Page 1

Business small

Chairman John Cruise



President/Executive Publisher Steve Levine Vice President/Publisher/ Creative Director/Editor Barbara Davis-Levine Chief Financial Officer Ervin Hughes Publisher’s Assistant Jerome Davis Graphic Designer Genera Media Advertising Designer Malka Levy Photographers Gwen Juarez Contributing Writers Kelly Barcelos Sonia Clayton Nick Darlington Archie Elliott Barbara Davis Barbara Delaney Ruben Gonzalez

Hank Moore Christi Ruiz Gail Stolzenburg Pam Terry Holly Uverity Stephen Voorhees

Chief Advisor Hank Moore Publisher’s Advisory Board Denise Adjei Sonia Clayton Donna Cole John Cruise April Day Dr. John Demartini Maya Durnovo Kathie Edwards Mila Golovine Dory Gordon Greg Grant David Holt Richard Huebner Ervin Hughes Jeffrey Jones Darryl King Sandy Lawrence Craig Klein Wea Lee Bertrand McHenry Hank Moore

Lisa M. Morton Mike Muhney Leisa Holland Nelson Annise Parker Page Parkes Howard Partridge Susan Repka Ingrid Robinson Maria Rios Grant Sadler Tony Samper Rita Santamaria William Sherrill Gail Stolzenburg Pam Terry Linda Toyota Mayor Sylvester Turner Jack Warkenthien Carlecia D. Wright Aaron Young

Phone: 832-419-2814 E-Mail: Or Write: Small Business Today P.O. Box 31186 Houston, TX 77231 See us on the web at




have been to enough seminars and read enough books on success to know that success at anything doesn’t just happen because you want it to happen; success comes by applying certain standards that allow you to make success happen.

1. KNOW WHERE YOU ARE HEADING AND WHY If achieving any goal or dream of success were easy, we would all achieve success. The most important thing about obtaining a goal or dream is knowing exactly what it looks like and staying focused on why you want it! 2. HAVE A PLAN ON HOW YOU ARE GOING TO GET THERE If you were planning a cross-country trip by car, you would start with a road map (remember those?) or you would set your GPS on that desired location and let it map out the direction and course you want to go. It is the same for “arriving” at a goal or dream location.The plan for success in business is your Business Plan. Follow it and don’t be hesitant about making a few changes along the way if needed. 3. SEEK SUPPORT I have often heard it said, “If you see a turtle atop a fence, you have to know that it did not get there by itself !” Seek the support of people who will “lift” you up. In addition, be ready for those who for whatever reason do not want you to achieve that success. Perhaps they want to have a reason for their own failures. Misery does enjoy company, you know? 4. KNOW THAT YOU AND ONLY YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR SUCCESS OR FAILURE Know that you and only you are going to be responsible for your success. Adopt the attitude, “If it is going to be, then it is up to me!” There will never be anyone more vested in your success than you! So, don’t give up! 5. DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS AND DON’T LISTEN TO NAYSAYERS Just because others have attempted the same goal or dream and could not achieve it, does not mean that you won’t get there! We have interviewed so many successful people in real estate, business, and sports who were told that they would not be successful yet ended up proving those naysayers wrong. 6. EXPECT SETBACKS & LEARN FROM THEM Every success story comes with failed attempts. Remember, “If there was a victory, there had to be a battle.” Babe Ruth was the home run king of his day. People forget that he did not hit a home run every time he got up to the plate. He struck out a lot of times. Expect setbacks along the way and learn from them. Our cover honoree this month is Mr. Shah Haleem of SMZJ Holdings, LLC. Shah has had more than his share of challenges building his business that helped him serve so many others! I know you will enjoy his story! Good Reading, Good Sales, & Success to You,

Steve Levine







14 16

Publisher’s Column Each Role Matters. The Value of Support Staff.      Victory Isn’t for Everyone      Getting Organized: Mom was Right        


Potential Changes to Your 401k That May Be Good


How to Think Like a Champion




Marshmallows and Their Relationship to Successful People

21 22

Networking & Extroverts


Financial Astrology October 2017  

5 Strategies to Recruit Top Talent to a Small Company Even with Increased Competition





SMZJ Holdings, LLC

Living His Dream and Giving Back to Help Others Live Theirs



hah Haleem has a remarkably strong will to succeed and help others. Growing up in Bangladesh, he longed for freedom. He longed for more opportunity. He longed for the day he could run his own company and use his success to help others. And so, Shah moved to the United States an early age to fulfill his dreams after the sudden death of his father in a car accident. The journey was not easy. He lived in shared accommodations and worked numerous jobs to pay his way through college, then pursued a career in real estate while working as a network analyst. He quickly developed a name for himself, and it wasn’t long before the ambitious Shah was meeting top executives, attending big events, and taking classes to learn how to run a company. It was an evolution that culminated in the establishment of SMZJ Holdings, LLC and the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. But for the modest Shah, it has never been about the money; SMZJ is merely the vehicle he uses to give back and help others live their dreams. Growing up in Dhaka, Bangladesh with two brothers and sisters, Shah was aware from a young age that giving back was part of everyday life. His parents exemplified this philosophy. Shah’s father was fervently involved in the com-


munity as a political leader, businessman, and social worker; and his mother compassionately took care of the family. To this day, Shah’s character reflects their values in his business practices, his sense of community, and his desire to help others who are less fortunate. Throughout his childhood, Shah dreamt of going to a country that embraced freedom and offered the opportunity to fulfill his dream of establishing a company. A company he could use to help others. For Shah, the United States was that country. The then-teenager made the life-changing decision to leave his homeland. “I went to San Jacinto College in Houston to get my requirements done and then transferred to University of Houston,” he recalled. Culturally, the transition wasn’t hard because he had family all over the world, but juggling jobs to support himself and pay for his studies was tough. Fortunately, his work ethic and strong desire to succeed carried him through. Shah reflected, “I worked at restaurants. I cleaned. I worked in valet parking at night. I worked at the school computer lab. I worked in the school library. I even helped paint houses between jobs. Any job I could get, I’d do it. My neighbor’s house needed painting; they gave me twenty, thirty bucks, which was enough to buy lunch for the next couple of days. Some jobs lasted two weeks, others two months. But I kept going.” Although dedicated to building his dreams, Shah’s life took a new direction when he developed a love interest. He noticed a beautiful woman in a friend’s wedding photograph and knew he had to contact her. He discovered her name was Maggie and she was working at the Polish Embassy in Bangladesh. A year and a half of email exchanges followed and, after Shah’s mother met her and gave the stamp of approval, he visited. “I trust my mom,” remarks Shah. “So, I went to see Maggie.” Within 10 days of meeting, they got married. And, 17 years later, they are enjoying life together with their two wonderful sons, Zarek who is 10 and Joshua who is 8. After graduating in 1996 from the University of Houston with a degree in Computer Information Systems, Shah took a job as a Network Analyst at a Fortune 500 company, Cardinal Health, Inc., where he stayed for 11 years. During that time, he developed a keen interest in real estate and once again his life changed course. The driving force was Shah’s desire for financial freedom. “I was in property invest-

