, which is the American Business Women’s Association the official education partner of the in 2008. Under her leadership, the Houston Houston Rockets, selected literacy as its campuses were selected as a 2009 Best Place

The Importance of Giving Back

and were awarded with the 2010, 2009 and 2008 Alfred P. Sloan Awards from the City of Houston for Workplace Flexibility and Innovation.

community cause because of the longterm benefits. Reading is a fundamental building block that sets students up for success in school and results in a more positive attitude toward education. With that positive attitude students are more likely to continue their academic journey through college and beyond. The power of education belongs to everyone and University of Phoenix is committed to supporting education at all levels. Ultimately, this partnership and literacy initiative will strengthen our community and create the next generation of leaders.

CHRISTINA R. GROCHETT

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y 2018 there will be 46.8 million job openings, of which 63 percent will require a form of postsecondary education, according to a study released in June by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. Currently, approximately 59 percent of jobs require post-secondary education. The Center predicts the nation will need 22 million new college degrees, but will fall short by at least three million. (For more information about the study, visit: http://cew.georgetown.edu/jobs2018/) The demand for a better-educated workforce is largely attributed to the increased use of technology, which is now required in nearly every industry. This report is aligned with President Barack Obama’s goal to have the best educated and most competitive workforce in the world by 2020. Reading skills are the foundation of a good education. Children who don’t develop their reading skills, often struggle later in life and are unlikely to continue their education. Low literacy levels also directly affect the business climate and economic growth of a community. Low literacy levels can limit company efficiency and increase operating costs by forcing employers to spend more on training and development. Unfortunately, 72 percent of fourth-grade students in Texas read below a proficient level, according to a 2009 report from the National Center for Education Statistics. In fact:

partnered to instill the importance of reading and education in local youth. The “Read to Achieve Challenge” aims to help young students develop their reading skills and encourage adults to regularly read to children. The program, which uses incentives to inspire students to read by themselves or with parents between November 8 and December 13, 2010, will award prizes to the student and school with the most reading minutes. Last month, the Houston Rockets and University of Phoenix hosted a kickoff event at the Toyota Center where players read books to approximately 200 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students. In February, the Rockets and the University will reveal the results and celebrate all participants at a Jam Fest Rally. was selected as one of the 2010 Women of to Work by The Houston Business Journal

Low reading proficiency affects student development and ultimately, adult Christina Robinson Grochett is the behavior and future employment. To State Vice President/ Director of South Texas improve local literacy rates, University for University of Phoenix. An accomplished of Phoenix and the Houston Rockets leader and champion of higher learning, she Nov 25 - dec 25 2010

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Young African American Males’ Struggles to Succeed

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oung African American males continue to be in crisis. While there are several committed organizations in the greater Houston area, such as the 100 Black Men, additional organizations are needed to address the needs of these young men to ensure survival educationally, socially and morally.

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority’s Houston Alumnae Chapter (HAC) has answered this call by launching a program called EMBODI (Empowering Males to Build Opportunities to Develop Independence). HAC hosted the first of many meetings on Saturday, September 18, 2010 at One Delta Plaza located at 3333 Old Spanish Trail. Approximately twentytwo young men attended and were empowered by Houston native, DeVale Simmons, the keynote speaker. DeVale is a dynamic spiritual leader, motivational speaker and author(Let Them Come: Remove the Barriers!) who has established himself as a youth advocate. His strong interactive address focused on three key points: 1) “Be You”; 2) “Be a Leader”; and 3) “Dream Big”.

Left to Right: Charles Savage (Executive Director, Fifth Ward Enrichment Program); Matthew Deer (Fifth Ward Enrichment DeVale Simmon’s key points Program); Lavarvia Jones (Fifth Ward Enrichment Program); to participants: Carolyn Grant (Houston Alumnae Chapter); DeVale Simmons 1. Be You (Keynote Speaker); George Davis (Simmons’Business Manager/ 2. Be a Leader 3. Dream Big Consultant)

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and emotionally (low self esteem and mental health issues). HAC’s scheduled program agenda includes collaboration with community organizations, middle/ high schools, churches, fraternities, sororities, entrepreneurs, universities, professional sports teams and corporate African American male professionals. The following calendar details future monthly EMBODI meetings to be held at One Delta Plaza; 10:00 a.m. to noon.

Topic/Activity

Presenter(s)

December 18, 2010

Christmas Celebratory Event

Various male professionals

January 15, 2011

Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebratory Event

Mayor Prairie View, Honorable Frank Jackson

February 19, 2011

Black History Month Pending Celebratory Event

March 19, 2011

Mini Lock in at One Delta Plaza

Rho Beta Beta Chapter (Omega Psi Phi Fraternity)

April 16, 2011

Career Fair

Various male professionals

May 21, 2011

Culminating Event 2010/11 school year

HAC’s EMBODI Committee

Direct all questions regarding EM- 713-906-0715 or grant2252@aol.com. BODI and scheduled events to Carolyn Delta Sigma Theta Sorority is commitGrant (Houston Alumnae Chapter) at ted to making a difference.

Fashion for Your Figure Lifestyle expert Amy Sewell, of Do you spend a lot of time shopping for clothes that you hardly ever Shop with Style, has some tips to help wear? If so, you’re not alone. Most you put your shopping time to good use women spend an average of three years by finding fashion that suits your figure. of their lives shopping, according to a • The Perfect Suit. Choose a jacket recent survey by global online market with small pads to define your researcher OnePoll.com. And a poll by shoulders and a waist that is slightly MyCelebrityFashion.co.uk found that fitted to give you a womanly curve. 25 percent of women only wear 10 perPants with a flat front and slightlycent of the clothes they own; while 91 flared legs will minimize the tummy percent have an item in the closet that and create a longer, leaner look. Astill has the tags on. Nov 25 - dec 25 2010

The Fifth Ward Enrichment Program supported this event by bringing young men from E. O. Smith Middle School and Kashmere High School. Additional participants were brought by their parents, grandparents, neighbor, church member or friend. EMBODI was conceived to address data that suggests African American males are being unsuccessful educationally (lack of success in school and high drop-out rates), socially (incarceration),

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line skirts offer good camouflage for fuller hips and thighs; skirt lengths that hit at or just below the knee flatter most figures.

heavier than you are. You won’t fool anyone by stuffing yourself into a smaller size or hiding your body under loose fabric.

• Keep It Monochromatic. Wearing the same color from head to toe creates the illusion of one long, unbroken line, making you appear slimmer. Think neutrals: black, camel, cream, dark brown.

• Smooth Foundations. Wear pants and skirts with built-in shapewear to alleviate the hassle of extra layers that can create bunching throughout the day. Ming Wang has created a line of Slendersize bottoms with built-in shapewear that works to smooth and contour all body types. Since Slendersize pants and skirts are available in both black and white, they can form the foundation of your wardrobe from season to season.

• Skim, Not Skin. Clothing should skim your curves, so look for fabrics that drape in a flattering way. Heavy fabrics will hide your shape, while super-sheer fabrics and spandex reveal a little too much. Knitwear line Ming Wang is a perfect wrinkle-free and shape-retentive For more on Amy Sewell, visit www. clothing option. shopwithstyle.net. To see the latest flattering • Fit Is Key. Buy clothing that actual- fashions from Ming Wang, visit www.mingly fits your body. Anything too large wangknits.com. or too small will make you look 17.


Invest In Your Community:

Giving Back to the Community Has Tangible Benefits

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iving back to your community is a great way to help support your business. Nonprofit organizations, volunteer groups and religious organizations do so much to help the communities that all of us are a part of, but they can’t do it alone. They need your help. As successful members of the community, we have a responsibility to help those that are less fortunate and contribute to the common good. I feel this so strongly that it’s been a longstanding practice of mine to donate approximately 10 percent of my income to

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charitable organizations. In some years, I admit, this has been a lot less money than other years, but every little bit truly helps when it comes to good works. If you are not able to give money, then give time, volunteering with local organizations that were able to use your skills. There are so many organizations that need a pair of helping hands - especially a pair of helping hands that are regularly available. You will really enjoy the intangible benefit of giving. Giving back to the community gives you a pleasant feeling of connectedness and the satisfaction of at least trying to make the world a

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better place. There are tangible benefits to giving back to the community, too. For one thing, if you give enough, you’ll be able to use the charitable deduction on your income tax. For another, giving back to the community can raise your business’ profile and even bring you more customers or clients. During this season local newspaper are filled with photos of business people presenting checks to the directors of charitable organizations, which is great publicity. Many businesses even include their charitable work in their advertisements, adding copy such as “5 percent

of sales will be donated to (specific charity)”, or sponsor particular charitable events. Potential customers like the sense of being able to combine their pleasure in patronizing a business with the pleasurable sense of helping others. Perhaps in the holiday season, more than at any other time, our hearts go out to others. But there are always those who are less fortunate than we are and will appreciate our help all year round. Give what you can regularly to the charities that make a difference to your local and national community. You may be surprised at the benefits you reap!

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It’s Jones Virus Season: Get Vaccinated ly destroys families on a daily basis. Modest living does work! Paying on time is paramount – increases in interest rates and late fees are savings destroyers. So, while getting vaccinated during these winter months, remember to get financially vaccinated for the Jones Virus and help stop the spread of financial illiteracy because this disease, unlike some others, does have a cure. Now, get your money right!

Marilyn Logan

By Marilyn Logan, Contributing Writer On “Our Street”, unemployment is above 9.5 percent and the average household net worth (total assets – total liabilities) of an African-American family ranges between $6,700 to just under $10,000 depending on what study you examine. And, the buying power of the African-American community just surpassed the one trillion dollar mark - up from $810 billion a few years ago, during a recession! Compare that to about $80,000 to $90,000 for the average net worth of a white American family and one can see that a financial epidemic is negatively impacting our community. Just like HIV, there is another insidious virus running amok in our society and few seem to be taking note. I call it the Jones Virus! The signs and symptoms vary but it has been known to cause one to develop a fever for rolling on “spinners” instead of rolling out an IRA – individual retirement account! Or, cause one to indulge on a CLK and feel averse to and nauseated about investing in a 401(K). The infection is also notorious for eating away at a person’s bottom-line without them really feeling any symptoms or seeing any outward signs until an Nov 25 - dec 25 2010

economic hiccup or cough occurs. Are you getting the picture? Could this be you? Are you immune? Are you infected with the Jones Virus? In order to make this infection of consumerism obsolete, we will have to tackle this economic epidemic with the resolve of our depression-era ancestors and eventually get financially vaccinated. I have been doing my research and here are some key money protein components housed in the Jones Virus vaccine:

Author – Motivational Speaker “I Can’t Afford to Marry You” A guide to understanding the true cost of love.

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www.marilynlogan.com QUESTIONS: Send all Money & Relationship questions to marilyn@marilynlogan.com. Your question may be answered in the next issue.

Host of “The Money Lady Show” Hcctv@hccs.edu – Channel 19 Mon/Wed @ 3:30 p.m.

“Less is more” protein Our grandparents would never spend a whole check on a purse. They valued the difference between a “need” and a “want”. When they received extra money, their first thought was how to save it where our generation typically thinks of how to spend it. Since when did we need 5 bedrooms for a family of five? – It is okay for children to share a bedroom. Less really, really, really is more!

Paper protein Debit and credit cards have given us a sense that the pool of money is limitless. Using cash more allows one to tangibly feel “the pain of paying”. Studies continue to illustrate that people spend less when they use cash versus credit cards. One study showed that persons – of the same economic strata - auctioning for an item with a credit card versus those using cash had a bid twice as high.

Choice protein Even people living pay check to pay check have found ways to successfully save. We must choose to pay down debt aggressively or risk becoming sick with the fever of creditors. One less manicure or one less meal out won’t kill you, but the Jones Virus continualwww.

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How to Succeed as a Small Business Owner A move to a new city provided her a chance to start her own consulting business, building from the experience she received from her employment in large human resource departments. “Starting my company was not a tough decision, it was learning how to maintain and grow my company to where I wanted it to be that I needed help with,” said Binks, president and owner of HR Consulting Solutions Binks was not alone in needing help. The Small Business Administration says 50 percent of all small businesses fail within the first five years. expert help. better their business: But, according to a Dun Binks found that help through the • Target your Audience - It’s tempt(Family Features) Michelle Binks and Bradstreet study, 90 percent of suc- Business Accelerator Program, a free ing to try a little bit of every type has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. cessful businesses say they sought out program provided by American Family of advertising that’s offered to you. Insurance that uses nationally recognized But with limited budgets, entrepresmall business experts to help small busineurs end up with a tiny presence ness owners succeed. in each. Instead, select a few me“What’s great about the Business diums that really reach your target Accelerator Program is the specificity it audience and that you can afford to provides for individual companies,” said establish a presence in by using freBinks. “When starting my business, I quency and larger visuals. didn’t realize the huge importance of • Set Goals - What is your higher sales and marketing, but the Business purpose for being a small business Accelerator experts worked with me perowner? What matters most to you? sonally and covered these areas in a way Write down your answers and keep that I could apply to my business and them close at hand. Share them make a difference to my bottom line.” with your business partners, allies She is just one small business ownand friends. Remind yourself of er who has seen the positive growth in them when you pick up the phone, their business because of the program. when you face rejection, when you “Entrepreneurs face new challenges squeeze in another sales call on the every day,” said Bob Wright, Wright way to pick up the kids. Business Institute founder and Busi• Sell Hope First - Many sales proness Accelerator career coach. “Overdue fessionals make the mistake of getpayments, materials that don’t arrive on ting caught up in trying to sell the time, employees who don’t show up for features and dimensions of their work, and more. It’s easy to feel daunted product first – rather than engagand become paralyzed. Often, just taking with the customer around their ing one small step in the right direction hopes and dreams, about what they will get things moving to really take off. hope to accomplish. It’s important The Business Accelerator program is to understand the bigger picture in a great step that will provide business positioning yourself with a client owners the tools to make those little and in the marketplace. changes that can immediately make a difference in their business.” To find out more about the Business AcThe Business Accelerator program celerator program, visit www.amfambusiexperts offer these tips to help small business owners make those changes to nessaccelerator.com Nov 25 - dec 25 2010