Shah is well versed in all phases of real estate, development, and construction. Photo by Gwen Juarez

ment on the side, buying and selling, while working for myself,” explained Shah. Not only did real estate offer him financial freedom but also flexibility. Shah enrolled in classes at the Houston Real Estate School and Champions School of Real Estate. Following his graduation in 2003, he joined Realm Real Estate Professionals, about whom he had heard great things. He started as a part time Realtor® but, thanks to an unprecedented drive to succeed and eagerness to learn, he soon switched to working full time. Shah set impressive standards. He began his first property transaction before he even received a copy of his Realtor’s license and over the course of 10 years broke sales records, flipped over 200 properties, obtained his Certified International Property Specialist designation, acquired countless certifications in real estate law, contracts, marketing, became part of the Multi-Million Dollar Producer Club, and was the number one Realtor® among Realm’s 700-strong staff, to name but a few of his achievements. But Shah’s dream was still his driving force, constantly heading him in one direction, to build his own company. Just as it took time to build a stellar reputation as a top Realtor®, so too did realizing that dream. It was an evolutionary process. “It’s like be[ SEPTEMBER | OCTOBER 2017 ] WWW.SBTMAGAZINE.NET 7


Shah loves his family! They are his motivation for everything he does. He is seen here with his wife Maggie, sons Joshua and Zarek, Shah’s brother Shah, sister-in-law Punno, and nephew Aryan. Photo by Gwen Juarez.

ing on a train track,” elaborates Shah. “If you’re on the track, a lot of new avenues will appear because you’re doing the same thing and you open doors. You meet people. You talk to them. I went to many big events. I networked a lot with big investors, bankers, and successful businesspeople. Through them, you learn how to grow a company. I’ve taken many upper management and CEO classes on how to run a company, how to build a company, and how to grow a company from nothing. Because I built myself from nothing in this country, just an education.” SMZJ was born out of this evolution. The company has six lines of business. “We buy and sell properties, which is our brokerage,” explains Shah. “We have property management for our investors and properties. We have rental properties. Then we flip properties. We have construction, which involves acquiring assets and land in strategic locations all over Houston so that we can construct apartments, multi-family, and single-family homes. And the sixth line of our business is consulting because we have a knowledge base in the areas we work on. If someone comes to us, we don’t have to spend money. We can give them consulting to help them develop their business.” 8 SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE [ SEPTEMBER | OCTOBER 2017 ]

Six lines of business is a lot to manage. Shah and his team make it work thanks to a robust internal communications system and focused effort; they often work 18-hour days. He has a team of five employees who work in the real estate division, an office manager, and 10 sub-contractors. “We are a growing company,” explains Shah. “When we are consulting, we do everything via sub-contracts. My architect and builders are all sub-contractors. If I need someone to help me, I contract out.” But Shah, never complacent, has shifted his goals even higher. He elaborated, “We set a goal to build a $100-million company in 10 years, and in 12 years I would like to be part of a billion-dollar transaction. So right now, we’re gathering different investment groups. I put together a group to buy a project. I may put in 20 percent and somebody else may put in 20 percent. I then find equal partners; three, maybe four people to build a new project. Everybody shares! And then, by putting my money in, I’m able to buy a different project because I’m bringing assets in.” And the reason for this decision? For Shah, it is not about the money. “I’m a simple guy,” he explains. “I bring my lunch to work. I hardly eat out; I don’t

have time. I drive a modest car. I live in a modest house. It’s not the money and luxury. It’s never been about money! I’m a big social worker, and I intend to donate most of my assets to humankind when I’m done building them. If my money can do good for others, it’s the best money that I’ve ever spent. Giving back is what I care about the most.” Shah believes in making a difference in people’s lives and helping them achieve their dreams. He hosts real estate education seminars for free. In addition, he mentors young agents but his social work extends beyond business. “I am the Chairman of the Bangladesh Association in Houston,” elaborates Shah. “It’s the largest Bangladesh Association in North America. It has over 3,000 members. It has received the best organization award in all of North America given by the Federation of Bangladeshi Association in North (FOBANA). I have over 25 directors who work with me at our community center. We do roughly 30 events a year, serving our members. We have a Sunday language school that we run and the Zee Memorial Fund that helps people. We host interfaith dialogues. We host gala programs to promote our heritage and culture in North America. We’re also building the first community center in North America, called Bangladesh American Center. It’s the first in the entire world. And I have been leading that effort, with the help of my Board of Directors and the community, for the last five years.” The Bangladesh American Center, while still under construction, aims to help Bangladeshis grow and transition into mainstream America. “They need a community gathering place so that they can share ideas,” says Shah. “So that they can congregate together in one place. So that they can serve the local community better. A place to call home. We’re making the community’s Bangladeshi-American heritage stronger in the city of Houston, so they can give back. Otherwise, they can’t give back; they won’t have anything to give back. The Bangladesh Center is an asset for society to give back from.” Beyond that, Shah and his family help students finish college. “Our family has invested in a few students who became college graduates in Bangladesh,” states Shah. “We also helped many families in Houston finish their colleges and schools, privately.” Shah and his family are now planning to open a foundation for specific scholarship funds. It is something they are already doing in Bangladesh and is overseen by Shah’s mother.

Shah has also served under past Houston Mayor, Annise Parker, for the Houston International Trade Development Council and is active in the community in other ways. He helps with events such as the local Chambers of Commerce, serves as the treasurer for the Federation of Bangladeshi Associations in North America, speaks at social events, and promotes interfaith dialogues. Recently, Shah was a guest speaker at the Houston Metro University Council to celebrate Asian Pacific Heritage Month. He also actively participates with many local and international organizations and communities in their missions and activities. Shah attends many cable and local TV shows to promote cultural diversity in Houston. There is no question that there isn’t a day that goes by where Shah isn’t giving back. “We are engaging with the leadership of the city of Houston and National Congress,” explains Shah. “We partner with ABC13 News and the Houston Food Bank to collect thousands of pounds of food every year to deal with hunger issues in Houston. I recently got my DEA Citizen Academy certification, so I also partner with law enforcement to help clean up our streets.” Even with all he does, Shah manages to keep a balance in juggling his businesses, family, and his health. “I go to the gym at eleven o’clock at night. I try to take that time, but it’s hard. If I can work out four times a week, it’s great.” He also does his best to spend time with his children. “We go to movies. We swim together. We go to a park and ride bikes together,” says Shah. “We play basketball together in the driveway. My kids and I are like friends; we go everywhere together.” Maggie is Shah’s biggest supporter in all he does. Besides being a dedicated wife and mother, Maggie has her Realtor’s license and has always assisted Shah in his real estate business endeavors. In addition, Maggie teaches at Harmony School of Science. Shah and Maggie not only spend quality time with their children but also teach them to be the best they can be. Shah states, “We teach our children to believe in God, work hard, care about family, and care for others.” In spite their young age, Shah and Maggie’s sons are already following their example. “My children help me with my charity work,” explains Shah. “They attend all the events. I teach them how to help others and to not be selfish. I make sure they understand that this is their country.” [ SEPTEMBER | OCTOBER 2017 ] WWW.SBTMAGAZINE.NET 9


Shah is seen here with a group of volunteers from many countries serving Houston’s Hurricane Harvey Flood Victims.. Photo Courtesy of Shah Haleem

Although Shah was born in Bangladesh, he is proud to be an American citizen. He proudly states, “Having been in this country for over 29 years, this is our country now; this is our home. We’re not going back to Bangladesh; America is our home. My sons learn about American culture as well as Bangladeshi culture; that is the beauty of America. They celebrate the Fourth of July and all other holidays in the USA. We help remind them of the culture of Bangladesh as a secondary, but we raise our children as Americans first. I serve the people of the Bangladesh American community. Not only do I deeply care about them but I also care about and serve the community at large in Houston. I want to see this country grow so other people can have the same opportunity that I did. I want to give back because this country has given me so much.” A move to the United States gave Shah more than he could ever hope for. It gave him freedom and opportunity. It allowed him to fulfill his dreams. Was the path easy? No. He had to support himself and pave his own way in a new country. But determined to succeed, the hard-working Shah persevered, and is now living his dreams in the country he is proud to call home. Always the social worker, he remains committed to making a difference in people’s lives and helping them achieve their dreams. 10 SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE [ SEPTEMBER | OCTOBER 2017 ]

Shah and his team organized a prayer vigil to “Stand Against Global Terrorism and Promote Global Peace” at the Bangladesh-American Center. Photo Courtesy of Shah Haleem

No one says it better than Shah - “My purpose is to serve humanity. Everyone has the right to live and pursue happiness. Many people have been deprived of that because the world is full of injustice. I can do more by focusing on my business, making money, and using that money for the good of people. If my money can do good for others, it’s the best money I’ve ever spent. I feel great and righteous helping someone, seeing them smile. Making a difference in that person’s life is something I care deeply about. That has always been my dream. God gave me an opportunity, gave me an education, gave me the energy, and gave me the sense. I’d like to help other poor people with an education and make a difference in their lives.” And anyone who knows Shah can be sure of that. SBT

Shah’s Best Words for Living Your Dreams

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Set a goal and work on that goal. Never give up. Work hard every day. Stay focused. Stay healthy. Don’t go after money. Serve people. Serve your clients. Serve your interests. Do what you love. You will excel and never feel like you’re working. 9. Network. You have to get out there, shake hands, smile, and make things happen. 10. Don’t tell your client you can do something when you can’t. 11. Always be punctual. 12. Get up each morning and dress appropriately. You need to look professional even if your meeting is with your best friend. [ SEPTEMBER | OCTOBER 2017 ] WWW.SBTMAGAZINE.NET 11


Each Role Matters.

The Value of Support Staff.                   



very person in the company matters to its success. Every job is important, as is filling them with the best people for each job. The art and skill of being great support staff is a cornerstone of business success.

From pop culture, think of the great role models that we grew up watching: Della Street was the loyal secretary to Perry Mason. She knew what everyone was thinking and was the glue to the cases. She was the model for executive assistants and office managers everywhere. The CEO is made stronger with a good C-suite team. Ed McMahon was TV’s premier second banana. He worked as assistant, announcer, commercial pitchman and sketch narrator to Johnny Carson throughout their 29-year run on NBC-TV’s “Tonight Show.” They had previously worked together on a game show, “Who Do You Trust” on ABC-TV. Bandleaders on the late-night are vital #3 characters on the show, including Doc Severinsen, Skitch Henderson, Paul Shaffer and The Roots band. The movie star heroes had buddies to help them navigate the adventures. John Wayne and Roy Rogers had Gabby Hayes. Gene Autry had Pat Buttram. TV show stars had great support casts. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz had Vivian Vance and William Frawley as Ethel & Fred Mertz. This historic teaming became the formula for most other TV sitcoms. Shows like “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “30 Rock,” “The Office” and others had expanded ensemble casts. Some performers made careers as supporting players. Ann B. Davis was Schultzy on “The


Bob Cummings Show” and Alice on “The Brady Bunch.” Back characters on TV shows included restaurant and bar operators, where the stars went top relax. There were friendly, familiar places such as Cheers bar, Arnold’s Drive-In on “Happy Days,” the Krusty Krab on “SpongeBob Square Pants,” Dale’s Diner on “The Roy Rogers Show” and other homey places. In the business world are those staff people who make us feel more like family. Therefore, our loyalty to the company rises, and we are more productive. Still other back characters bring cohesion to the enterprise. On “Gilligan’s Island,” those glue-adhesive characters were the Professor Roy Hinkley and Mary Ann Summers. Those vital employees in the business world might include the IT guy, the receptionist, the mailroom manager, the ethics adviser and the secretary to the Board of Directors. Great executives know the value of crediting support figures for the business success. Lt. Columbo was always quoting his wife as basis for testing hypotheses, though the character was never shown. Newspaper publisher Perry White was always upstaged by his employees, notably Clark Kent/Superman. Al Roker does the weather on “The Today Show,” and he is also the motivating segment host as well. Nobody turns letters like Vanna White, making her essential to the legacy of “Wheel of Fortune.” And then there were those mentors behind the scene who were responsible for lots of creativity. The Beatles had George Martin as their producer. Steven Spielberg had John Williams as music composer for his films. A host of people make the CEO look good. Further, they transform the company to greater plateaus. Warmly recognize the contributions

of executive assistants, trusted advisers, mentors, support staff, hier apparents, adjuncts, vendors and outside stakeholders.