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Let’s Get Organized By Yolanda Gore, Contributing Writer Why do many people have a hard time with their day-to-day routine? The biggest problem is lack of organization. Organization is the biggest part to having a productive day-to-day routine. Of course, sometimes a curve ball is thrown at a person to get them off track. But if you’re organized, you should be able to bounce right back. The first step to becoming organized is to make a plan and put it in action. Create a schedule of your daily activities. One of the greatest tools to being organized is having a planner. Rebecca Taylor, Coastal Carolina University Senior Education majors states that

having a planner keeps her organized. Taylor has been using a planner since her freshman year of college. She never leaves home without her planner. Another step to become organized is to keep your area neat and clean. Try to stay clear of clutter. Any and everything that you need to keep your desk clutter free can be purchased at any office supply store. It would also be a wise thing to invest in a paper shredder. Get rid of unnecessary papers and bills. If they are more than a year old, it’s a sure bet that you have received other notices since then. You may want to keep income taxes around for seven years before you get rid of them. It would also be great to invest in a file cabinet and safe deposit box to keep your most important documents

Financial Briefs Teaching kids the value of charitable giving Donating to charity is an important way to give back to those less fortunate. And, it’s important to teach kids early on the value of charitable giving. “The holiday season is a great time to teach your children the invaluable lesson of helping those in need,” says Irv Ashford, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs with Comerica Bank. “Whether it’s making a monetary donation to a charity, providing toys or used clothing or donating your time at a soup kitchen, there are many ways to help.” Ashford offers the following tips on ways to involve your child in the charitable giving process. Get your child interested. Teaching your child early on the importance of donating is key. Giving them praise and explaining how good it is to help others will get them excited about giving. Even if times are tough, you can Nov 25 - dec 25 2010

give a gently used toy or clothing your child has outgrown to another child that needs it. Volunteering is another way to help others, and a great opportunity for children to see the value of charitable giving first hand. You can bring them along to help in a soup kitchen or even participate in an event sponsored by a non-profit organization.” “Make sure you involve your child in the donation so they see where everything is going,” says Ashford. “If you are donating to an angel tree, bring them with you to place the gift there, or at the mall, let them put loose change into the Salvation Army bucket. They’ll feel good about it and will want to be more involved in future donations.” Communicate with your kids. “Children often mimic the activities and behavior of their parents or an older sibling,” Ashford explains. This means it’s a good idea to involve them in any volunteer work you do. This helps them understand the importance of giving www.

such as: birth certificates, passports, social security card, etc in it. If you don’t feel comfortable getting rid of a lot of your clutter, consider boxing things up and putting them out of reach so that you don’t risk tripping over them. Another way to become organized is to set aside at least 15 minutes a day to prioritize your surroundings. By doing this, you are creating a routine that will come natural to you after doing it a few times. It is very wise to focus on one area

at a time. You don’t want to get overwhelmed. Often times when a person becomes overwhelmed, they just give up. Whatever you do, don’t procrastinate. Procrastinating will only make it harder on you to become organized. Becoming organized doesn’t happen overnight. It will gradually become easier and easier. It is ok to take it nice and slow but, set guidelines and goals for yourself. By doing this, you will see a change in your organizational skills.

your time and energy to others, and may also make little ones more likely to want to help out too. Be sure to explain what you’re doing and why, and how their work can help others not only during the holiday season but throughout the whole year. Money and charitable giving. If your child has an allowance, encourage them to give a small portion to a charity of their choice. Have them put aside a set amount each week and bring them to the charity the money is going to so they can see how their money will be used. It’s important to tell your child where their money is going and why, and also to help them create a mini budget plan. “Charitable giving is a great way to teach your children how to become good financial stewards,” Ashford says. Charitable giving as an educational tool. Lots of learning takes place outside of the classroom, and there’s no reason why you can’t reinforce some skills kids learn at school through charitable

giving opportunities. Ashford explains that children will boost their math skills while trying to budget their money and reading comprehension skills if you let them research and learn about different charities. If they’re old enough to volunteer, this can further teach them about time management as well. The holiday season is a great time to show children how to give and be unselfish. As you might be preparing to spend time with loved ones, put aside a few hours per week with your kids to help others. If your kids are younger, encourage them to go through their toys and clothes and set time aside to sort out what they need and what they have outgrown. This will further teach them to be giving and to remember others even at the most family-centric time of year. For more information, contact Kristin Arena at kristin@allynmedia.com or 214.871.7723.

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By Carla Lane, Contributing Writer I admit this was a big mistake….BUT, I went looking for a job with my best friend. I suggested we fill out applications for Company A, I called to see if we needed to schedule or interview or could just walk in, I scheduled the interviews, I helped her with her resume, I even drove us to the interview! SHE didn’t even want to go, and really doesn’t even want to work. BUT she got the job! They didn’t even check my references! They hired her within hours of our interviews! I have not even heard back from them. I think it’s because she is prettier and thinner than me (she is a size 4 and I am a size 16)! I am more qualified, have more experience, and I needed and wanted the job! By the way, this is just a job working at a front desk person for a party planning company. Do I have any recourse against the company? I know I am better qualified than she is. HELP! Under federal law, an emoutnumbered women 46% to 32 ployer doesn’t have to hire, %. And whites outnumbered nonor promote the most qualiwhites 41% to 24%. fied applicant. But the employer cannot The workers were also asked if they had base decisions on personal characteris- any relevant personal experience. tics that are not job-related. These char• 16% said that they had been the acteristics often include: victim of appearance-based dis• Age crimination. • Race • 38% of those said the discrimina• Sex tion was based on their overall • Religion appearance; 31% said it was their • National origin weight; and 14% said it was a reac• Disability tion to their hairstyle. The Employment Law Alliance’s • A third (33%) of those saying they “America At Work” poll asked 1,000 had been discriminated against said Americans about their views on appearit was for some other reason. ance-based discrimination. I am sure you have heard the sayMajor findings of the poll were: ing, “..beauty is in the eye of the be• 39% said employers should have holder..” the unfortunate truth is the right to deny employment to most beholders tend to agree on what someone based on appearance, in- is beautiful. A number of researchers cluding weight, clothing, piercing, have independently found that, when people are asked to rate an individual’s body art, or hair style. attractiveness, their responses are quite • 33% said that in their own workconsistent, even across race, sex, age, place workers who are physically class and cultural background. Facial attractive are more likely to be symmetry and unblemished skin are hired and promoted. universally admired. Men get a bump • 33% said workers who are unat- for height, women are favored if they tractive, overweight, or generally have hourglass figures, and non whites look or dress unconventionally, get points for light skin color, European should be given special government facial characteristics and conventionally legal protection such as that given “white” hairstyles. persons with disabilities. Among the key findings of a quar• Of the 39% who said employ- ter-century’s worth of research: Unaters should have the right to deny tractive people are less likely to be hired employment based on looks, men and promoted, and they earn lower Nov 25 - dec 25 2010