Here are some characteristics of support personnel and rising stars who will make it as professionals and business leaders: • • • • • • • • • •

Act as though they will one day be management. Think as a manager, not as a worker. Learn and do the things it will take to assume management responsibility. Be mentored by others. Act as a mentor to still others. Don’t expect status overnight. Measure their output and expect to be measured as a profit center to the company. Learn to pace and be in the chosen career for the long-run. Don’t expect that someone else will be the rescuer or enable you to cut corners in the path toward artificial success. Learn from failures, reframing them as opportunities.

• Learn to expect, predict, understand and relish success. • Behave as a gracious winner. • Acquire visionary perception. • Study and utilize marketing and business development techniques. • Contribute to the bottom line, directly and indirectly. • Offer value-added service. • Never stop paying dues and see this continuum as “continuous quality improvement.” • Study and comprehend the subtleties of life. • Never stop learning, growing and doing. In short, never stop! SBT Contact information for Hank Moore. Website: Email: Phone: 346-777-1818. Hank Moore has advised 5,000+ client organizations, including 100 of the Fortune 500, public sector agencies, small businesses and non-profit organizations. His Legends books have been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

And then there were those mentors behind the scene who were responsible for lots of creativity. The Beatles had George Martin as their producer. Steven Spielberg had John Williams as music composer for his films.


Victory Isn’t for

Everyone               BY ARCHIBALD C ELLIOTT

I built my talent on the shoulders of someone else’s talent”- Michael Jordan.

One of the most important things when looking for success in anything is to find someone you can look up to. Someone who might have done what you’re trying to do or is an inspiration in some way, shape, or form. Michael Jordan as well as anyone who has ever been successful at anything will tell you that they drew inspiration from somewhere outside themselves. This inspiration doesn’t have to mean that you emulate or try to copy someone. In fact, your inspiration for success could be from someone that has accomplished something in a completely different field. Bruce Lee changed martial arts, he would look to other individuals and forms of martial arts that led him to be so creative and revolutionary. I will always look to others for inspiration while trying to achieve personal accomplishments. It’s evident in the sports I compete in, jobs I’ve had, and the friends I associate with. It’s also evident in how I train. Primarily my training regimens are benchmarked from top athletes in various sports. From boxing and MMA, to football, basketball, and soccer, the idea is to highlight a small portion of what it takes to get to that elite level in hopes of continuing to inspire others as well as myself. I’ve had the privilege of not only training at high levels but also being around those who do. Being that close to the action, you adapt the mentality of what it takes. You then realize that victory isn’t for everyone. Sun Tzu in his infamous

Art of War put it best when he said “Victory is reserved for those willing to pay the price”. That price is simply too high for some people.

I’ve compiled a list. 1. Imperfect action. No individual, spends too much time worrying about insignificant details. Scientific methods states for anything important to start, begin imperfectly and work towards perfecting it versus waiting till the time is just right. The time will never be just right for anything. You can read all you want to about it, but I promise you that you’ll be ahead of the game if you take a basic understanding and put it to use rather than sitting on an idea. I’m guilty of this. However, I’ve learned that if I just get started, even if it’s not perfect, I can correct actions along the way. Even if I’m wrong, I’ve gained experience that can’t be taught in books. 2. Patience. This one gets everyone. It happens when you watch or see something or someone that inspires you to begin. Maybe it’s a sports figure or movie, whatever it is, it makes say “I’m going to do that”. Then you start doing it and you start to realize after a few days that it sucks. People that reach the highest levels of anything realize and appreciate the process. They understand that nothing happens overnight and that the “grind” is the best part of the process. 3. Intensity. If you were to see how some of the top Olympic or sport athletes train, it would blow your mind. Just the thought of 2 to 3 training ses-


Intensity. If you were to see how some of the top Olympic or sport athletes train, it would blow your mind. Just the thought of 2 to 3 training sessions a day that last at least 2 hours a piece is hard for some people to wrap their minds around. sions a day that last at least 2 hours a piece is hard for some people to wrap their minds around. Pushing yourself to the apex takes a commitment and desire that most will never understand. However, if you’re going to pay the price for victory, get used to pushing yourself to the limit. Find comfort in the discomfort. 4. Focus. Training is like being on a hill with a pair of skates. If you aren’t going forward, you’re going backwards and fast. When you’re competing at the highest levels of sport or business, there is no off season. Everything you do revolves around the goals you place for yourself. This isn’t to say you can’t take breaks every now and then, you must allow time for mental and physical rest. With clear understanding it’s to make you better, not a license to do whatever you want. SBT  

Archibald C Elliott is Founder of Symmetry Fitness (404)307-3421


Getting Organized:

Mom was Right                



’ve said repeatedly that getting organizing doesn’t have to be overwhelming; you start where you are and break the big, hard stuff down into smaller and easier chunks. There is no magic timeline for getting things the way you want them, but it can be tough sometimes to get started. With that in mind, think about your mom (or mom substitute) who gave you some of your earliest words of wisdom. With all respect to those women and men in your life who helped you, I’ve compiled a list of Mom Sayings (they should be very familiar) that can be translated into organizing work. Maybe remembering the lessons that Mom taught you will be the motivation you need to get started. Eat Your Vegetables This translates to It’s Good for You. Getting and staying organized IS good for you and just like eating your vegetables, it’s an important part of your overall health. Being organized can lead to better relationships at work and home as well as decrease your stress levels. Just as you knew when you were a kid that you couldn’t survive on cookies and ice cream, you now know that you can’t survive, or more importantly, thrive, without being organized. Sit Up Straight This translates to Look Professional. What image do you want to project to others? Do you want to look like you know what you’re doing? Do you want others to trust you? Believe in you? Spend their money with you? Of course you do but how can anyone do that if your workspace (office, cubby, car, etc.) is

This translates to Plan your Work. Doesn’t your morning go smoother if you’ve spent a few minutes the night before getting things ready? Investing just a few minutes at the end of each day looking forward to and planning upcoming days and weeks lets you see the bigger picture and how your goals fit into your workday. disorganized and dirty? Staying neat, orderly and organized tells the world that you’re in control and know what you’re doing. Get Ready for School the Night Before This translates to Plan your Work. Doesn’t your morning go smoother if you’ve spent a few minutes the night before getting things ready? Investing just a few minutes at the end of each day looking forward to and planning upcoming days and weeks lets you see the bigger picture and how your goals fit into your workday. Planning and strategizing your work gives you the freedom to take on unexpected challenges and allows you to be better prepared to handle someone else’s demands. Sit Still/Put That Down This translates to Stay Focused. How many days have you spent being busy but nothing gets finished? The issue is often one of focus; it’s easy to be distract-


ed if you don’t like what you’re doing, you don’t know how to do what you’re supposed to be doing or someone else’s emergency just became yours. You can’t do much about other people, but you can control how and where you spend your time. Scheduled breaks can help keep you focused and work on one thing at a time. If you notice that you’ve drifted off the task at hand, say to yourself “This is not what I’m doing now”. It’s amazing how speaking these few words out loud can pull you right back to where you need to be. Put Your Toys Away This translates to Clear Your Desk. Why did your mom tell you to put your toys away? Two reasons: 1) so your room would be neater and 2) so you’d be able to find a specific toy when you wanted it. The same holds true for your desk; your office will be neater and you’ll be able to find what you need when you need it. There is, however, a third reason to clear your desk at the end of the day; walking into an office with a clear desk means there is no mess to distract you. You can work on what you want – and need – to accomplish your goals and are not instantly sidetracked by something on your desk crying for your attention. Never underestimate the power of walking into an organized workspace. SBT

Office Organizers is The Entrepreneur’s Organizer ™. Founded in 1993, they work with business people to create solutions to their organizational challenges. Contact them at 281.655.5022 or


Potential Changes to Your 401k

That May Be Good



ince the early 1980s, 401ks have steadily become a primary means of retirement income for many Americans. For the most part, 401ks have replaced defined benefits plans, which were predominately pension plans. A 401k is considered a defined contribution plan, which translates to employee and employer contributions versus a defined benefit plan (pension), in which the employer was the sole contributor. Employers, though, are under no obligation to make any contributions. Today, there is talk coming from Washington D.C. about sweeping tax reform. Many people have heard about the proposed decrease in corporate and personal tax rates and a simplified filing process. But potential changes to 401ks have not received as much attention. During a recent meeting of the National Association of Plan Advisors (NAPA) with congressman Kevin Brady, Chairman of the United States Committee on Ways and Means, 401k reform was discussed. One of the changes to 401ks that is under consideration is lowering the deductibility, or pre-tax amount. To help understand why reducing the amount that can be saved is on the table, it’s good to take a historical perspective. In 1986, under the Tax Reform Act, President Ronald Reagan signed into law the reduction of the amounts that can be saved in a 401k plan from $30,000 to $7,000. At that time, the individual federal rate could be as high as 50 percent, with the corporate rate at 46 percent, before accounting for state and other income tax rates. For example, New York had a tax rate as high as 70 percent in 1986.

Based on the recent meeting with Chairman Brady, the limits of taxdeferred amounts may decrease back to $7,000 (from $18,000 currently) with the balance of contributions diverting to a Roth IRA allocation. And, in the 1980s, fewer Americans had 401k plans. Thus, lowering the 401k contribution amount to receive a reduction on income taxes was an easy compromise. Today the 401k plan is now a primary and sole savings vehicle for many Americans, so changing the amount without significant tax reductions will not be an easy battle for lawmakers. Based on the recent meeting with Chairman Brady, the limits of tax-deferred amounts may decrease back to $7,000 ( from $18,000 currently) with the balance of contributions diverting to a Roth IRA allocation. Combining the 401k with a Roth IRA will keep the total contribution limits the same, $18,000 for those under 50 years old and $24,000 for those over 50. Remember, contributions made to a Roth IRA are taxed, but any growth in investments is not taxed, provided certain conditions are met. This may not be a bad compromise as Roth IRA money will still accumulate tax-free. Having a pool of money to withdraw from at retirement with less to pay on taxes may be a beneficial strategy for many. At that same meeting, it seemed both sides of the partisan divide agreed that Roth IRA provisions would stay the same. This may be good as the benefits of a Roth IRA are often overlooked. There is

a long way to go before any changes are made to 401ks or tax reform in general. However, it is always prudent to have a good understanding of how upcoming changes may impact retirement. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. This information is not intended as authoritative guidance or tax or legal advice. You should consult your attorney or tax advisor for guidance on your specific situation. 401k withdrawals taken prior to age 59 ½ may be subject to 10% penalty tax, in addition to ordinary income tax. Roth IRA withdrawals may be tax free, as long as they are considered qualified. Limitations and restrictions may apply. Withdrawals prior to age 59 ½ or prior to the account being opened for 5 years, whichever is later, may result in a 10% IRS penalty tax. Future tax laws can change at any time and may impact the benefits of Roth IRAs. Their tax treatment may change. Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through Global Retirement Partners (GRP), a registered investment advisor. GRP, StoneStreet Advisor Group, NAPA Government Affairs Committee and LPL Financial are separate non-affiliated entities. SBT Barbara Delaney, Founder StoneStreet Advisor Group & NAPA Government Affairs Committee Member