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salaries, even in fields in which looks have no obvious relationship to professional duties. (In one study, economists Jeff Biddle and Daniel Hamermesh estimated that for lawyers, such prejudice can translate to a pay cut of as much as 12 percent.) When researchers ask people to evaluate written essays, the same material receives lower ratings for ideas, style and creativity when an accompanying photograph shows a less attractive author. Good-looking professors get better course evaluations from students; teachers in turn rate good-looking students as more intelligent. Not even justice is blind. In studies that simulate legal proceedings, unattractive plaintiffs receive lower damage awards. Two researchers at Cornell University, gave students case studies involving real criminal defendants and asked them to come to a verdict and a punishment for each. The students gave unattractive defendants prison sentences that were, on average, 22 months longer than those they gave to attractive defendants. Just like racial or gender discrimination, discrimination based on irrelevant physical characteristics reinforces stereotypes and undermines equal-opportunity principles based on merit and performance. And when grooming choices come into play, such bias can also restrict personal freedom. Such practices can violate the law if they disproportionately exclude groups protected by civil rights statutes -- hence the sex discrimination suit. Abercrombie & Fitch’s notorious efforts to project what it called a “classic American” look led to a race discrimination settlement on behalf of minority job-seekers who said they were turned down for positions on the sales floor. But unless the victims of appearance bias belong to groups already protected by civil rights laws, they have no legal remedy. As the history of civil rights legislation suggests, customer preferences should not be a defense for prejudice.

During the early civil rights era, employers in the South often argued that hiring African Americans would be financially ruinous; white customers, they said, would take their business elsewhere. In rejecting this logic, Congress and the courts recognized that customer preferences often reflect and reinforce precisely the attitudes that society is seeking to eliminate. Over the decades, we’ve seen that the most effective way of combating prejudice is to deprive people of the option to indulge it. Discrimination according to physical appearance, whether based on height, weight or general attractiveness is unfortunately, a fact of life. This form of discrimination results in increased income and opportunities for attractive persons and lower pay, an increased chance of poverty, and reduced opportunities for those considered unattractive. While legislation such as the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the ADA may help to alleviate some forms of appearance discrimination in the workplace, it is questionable whether they can provide a remedy for all forms or in all situations and whether they should even try. Further, given the stigma attached to unattractiveness, few will want to claim that status in public litigation. And in the vast majority of cases, the cost of filing suit and the difficulty of proving discrimination are likely to be prohibitive. But stricter anti-discrimination laws could play a modest role in advancing healthier and more inclusive ideals of attractiveness. At the very least, such laws could reflect our principles of equal opportunity and raise our collective consciousness when we fall short. Finally, my suggestion to you is this, seek employment from companies that will value your gifts and talents and want to put them to work for them. Surround yourself with people that make you feel beautiful inside and out and know that true beauty is felt with that heart, not seen with the eyes!

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Reciprocity

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and out of season). Do not just say I am going to pray for Brother John Doe or Sister Jan Doe…take the time to pray without delay. In these uncertain times, we need to say more than God bless you! 2. Iron up – some people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could, so reach out and help another person attain a career goal or objective. King Solomon once wrote, “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” (KJV)

tain academic area, rather than just getting them a bathrobe or slippers, get them information and possibly tickets to a speaker that is coming to town. Compliment your neighbor on a “yard-well-done”…send a hand written note (text messages and emails do not count) to an employee who completed the project on time and under budget.

We do not need a season to begin giving back because if you have the opportunity to get up in the morning, then that is reason enough because when you do it unto the least of them, you are really doing it unto God...so, have fun 3. Be creative - maybe you have a giving back because one day someone relative who is interested in a cer- will give back to you!

pursue a career at helping others begin their reading journey. We call or refer to those individuals as teachers. People oftentimes approach me after I give a speech or present a training session and ask me do I minister or preach at a church. I am always flattered; however, my typical response is two-fold and centered on the two types of ministers in the world, ministers by profession and influence. In either case, By Author Noel Pinnock, we are all ministers. Likewise, we are all B.S., M.P.A., C.A., CCC teachers because we have an influence Contributing Writer (positive or negative) on everyone we come in contact with on a moment-byIn 1766, the world was introduced moment basis. Susan Skog once wrote: to the word “rec-i-proc-i-ty”. Reci“There’s a deep wave of grassroots procity has known synonyms such as giving back sweeping the country. A cooperation, exchange, mutuality, or surge of people across all age groups is interchange. The short definition can volunteering like never before. But givbe summed up in two words, “giving ing back doesn’t mean that you don’t back.” In this edition of D-mars Busi- get anything in return. Helping others ness Journal, the emphasis has been reach for a new day rejuvenates us in placed on the essentials of giving back. I ways that another margarita-soaked vaam a strong advocate of reciprocity and cation, more stuff, a fatter resume, or a it is incumbent upon everyone to under- supersized house can’t begin to. We want stand that there is true value in helping to feel useful. We want to find meaning. others and giving back. In fact, many of We want to feel this alive and on fire you who will read this article are able with possibility.” to read because someone in your past Here are three simple ways you can (home, school, etc.) decided to reach give back from finding your true calling out and help you. He or she took the to boosting your overall sense of joy: time to teach you the rudiments of discerning the alphabet, interpreting sym- 1. Join a prayer group – prayer is an bols, and reading for understanding and essential component of our exiscomprehension. It was not long before tences as well as our destiny. Interyou mastered it and could understand cessory prayer has been the bedrock the most complicated literature. Some of our salvation and our country’s of us decided that it was simply enough freedom, so why not fall on bended to learn the skill while others chose to knees for someone else (in season Nov 25 - dec 25 2010

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By Mickey McGill Financial Advisor Houston Contributing Writer In the course of a year, most of us donate a certain percentage of our income to charitable organizations. The only real questions are “when?” and “how?” to give. Like most things financial, you can increase the impact of your charitable donations if you have a plan in place.