How to Think

Like a Champion                     BY FOUR-TIME OLYMPIAN RUBEN GONZALEZ

What would you do if you knew you could not fail? Back when I took up the sport of luge, one of my Olympic coaches used to tell me, “Ruben, you’re only six inches away from massive success!” I wasn’t sure what he meant. He explained, “Six inches is the distance between your ears. Your success depends on what you feed your mind.” He was talking about the “Inner Game.” It would be years before I really understood what he meant. Today, I realize that he was 100% right. You always hear about the mental part of sports being more important than the physical part. I have to admit that I was always a bit skeptical. That is, until a cold morning in October 1998. I took up the sport of luge in 1984 and retired from the luge right after the 1992 Albertville Olympics. After Albertville, I didn’t take a luge run for six years. However, during those six years I read hundreds of books on success and listened to thousands of motivational tapes. Unbeknownst to me, but by doing that, I was gradually becoming mentally tougher. In 1998, six years after retiring from the luge, I decided to begin training for the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. My first day of training was unforgettable. I was at the start of the Calgary luge track ready to take my first run in six years. Surprisingly, I was feeling cool, calm, and confident. Believe it or not, my first four runs were personal bests! I felt more in control of the sled than ever before. Four personal bests after a six year break! Unbelievable! That day I stopped being a skeptic. That day I became a believer in the power of the human mind. 18 SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE [ SEPTEMBER | OCTOBER 2017 ]

High achievers in every field share certain beliefs that give them a competitive edge; beliefs designed to keep them hungry, confident, and mentally tough so they will do what it takes to win; beliefs anyone can adopt to have better results in their personal or professional life. If you adopt the following beliefs, you will win much more often.

Failure does Not Exist Just because I crashed the last five times on the luge track does not mean I’ll crash the next time. Every time I come down that track, I am a better racer because I am more experienced than on the previous run. That is, if I learn something from my mistake, and then apply the knowledge on that next run. High achievers believe that they are destined to accomplish great things in their lifetimes. They believe that the challenges they experience are there to teach them a lesson they need to learn in order to complete their “mission” in life. They believe there is no such thing as failure. They either get the desired outcome or they learn. No matter what the result, they win. The past does not equal the future. By thinking this way, discouragement can’t get a foothold in their mind.

If It Is Got to Be, It Is Up to Me! Successful people are willing to work hard overcome their challenges. Struggling through challenges on the road to your goals is what makes you great. A piece of coal has to experience a huge amount of heat and pressure in order to become a diamond. We are no different. Every

High achievers believe that they are destined to accomplish great things in their lifetimes. They believe that the challenges they experience are there to teach them a lesson they need to learn in order to complete their “mission” in life. They believe there is no such thing as failure. They either get the desired outcome or they learn. No matter what the result, they win. The past does not equal the future. By thinking this way, discouragement can’t get a foothold in their mind. time we face a challenge we have a choice to make. Will we get bitter or better? Decide to get better. Face the challenge. It’s there to make you stronger. You will need that strength further up the road when you’ll be facing even bigger challenges. Don’t ever make excuses. Whenever you make an excuse, you are giving up control. If you do make an excuse for not pursuing your dream, make sure it’s a good one, because you’ll have to live with it for the rest of your life. Don’t rationalize. Rationalizing is telling yourself “rational lies”. Believe that you are in charge of your life. You are totally responsible. You create your results. You are in control of your life. You have the power to change your circumstances.

Commit to Win Some people are interested in reaching their dreams and others are committed to reaching their dreams. The key to success in life is going from being interested to being committed. Once you are committed you will produce results. At the point of commitment, you mentally “burn all the bridges” and you do whatever it takes to

make it happen. THAT’S when you become unstoppable! On the road to the Olympics, many athletes much faster than me quit along the way. There are only two reasons they quit; they either didn’t want it bad enough or they were not as committed. Commitment is what makes success possible. If you commit to do whatever it takes (as long as it is moral, legal and ethical) to succeed, success will reveal its secrets to you. When we are training for a big race, the first thing we always do is to walk the track with the coach. Then we make a game plan about the best way to drive the track. We visualize and mentally rehearse the ideal run, but sooner or later, we have to commit. Sooner or later, we have to hop on the sled and slide down the mountain. We had to take those runs knowing that even with all the preparation, the first few times down that track are going to be pretty brutal. Is it scary? Sure, it’s scary. But you have to pay the price if you want to enjoy the prize. You have to commit to do things that are beyond your current abilities. That’s the only way to grow. That’s how you get better and stronger. So, attack your fears head on. Otherwise, you will be their servant for the rest of your life. Take a chance. Act on faith. Put yourself in a position where you have to stretch and fight for something. It brings out the best in you. It is good for your soul. SBT

Ruben Gonzalez is an award-winning keynote speaker and the author of the critically acclaimed book, “The Courage to Succeed.” His experiences as a four-time Olympian and as the owner of two businesses give him a unique perspective on how to conquer the corporate struggles of today. For his free 10-Part Success eCourse, visit or contact him at 832-689-8282.



Marshmallows and Their Relationship to Successful People BY SONIA CLAYTON


recently graduated from the Stanford Latino Entrepreneur Program at Stanford University. While being involved with this program I read some powerful books and researched several Stanford Studies. The things I learned in this program were invaluable. But, one of the stories that impacted me the most was the Marshmallow Study, a study conducted between the 1960s and early 1970s and led by psychologist and professor Walter Mischel (1962). This Stanford Study is an important illustration of Emotional Intelligence and immediate gratification. During the study, a child was offered one small reward (a marshmallow) presented immediately or two small rewards (2 or more marshmallows) that could be even bigger and better latter on and within a span of 15 minutes. Some of the young participants eat the marshmallow immediately, but others chose to deal with all the challenges of managing the “urge” to grab the marshmallow and eating it, focusing in the ultimate reward. During this extensive study, Mischel and Ebbenson (1972), observed participant’s behaviors for the following 14 years and subsequently 18 and 20 years. After this study, researchers compared the behaviors of the grabbers and contrasted them with those who chose to wait. Conclusions were: 1) The Grabbers – “Immediate Creatures,” become young adults with compulsive tendencies, who had a hard time managing stress, had issues connecting with others and being team players and had less will power to overcome temptation.

2) The Resisters – Became more focused individuals and scored an average of 210 points higher on their SAT tests and other indexes and they had better life outcomes. What made the difference? The answer is the type of Emotional Impulse produced and our human ability to deal with all distracting factors involved, combined with the capacity to pay attention and execute what is in our minds. Those who waited are classified as people capable and able to perform with discipline, self- control and will-power to restrain “urges” and remain focused. They were less impulsive, more strategic, better at dealing and coping with stressful situations and able to improve individual behaviors. 1) Grabbers were unable to concentrate and develop close relationships. They displayed less self-control, show more impulsiveness and dependability and had trouble solving complex problems or dealing with adversarial situations. They also showed more resistance to change. In today’s world and as an IT recruiting professional, I have learned that when employers look for Education and Professional Experience while sorting through resumes, they are not concerned so much about what applicants “know” but what they are willing or “capable of doing” and how they do their job. Rather than focusing on basic skills, they focus on the applicants’ motivation, self-direction, technology adoption, knowledge, capability and desire to assume responsibility and leadership. They want people able to work in teams and ready to listen


and solve problems independently instead of complainers and problem generators. Mischelle (2011), explained that there is much to be said about how people are wired, however, training can always make the difference and help as the most powerful correcting agent between those with natural behaviors and those without. We may also conclude that impulsive behavior can be modified. Mischel, a heavy Nicotine addict, stop smoking after he saw a lung cancer patient living with all the horrific side effects of cancer. Something clicked in Mischel’s conscious mind and from that point on, when he wanted a cigarette (approximately every three minutes, by his own account) he would recreate a picture in his mind of the man he saw at the Stanford hallway. “I changed the objective value of the cigarette. It went from something I craved to something disgusting.” Ever since, Mischel stopped smoking completely. Hence, we can conclude that conditional training can change employees and help them acquire new skills that increase contributions to business and build self-esteem. SBT References Mischel, W., Ayduk, O., Berman, M. G., Casey, B. J., Gotlib, I. H., Jonides, J., Kross, E., Teslovich, T., Wilson, N., Zayas, V., & Shoda, Y. (2011). The marshmallow test: Mastering self-control (First ed.) Mischel, W., Ebbesen, E. B., & Zeiss, A. R. (1972). Attention in delay of gratification. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 16(2), 329. Mischel, W., & Metzner, R. (1962). Cognitive and Attentional Mechanisms in Delay of Gratification. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 21(2), 204–218. Sonia Clayton – President & CEO of Virtual Intelligence Providers, LLC.


Networking & Extroverts BY GAIL STOLZENBURG


n a previous issue we discussed Networking & Introverts, so this article focuses on extroverts in order to see how the two personalities can network together. We described an introvert as a person who tends to turn inward mentally, sometimes avoid large groups of people, and feeling more energized by time alone. The opposite of an introvert (antonym) or at least a different personality  is an extrovert, who finds energy in interactions with others and is very comfortable networking in small or large groups. They are described as livewires, socializers, befrienders, outgoing, gregarious, and assertive. Networking is exciting to extroverts while it may seem overwhelming to introverts. The world in divided in approximately 50% introverts and 50% extroverts. Neither type is better; they just process information in a different manner. What happens when the two personality types meet? Sometimes the extrovert feels a need to change the introvert, to make them a more spontaneous, exciting, interacting individual. It you are an extrovert, please stop trying to change the introverts. Be patient. You will find many successful entrepreneurs are introverts. Sometimes extroverts are perceived as an interesting person you would like to get to know better and develop a business relationship with and other times they can be overpowering or boring. Here are some ideas that may help extroverts be more accepted and less likely to be perceived as someone to move away from. One of the first rules of networking is the 70/30 rule which means listening 70% of the time and asking questions 30% of the time. Remember, whoever asks the

questions (the right questions), controls the conversation. There is no reason to dominate the time with your presentation. You will be much more effective when you learn more about the person you are talking with. Ask questions to learn their wants and need and never ask personal or invasive questions. Put the attention on them rather than you. Listen intently, stay focused on them, and never interrupt. Have you noticed when you are conversing with an introvert they often stop to process information while extroverts tend to think out loud? One of the most powerful techniques in speaking is the use of the “Pause”, stopping the conversation briefly. If you have been talking, then pause, this allows the other person the opportunity to respond and they will appreciate it. Every extrovert should read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. Decision making is a complimentary process involving both persons. Extroverts may tend to act quickly without considering other people’s views. Sometimes if you may determine the conversation is going nowhere the first several minutes, you may decide to just leave the person a business card and wait for a better time to reconnect. Body language and tonality tell the other person a lot about you. Remember people make at least 11decisions about you in the first few seconds. Maybe you need to tone down your usual gregarious personality. Let people know you really appreciate their thoughts. Give them personal space. Shaking hands is an allowable body contact and using the technique with discretion will win friends. Be gentle with women and more firm with men. Many politicians add

the second hand on top of the handshake in the process. Did you know introversion and extroversion have roots in antiquity? About 350 BC Greek physician Hippocrates theorized about four fundamental personality types: sanguine, choleric, melancholic and phlegmatic. The basis for his theory was later rejected but some  personality type  systems continue to use four or more categories of a similar nature. Study personal profiles like the D.I.S.C. system to see how you can best see from the other person’s viewpoint. Read Positive Personality Profiles: D-I-S-C-over Personality Insights to Understand Yourself and Others! by Dr. Robert A. Rohm. Extroverts and introverts can actually complement each other. Many successful marriages are made by a combination of the two types. While Introversion and Extroversion are the most common forms of personality traits, there are as many as 64 different combination types and you would benefit from learning more about these different personalities. No one is 100% one personality of another. We are all composites. Using a personality profile test can indicate a tendency or a predominate type and a secondary type, which may be helpful to you in networking. Remember, if you are an extrovert, watch for the indicators that could sabotage a potentially profitable business relationship with an introvert. See you at the networking events. SBT Gail “The Connector” Stolzenburg is the Author of “Connections Now – Contacts to Clients” Contact him at 281 493 1955 for a list of the top networking events



5 Strategies to Recruit Top Talent to a Small Company Even with Increased Competition



ig businesses have a bevy of benefits to woo elusive talent but how does a small business with little to no brand recognition compete with established names? At this stage if you do not have a dedicated hiring team for bringing on more workers, there can be no better time to leave your double duty and get strategic with your hiring approach.