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Include charitable giving in your budget. Rather than giving when the mood strikes, make a commitment to giving in your monthly budget. After setting aside savings for your future, allocate an amount you can afford to give. Putting your giving goals on paper can help you be more intentional about your giving and allows you to increase or decrease your cash donations based on your financial circumstances. Zoom in on nonprofits whose missions match your values. From saving the whales, to providing mosquito netting in malaria-prone areas, to funding a food shelf — there are countless worthwhile causes you could support. Focus first on one or two whose work is near and dear to your heart. Learn more about each charity to make sure you agree with the organization’s goals and activities. Evaluate the financial health of your favorite charity. Not all nonprofit organizations are disciplined in their business practices. Take time to learn

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how your charity of choice is organized and run. How will your money be spent? Check to see that the organizations you support are doing their best to keep operational costs to a minimum so that the majority of the money they raise goes toward making a difference versus soliciting donations or paying the rent. Stretch your giving. Giving that has an element of sacrifice tends to be more meaningful for the giver. Set a goal to increase your giving if you’re not where you’d like to be yet. Consider reducing spending in another area of your budget to increase your giving. Give in more ways than one. It feels good to give — and even better when the giving is hands-on and personal. Get involved with the charities that matter to you. In addition to writing a check, consider giving your time and talents. You might also be able to donate stock or other items of value. Get advice. Talk to your financial advisor about how your charitable giving

fits into your overall financial plan. Your tax professional can also provide insight into tax advantages and other tax considerations related to charitable giving. Brokerage, investment and financial advisory services are made available through Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA and SIPC. Some products and services may not be available in all jurisdictions or to all clients. © 2010 Ameriprise Financial, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Giving Back: At the Cost of Life Your Purpose:

By Dr. D. L. Jones Contributing Writer When my first cousin Jonathan died of sudden heart failure in his early thirties, my entire family was shocked and devastated. He was a quiet and gracious young man, and when it came to giving to others, he topped the chart. His spirit of generosity was evident throughout his entire life: he was a person who lived to give. Not surprising, when he passed away his mother informed us that he had donated his vital organs long before he died. This is an ultimate display of someone who lived and died to give back. If you have the desire to help others in life then the logical solution is for you to start giving back; even at the cost of life. If you agree, this article is a must read for you. This is the stage where I am in my life. I always sought and prayed for a purpose that was bigger than me. For the past twenty years I’ve been toiling in the fields of education and ministry. Many of my former students and those touched by my ministry have shared their appreciation and thankfulness throughout the years. Wherever life takes me, I always want to give back in hopes to make this world a better place. If you would like to journey with me on this path of giving back, I would be honored to have you join me in creating a life of purpose by design. There obviously has to be a plan in place to accomplish this but more importantly there has to be a willingness to take action to reach the desired goal. Nov 25 - dec 25 2010

I would like to start with the end result first, which is your purpose. This will vary from one person to the next and it will be a very personal. Allow yourself to dream of what it is that you would like to do to help others and come to this conclusion with the thought that your life and finances would not be an object. Diligently pray about this be- about helping others. To see the world it not only to yourself but the many that cause it will be the driving force behind as an abundant place - not one of lack are in need of your help. Just rememyour actions. will take you to the people and resources ber that you must first get started before needed to help others. anyone will be the benefactor of your Get Started: Whatever it might be that you GIVING BACK! This brings me to the part of the would like to do to help others; you owe equation that will make or break your plan of achieving success. From time to Let us Promote your Business, Your time we all have had good intentions Event, or You! Advertise today in that have never come to fruition. If you looked back at an example of a good inD-MARS Business Journal tention, what was it that made it only a thought? The answer for me plain and Call US TODAY! simple would be the absence of getting started. It is our free will whether or not we choose to get started. The saying “it was the thought that counts� has some merit. However, you must take it a step further by giving it some weight and animation to find the impact of how success comes into play. Getting started will give you a sense of aliveness that will benefit more people and situations that you might never come to know.

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Develop A Plan: In order to be successful in life you have to be passionate about what you are doing. You need to find a vehicle that will assist you in reaching your goals and must resonate favorably with your mission to help others. When you are in a harmonious state of mind, more things have a tendency to work out in a positive way. It is very important to want to grow and empower yourself, spiritually, emotionally, physically, and mentally. Your personal success will be unparalleled once you obtain a balanced life while giving back to others. How do you do this? First, align yourself with others that are already giving back and learn as much as possible from them. Choosing to include mostly successful like minded people in your circle of friends will greatly contribute to your success. Having an attitude of giving is paramount as you must live, think, talk, and dream www.

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Give, Give and Give Some More By Carla Lane, Contributing Writer

“You make a living by what you get, you make a life by what you give.” --Winston Churchill As a business owner I am often asked many questions, but the two questions I am most often asked are, “ Why do you spend so much money and time for charitable causes?” And “How did your firm experience such phenomenal growth in such a short amount of time?” I believe the two questions are connected, one the cause the other the effect. To put it simply, BECAUSE I participate in my community and try to always GIVE more than I RECEIVE, my firm experienced phenomenal growth over a very short period of time. Switch your outlook by focusing on how and what you can give instead of what you will receive. When you learn to give, you elevate yourself. Business opportunities and ideas will appear when you think about how you can help make other people’s lives better, easier, happier. And as you give, you will be rewarded. I was always told by my parents to live life with an open hand, sure the takers will take but the givers will give. If your hand is always closed trying to hold on to what you “think” is yours no one can put anything in it, no one can gift you. What they were saying, is holding on to wealth is like trying to grip sand, the tighter you try to hold on to it, the more slips through your hand. Giving anything of yourself allows more room for you to receive. The possibilities that come to you when you Nov 25 - dec 25 2010

give are endless. Perhaps the greatest gift is from the very act of giving, that gift is the lesson that you have more than you’ll ever need. In this respect, giving of yourself teaches you to be more thankful for what you do have, rather than focus on all the things you don’t have. I remember in elementary school having a friend who sometimes didn’t have any lunch money. She had 5 brothers and sisters, and her family didn’t have a lot. Because she was my friend, I always shared my lunch with her. But, I would be starving by the time I got home, after a while my mom asked me if I was eating lunch at school. I confessed that I had been sharing my lunch with my friend. My mom just nodded her head, but the next day when I opened my lunch, I had an extra sandwich and an extra pickle!(I love pickles I have to confess I kept the extra pickle for myself but she got her sandwich!) This concept has carried through my life. If you give from your heart you can and likely will receive blessings beyond what you could ever ask or think. Here are a few thoughts to consider:

“There is a wonderful mythical law of nature that the three things we crave most in life -- happiness, freedom, and peace of mind -- are always attained by giving them to someone else.” --Peyton Conway March If you are religious--whether you follow Christianity, Islam, Judiasm or any other religion--you are called to give. Even if you are atheist or agnostic, the spiritual principal of giving is prob-

ably important to you. “You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” --2 Corinthians 9:11 Happy Thanksgiving! Peace & Blessings, Carla

People are remembered not for being rich, but for what they contributed to society while they were alive. Not all of us can dramatically impact society, but we can all give something back. When you die, no one (except perhaps your heirs) will know or care that you died rich. But you can change someone’s life by giving freely of your money and time. All the greatest wealth mentors have written about the power of giving. Napoleon Hill, Andrew Carnegie, W Clement Stone… As Confucius noted in The Analects, ‘You yourself desire rank and standing; then help others to get rank and standing. You want to turn your own merits to account; then help others to turn theirs to account.’ Giving literally makes you a magnet for whatever you give, be it money, love, time, peace, or joy. This may sound like new-age foolishness, but I have found it to be seriously true. The more you cling to wealth (just like fame or love), the more it will elude you and the less satisfied you’ll be with your current circumstance. So if you want to be wealthy, spread the wealth! www.

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Invisible Wounds By Pastor Chris Hartwell Contributing Writer

things: Can I trust you, do you care, and can you help me? Our calling will lead us to the intersection where our past misery will meet someone else’s present need. The need in their lives will take precedence over the bleeding in ours. Lately we settle for a religious experience but no change. This suggests that we gather for excitement and not empowerment. Often times when we experience tragedy we medicate our minds with unhealthy habits to make the memories more manageable. The means of coping is worse than the actual experience of misfortune; there is a stigma that you can get help if you come to church; reluctant to tell people we have a problem we explore breakthroughs in other places; we keep taking hit after hit; repeating the experience as a flashback over and over again; having difficulty letting go of some of things you witnessed; it keeps taking you back to the initial place of the original trauma; we attempt an adjustment to the unjustified suffering we conclude with monotonous misery. We have an illusion of self-sufficiency; we desire a warm, safe, predictable environment; but there is a dilemma, invisible wounds; pain impossible to ignore even in view of the promises of God; It’s hard to be optimistic when everything seems so dark; the problems and hard ships we endure require more than words and eloquent phrases. It’s the constant rebuilding of trust with damaged goods. In the grocery store they mark the price down on damaged goods for quick sale because the injuries have caused it to lose some of its value. The product is not worth as much as it used to. In spite of our inherent worthlessness and empty self-righteousness, God finds worth in us. God can use the undesirable and the intolerable to build His kingdom.

Our exterior does not always look like our interior. As long as the difficulty does not interfere with our agenda, we will keep covering it up and remain frustrated, confused, discouraged and desperate. Our pain has enrolled us in a challenging course that will earn us an advanced degree in the reality of brokenness. When people gather in worship centers they want to know three things: Can I trust you, do you care, and can you help me? Psychologists quote a case of a girl who played the piano in a cinema in the days of the silent films. Normally she was quite well, but immediately the lights went out and cigarette smoke filled the auditorium she began to be paralyzed. She fought against it, but at last the paralysis became permanent and something had to be done. Examination revealed no physical cause whatever. Under hypnosis it was discovered that when she was very young, only a few weeks old, she had been lying in one of those elaborate old-fashioned cots with an arch of lace over it. Her mother had bent over her smoking a cigarette. The draperies had caught fire. It was immediately extinguished and no physical hurt was done to her but her sub-conscious mind was remembering this terror. The dark plus the smell of the cigarette smoke in For more information please visit www. the cinema acted on the unconscious hartwellministries.org or email pastor Chris mind and paralyzed her body—and she at pastorchartwell@gmail.com. did not know why. A noted philosopher by the name of John Paul Satre wrote a book entitled No Exits. In this book he gives an image of people who are locked in a room together with none of the same interest and no exits. Satre concludes, “Hell can be other people.” When people gather in our worship centers they want to know three Nov 25 - dec 25 2010

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THE EXPERT NETWORK

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THE EXPERT NETWORK

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THE EXPERT NETWORK

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THE EXPERT NETWORK

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THE EXPERT NETWORK

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Who’s Draining You? You?

contend with and resolve. • After investing $1500 in that musical instrument, I will try it out one day. • I don’t want my less-motivated friends to think I’m better than them. • My faith and belief in myself changes by the day.

from life in farming, and achieved their • Success is meant for others, not me. goals with limited resources. They are the epitome of people who see beyond • I did not see the results of my efthe present to realize that the world sits forts within a few weeks so I gave up. in their hands. Frankly, I possess true happiness • I never had anything and will never for anyone who attains a challenging have anything. goal in their lifetime. Be it getting that • I just don’t have the money. new home, starting a business, achieving a new promotion, becoming the And then there’s the all too comnext singing sensation, or becoming a mon, “I will pursue it as soon as I comlawyer – and doing so in the face of certain odds. The odds are prolific in that they T. Q. Doyle, Coach and Image are constantly present and reproduce as Consultant – MBA, SPHR we walk life’s journey. So why do we add Contributing Writer to them with excuses for not becoming “the one”? The excuses I’ve heard vary, Life is pretty grand for a popular as follows: TV weather caster on the West Coast, • I have a very busy social calendar an actor with a recurring role on a major that’s imperative to maintain. network sitcom, or an astronaut having • I must take care of my kids and can completed two Shuttle missions. They only focus on one thing at a time. are individuals that I claim as relatives • I just have too much (drama) to and a friend, who are two generations

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plete ‘X’. ” Well, life will never present the right moment to pursue our dreams and, you may recall my saying, we can drain our time and energy just thinking about it versus doing it. Truly, there are times when our best is just not enough. In these cases, we must persevere and do so with patience. This is the launch to that next level. As children of a higher being, we are called to consistently and foremost act with faith, prayer and obedience. This daily commitment WILL lead to discipline, godly living, and abundant rewards – ingredients to our success. The underlying message here is to prioritize the important elements of your life and always acknowledge them in that order. In doing so, you will maximize your world of opportunities.