5 tips to help you get started with a hiring process that actually works:

1. Align your Workflow with an ATS As the candidate market gets tighter and the war for talent tougher, the only way to step up your talent acquisition game is by using the right recruiting technology. An applicant tracking system is exactly what you need to streamline, automate, and organize your hiring process. It eliminates all the manual work and leaves you ample time to identify, attract and hire in-demand candidates who can boost your bottom line. With an ATS, small business owners can get work done much faster by automating every redundant and time-consuming task at every stage of the sourcing cycle. Small businesses that invest in an ATS not only boost their hiring productivity but also have more time and resources that can be invested in other areas of the business. 2. Build your Employment Brand With a Compelling Careers Page Attracting quality hires requires a strong brand identity. With an applicant tracking system, companies can create a customized careers site that is applicant-friendly and impressive. You can also give it a personalized appeal with employee videos,

A good candidate who may not be the right fit for your current opening could be perfect for a job role down the line. With recruiting software, you can easily re-engage with these candidates to fill future vacancies.

robust, easy-to-use ATS, you will never miss an interested candidate and attract all the right candidates to fill your open positions. It also helps you make a compelling business case for why top talent should work for you, simplifies the application process to ensure a positive candidate experience, enables you to reach and source several job seekers with a single click, and also filters the right ones in a fraction of seconds.

match it with your brand colors, add your company logo, and share your job openings on different social media channels and job boards. A responsive careers site that projects a professional image and a great work culture is sure to attract the best of breed and help them make a career decision in your favor.

5. Keep Candidates in the Loop with Consistent Communication An ATS enables you to automate responses to ensure your applicants remain engaged and informed at every stage of the recruitment process. This eliminates the risk of interested applicants becoming disinterested in your offer due to lack of information. Traditional recruitment leaves little time to keep every candidate informed and engaged but with an ATS you can easily send personalized emails when you receive an application, when an interview is scheduled and when an employee proceeds to the next stage of the sourcing cycle. It also sends text and email reminders to candidates for upcoming interviews.

3. Set the Stage with Stellar Job Descriptions Do not think that since you have a great careers site, you can downplay your descriptions. They are equally important to impress job seekers. An ATS not only helps you draft an effective job description but also lets your advertise your job openings on multiple social platforms and popular job boards in a matter of minutes. When crafted wisely, your job description makes an effective marketing tool that can help you brings great candidates to your interview table and ATS helps you accelerate the whole job advertising process. 4. Build Candidate Pipeline with a Talent Magnet A good candidate who may not be the right fit for your current opening could be perfect for a job role down the line. With recruiting software, you can easily re-engage with these candidates to fill future vacancies. With a


When a small business owner considers the full impact of investing in a feature-rich ATS, it becomes very clear that technology can set every business up for success by streamlining the sourcing funnel and best serving the applicants. SBT Name: Kelly Barcelos Position: Digital Marketing Manager Company: Jobsoid ( Contact info:, contact


Financial Astrology

October 2017                  BY CHRISTI RUIZ


rand Trine (Luck) we are still under the influence of Uranus in Aries, Saturn in Sagittarius, and the North Node in Leo. This is still directing us toward success. Full Moon in Aries on the 5th of the month. New Moon in Libra on the 19th of the month. Aries March 21st to April 20th – Full Moon opens lines of communication and brings mutual understanding. New Moon will bring new people into your life and those around you may also bring you many surprises. Seek wise guidance and achieve emotional poise. Do not neglect your share of duties. Taurus April 21st to May 21st – Full Moon will highlight relationships and your passions will be strong with complicated emotions. New Moon highlights events at work/business with some nervousness and edginess. Remember to keep calm and reserved. Seek new work methods and be ready to help others. Gemini May 22 to June 21 – Full Moon may bring conflict with people and events. Use power dynamics to deal with financial situations. New Moon will give you an exciting start that was initially disruptive but will be a great outcome. As you break with the past it makes way for something new. Cancer June 22nd to July 22nd – Full Moon will bring lively interactions with others. New Moon will give you new beginnings. Expect more sudden shifts, turnarounds, or liberations. Settle outstanding matters quickly and lay the basics for achievement. Do not allow

business tensions to affect you. Leo July 23rd to August 22nd – Full Moon will spotlight relationships so that you bring them into balance. New Moon will bring a mix of exciting change and unsetting unpredictability. New people and experiences await you. Avoid displaying a negative attitude. Virgo August 23rd to September 23rd – Full Moon will bring stresses on the resources in your life. New Moon is about money and your fiscal year. You need to plant beneficial seeds on how to make money grow. Be focused on the details. This will define your future success. Libra September 24th to October 23rd – Full Moon intensifies relationships and will give you a chance to build upon them. New Moon will bring many challenges. The universe is bringing you change; do not upset the apple cart. Be patient and aware of opportunities even though things may not be perfect. At the end if you maintain harmony these things will benefit your business. Scorpio October 24 to November 22 – Full Moon polarizes your need for time alone away from your hectic day. This will renew your strength and give you a clear vision. New Moon you will sense a new awareness of others, hold back from outbursts or over reacting. Customer service is very important this month for your business. Sagittarius November 23 to December 21st – Full Moon will have you seeking to align yourself with the right people. This will

give you new recognition and status. New Moon will spotlight your social/ business interests. Some changes may be jarring and others exciting but all beneficial to your business. Capricorn December 22nd to January 20th – Full Moon brings urgency on work/business transactions. New Moon will be in your business zone, you will forge useful alliances. These will take you to higher places in the future with many benefits for your business. Aquarius January 21 to February 19th – Full Moon increases communication and to use safeguards concerning others. Protect your personal information. New Moon can bring a radical shift in thinking or circumstances. This will allow you to grow your business and grow spiritually. Do not disclose your views too early. Pisces February 20th to March 20th – Full Moon will have you focus on money and possessions. Recent activities will bring urgency on these things so that your take advantage of these opportunities. New Moon gives you a chance for a fresh start on joint finances, credit or a budget. This may be liberating and destabilizing at the same time. Avoid letting others imposing on you. SBT

Love & Light, Christi Ruiz Business and Spiritual Life Coach O: 713-773-0333 C: 281-904-2658



2 15 13

Altus Foundation H.M.S.D.C. I Cut Yards


4 1

Mercantil Bank





Phil & Dereks Restaurant and Jazz Bar SBT Radio Symmetry Fitness W.B.E.A.

Small Business Today  

September/ October 2017 - Houston

Small Business Today  

September/ October 2017 - Houston