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MetLife Study:

Family Structure Shapes Every Aspect of Mid-Lifer’s Retirement Planning, Income and Security

By Charles Swindell, Financial Services Representative MetLife Bayou City TX Agency Contributing Writer Can family structure dictate your level of financial comfort in retirement? A great deal of attention has been paid to the role that gender plays in retirement planning, but family structure is a critical and often overlooked component. A new study from MetLife’s Mature Market Institute shows that family dynamics strongly influence retirement planning for people in mid-life. The Family Matters study was developed to determine the degree to which family structure influences how people plan for retirement. It addressed three specific mid-life segments – ‘Traditional Families’ (two parents and children from their current relationship), ‘Blended Families’ (two parents with at least one child from a previous relationship) and ‘Single Women’ (widowed, divorced or never-married women with or without children). One of the Study’s central findings is that Blended Families and Single Women do not consider themselves prepared for what retirement holds. The majority of Traditional Families (55%) have a clear idea of what they hope to experience and achieve in retirement, compared with only 38% of Single Women and 48% of Blended Families. Similarly, nearly seven out of ten (66%) of Traditional Families feel at least somewhat prepared for retirement, compared to only 56% of Blended Families and 40% Nov 25 - dec 25 2010

of Single Women. Blended Families and Single Women also believe that their families face unique challenges when it comes to retirement planning specifically because of their family situation. Nearly two-thirds (62%) of Single Women and Blended Families (61%) think that it’s significantly more difficult for them to save for retirement than it is for their friends who have different family situations. Roughly one in five Blended Families and Single Women (19% and 18%, respectively) are concerned that they don’t have safeguards to ensure that an ex-spouse will not lay claim to their income or savings meant for themselves or their children. This sentiment is even higher among those that have experienced a divorce in the past five years. These recently-divorced respondents are also more concerned than their peers about having sufficient separate funds earmarked for their children’s inheritance. Single Women are more worried than their peers (38% vs. 27% of Blended Families and 23% of Traditional Families) that they will not have a set level of monthly income that lasts throughout their retirement. Many single female respondents, for instance, share the sentiment, “Because I am a widow, I do not have the buffer of a second income; it all falls on me.” A large number of Single Women respondents believe that the retirement savings imperative is higher for them than it is for those who are married. Despite this, Single Women are actually much less likely to own many common traditional savings or income products. The study also shows that some retirement issues transcend family structure. Healthcare is a critical issue for all. Roughly two-thirds (63%) of Traditional Families do not expect to have enough money to cover healthcare costs in retirement, as is the case with 69% of Single Women and 66% of Blended Families. Of the entire group surveyed, almost half (47%) identify a need for more savings and assets; 29% would like www.

a better gauge of both their routine and unpredictable retirement expenses. Retirement income and healthcare are two universal concerns for pre-retirees. The challenge for those in middle age is to make the unpredictable elements in their lives – the current and future needs of their children, the assets or income that go to an ex-spouse, their own healthcare and other costs – more manageable. More security with regard to income and assets would be of great help to them as they transition into retirement. Complex family structures add an extra level of unpredictability to retirement planning, and today’s middle-aged Americans are seeking ways to make their income last a lifetime and tools to support their goals. They are looking for professional planning and financial products for “families like theirs,” not just generic advice. For additional information on the tools MetLife can provide to ensure

that retirees from every kind of family structure can safeguard their retirement savings, or to view more on the MetLife Family Matters Study, please visit www. metlife.com or contact Charles Swindell at 832-251-5493, 10333 Richmond Ave Suite 1050, Houston, TX 77042. This article appears courtesy of Charles Swindell. Charles is a Registered Representative offering securities, including variable products through MetLife Securities, Inc. (MSI) (member FINRA/SIPC), New York, NY 10166. Insurance and annuities issued by Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (MLIC), New York, NY 10166. MSI and MLIC are MetLife companies. He focuses on meeting the individual insurance and financial services needs of people from all professions. You can reach Charles at the office at 10333 Richmond Ave Suite 1050, Houston, TX 77042 and 832251-5493.

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To change your outlook, you must first change your mindset.

By William McElrath Contributing Writer

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ooking back at our history as African Americans, we have read and heard about how our ancestors were stolen from their homeland, brought to a new world and forced into a new and different way of life. From the time of their capture, their hearts were being broken and minds slowly transformed. They had to endure the horrific conditions of being chained in the belly of a cold, filthy, cramped, dark, and wet ship for weeks. These conditions broke many hearts as some of them watched loved ones die on the journey to the new world. Once here this conditioning was intensified through a system called slavery. They were treated not as human beings, but as property being bought and sold to the highest bidder. This system separated husbands from wives, daughters from mothers and sons from fathers. Through separations and brutal punishments, the slave master was not only able to break the spirit of our ancestors; he was also able to control their thinking. They were constantly told they were not intelligent, could not think and lazy. They were brainwashed into thinking they could not take care of themselves and had to rely on their master for food, shelter, clothing, and their well being. Even though the majority of our ancestors were not satisfied with their way of life, they were afraid to take a chance on freedom. Having been told so many Nov 25 - dec 25 2010

times they were not capable of independence, they lost all faith in themselves. So most of them began to believe living on the plantation was the best option available to them. Then there were those of our ancestors who refused to accept slavery as their way of life. They believed there was a better life beyond master’s fence. They had dreams and believed they could make their dream come true. These were our ancestors who traveled the underground railroad or ran to freedom. They were willing to take a chance, because they were not satisfied with their situation and decided to do something about it. Fast forward to 2010, there are many of us today who have long had a dream to create and operate our own business. Through the many sacrifices of our ancestors, we have had an opportunity to gain the knowledge, experience, and skills to run a business. Some of us have had an opportunity to head multimillion dollar operations for large corporations and we’ve done so with great success. We’ve learned to analyze, project, invent, innovate, and understand the concept of business. We have that great idea, innovative product or unique service that could be a great success story. We have the knowledge and know how, but lack the faith to take a chance on ourselves. We are still afraid to open master’s gate and run to freedom. The difference between us and our ancestors is we know there is a better life beyond the gate. Rather than take a chance on our dream, we would rather work on a job where we are unhappy, underutilized, and with no idea of what the future holds. The opportunity to grow to our full potential working for someone else will never happen for the majority of us. We will never get the chance to interject our ideas or plans to make a company better; or attain the position we have earned and the salary we deserve. As in the past, many of us still feel the need for someone else to take care of us. We have been told to find a good job with a good comwww.

pany and work till retirement. They will provide what you need to live the American way: a paycheck, health insurance, and a retirement plan. Rather than jump the fence and run to freedom, the vast majority of us have adopted and accepted this way of life. Even though we know we can suc- can be a success story. Until we are able ceed, somehow we have not been able to to change our way of thinking, we will shake that inbred need for someone to not change our direction. We now take care of us. We still believe someone more than ever have the opportunity to else can take better care of us than we live the American dream and do for ourcan take care of ourselves. We are still selves, but what are we doing? We must afraid to jump the fence and run to free- take a chance, have the faith and make dom. That deep seeded fear that was the effort to make our dream come true. beat into our ancestors has been contin- The scene has changed, but we haven’t ually being past down from generation changed our minds. to generation and we have been unable For any comments please email to overcome it. William McElrath at anwcommunicaWhen we think of pursuing our tions@yahoo.com. dream, for most of us the first thing that comes to mind is failure. We never look at what we can gain; we’re always looking at what we can If life is not what you want lose. We have the knowlYour dreams are standing still, edge and skills but not the faith. We have the ability, It’s time to evaluate the situation but that deep seeded fear Find out what you can and will. that we cannot take care of ourselves will not let us How can you change what it is take control our destiny. Into what it ought to be, Instead of trying to make How can you change your road in life our dreams come true, we Be what you want to be? conjure up an endless list of excuses why we cannot You must take a chance on believing afford to take the chance Take a chance this time, and we never even make Reach for all the gusto an effort. In our hearts, Stand in front of the line. we still have that need to be a sharecropper instead You can create a new tomorrow of the shareholder, the Change the course of your fate, employee instead of the Enjoy a new beginning employer, the follower But a chance you have to take. instead of the leader. We cannot find the strength © William McElrath to have faith in ourselves. We refuse to believe we

Take A Chance

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Holiday Fun Can Be Affordable

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raditionally, the holiday season is a time of indulgences. Any combination of gifts, travel and entertaining can result in big end-of-year expenditures. But this year—in light of declining investment portfolios, sinking house values and a shaky job market—many American consumers will be looking for ways to toast the season without breaking the bank. If you, too, want to avoid overspending, here are some tips to celebrate more frugally:

Set proper expectations It helps to make sure everybody in your family is onboard with the costconscious approach. If you are married, have a frank discussion with your spouse about spending limits. If you have children, make sure they understand that your plans for the holidays will focus on fun that can be had without spending a lot of money. If your children are old enough, you may even use this as an opportunity to explain the fundamentals of household economics and involve them in setting holiday spending priorities for the family.

Plan ahead Take time to write down a list of possible gifts you hope to purchase for family and friends. Knowing what you want ahead of time may help you avoid making poor decisions and impulse purchases once you hit the stores.

Within your family, this can be on a per-person basis, or you can set a budget that dictates your maximum holiday spending. Once this number is chosen, see if you can come in under budget. Track all of your purchases and be certain to hold onto receipts. You might also request gift receipts where available and tuck them inside cards or gift boxes.

Be smart about gift cards Gift cards have become increasingly popular and more widely available. Make sure you understand the terms of a gift card (such as expiration dates) before making a purchase.

Get a jump on the season

Given the forecast for below-average consumer spending, many retailers are cautious to avoid stockpiling large inventories this holiday season. If you shop early, you will be more likely to find what you’re looking for at a reaInvest time to save money sonable price. Conversely, last minute The best deals can be found by shopping could result in spending more shopping around. Check out stores in than you planned, particularly if you are your area and investigate what’s avail- determined to buy specific items. able online. The emergence of online shopping has made it much easier to do And finally… your homework before you buy. Web These tips are about gift buying. But retailers will help you determine best rather than making gifts and packages prices for the products you are looking the center of your holiday celebration, to purchase. try putting more emphasis on spending quality time with family and friends. Track your spending Encourage games and conversation; you One of the best ways to keep may be surprised to find how little you spending under control is to set a limit. miss the excesses of years past. Nov 25 - dec 25 2010

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THE EXPERT NETWORK

Nov 25 - dec 25 2010

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Cyber Stalking and the Law – Choosing to Empower Yourself By Patricia Haley, Contributing Writer

“Make no mistake – this kind of harassment can be as frightening and as real as being followed and watched in your neighborhood, or in your home” – Al Gore, on cyber stalking. Cyber stalking. Another catch phrase that we are used to hearing in the blessing and curse of the technology age. But for those who have actually experienced cyber stalking, it is a virtual realm of terror, a psychological roller coaster of an unexpected invasion. It intrudes in the worst possibly way – through cyberspace – infecting the use of what we have often as our third hand – our smart phone wireless devices. Lurking and waiting to pounce, the cyber stalker preys on our minds, emotional health, and potentially drives us to states of anxiety, terror, and blanket fear. We can often ignore someone’s unrequited verbal advances. We can shake off someone yelling and harassing us over the phone. But how does one avoid their email, instant messaging, texting, and other means of electronic communication? A productive individual that does even the minimum of electronic communication is unable to do so. As such, cyber stalking creates a jurisdiction of control that infiltrates into every area of our lives. The fact that cyber stalking is not (at least initially) an immediate physical threat does not negate the seriousness of an electronic assault upon us. It can, and should be taken seriously by anyone impacted and subjected to such harassment. The National Center for Victims of Crime defines cyber stalking as “threatNov 25 - dec 25 2010

ening behavior or unwanted advances directed at another using the internet and other forms of online and computer communications”. Believe that we are immune to such an experience? Think again. This is not something relegated to the arenas of teenage passion gone awry, or to people mutually engaged in a heated argument. It impacts all ethnicities, ages, and social economic groups, and both genders. No one is exempt. We are unable to control the actions of another. As such, we cannot guarantee that we will not be subjected to unwanted means of electronic communications. What we can ensure, however, is that we protect ourselves by exploring our individual state laws and ensuring that those state laws, as well as other individual measures, are explored to keep ourselves safe. Help is available for you. Almost every state has cyber stalking legislature in place. The State Electronic Harassment/Cyber stalking Laws is a resource to check particular state codes. Although the language may or may not include electronic communication, the harassment in its purest form should make things easy if in order to halt cyber harassment. Some guidelines:

• The law is on your side. In many your claims that you are being cystates, cyber stalking is akin to civil ber stalked, particularly if you can harassment. You may be lawfully immediately identify the offender. able to receive a civil harassment Even if you are not, there are adrestraining order, forbidding the ditional actions that can be taken party from contacting you either by law enforcement to ensure your directly or indirectly. Keep a copy protection and safety. of the order in your car and home, Your rights start where another perand file it with your local law enson’s ends. To be seized electronically forcement agency. and held hostage is a form of control. • Save all of your electronic commu- You can take back your control, and nication. Although this may be a utilize the resources that are available to source of anxiety and stress for you, you, from both a state and federal perthese pieces of communication is spective, in order that you may live your empirical evidence to substantiate best life now.

• Tell your close friends/family about the harassment. This is no different from in person harassment and intimidation. It is designed to terrorize and isolate. Ensure that those who care about you know the information needed to assist and offer support to you. • Block the offending party from contacting you through electronic communication. Though this is an action that’s not foolproof, it is an immediate resource to prevent them from contacting you from their particular IP/email/phone number. You are able to block their email address, cell phone number, or any other electronic path used to harass and offend. www.

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THE EXPERT NETWORK

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d-mars.com Business Journal 46  

"Giving Back"