Archive for June, 2011

In Life as in Theater, A Professional Production has an Understudy waiting in the Wings, Amateurs hope for the best

Yesterday I was talking with a dear friend who is starring in a wonderful stage play and is playing every night to rave reviews. In live theater, every night it is a different experience for the actors and the audience. In short it’s like real life.

My usual questions were about how last night’s performance had gone and how the critics reviews were going when I learned something  interesting. Two nights ago the entire production was thrown into jeopardy because one of the main actors had overslept and the show could not go on without him to play his role. Being naive I asked, why the understudy couldn’t take his place. I learned that in most regional and community theater there are rarely any understudy.

Apparently one monkey can stop a show in regional theater. On broadway, in movies, even in Vegas there is always a backup plan but in everyday theater if one cast member gets sick or has an emergency it can bring the whole production to a  halt.

It seems that regional theater is run like most Americans run their family lives. Everything is ok as long as nothing major happens. If something does happen there is rarely a real well thought out plan.

The recession caught many of us without a plan. Deadly car accidents catch families unprepared everyday, when parents are suddenly taken away and no provisions are made. Deaths from cancer, heart disease, and diabetes are killing more young people in their 30s and 40s than ever before.

How many funerals have you been to in the last few years for young people? Few had a really solid plan in place to take care of their families and continue the work they had been engaged in everyday of their lives. No plans to replace income or address the expenses that come from a parent not being there. No college plan left in place. No financial legacy left for the next generation.

There were however devastated and overwhelmed survivors; there are always survivors. Devastated by the lost and overwhelmed by having to carry on life without a partner or parent.

Life is a professional production and it should be run that way. There must be back up plans, understudy, and back up dancers waiting in the wings in case the stars of the show can’t perform. If community and regional theaters want to truly prepare actors then they need to prep for what can go wrong.

You may not be wealthy but you need to have a well thought out back up plan like the wealthy.  The pain caused from not having a plan is greater on a small family. Plan for every eventuality  and you can more easily concentrate on the rest of your life.  Get advisors to educate and train  your family.

Good luck in the professional production called Life.

“Break a leg”


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B of A and Wells Fargo signal the Apocalypse for American Seniors and Everyone else

It may already be too late; but in America I am way before my time. For the last few years we have been warning people to take steps to guard their assets and equity from the impending downturn. Now in a major move that should be front page news Bank of America and Wells Fargo are exiting the reverse mortgage market.

Please read the article in the New York Times:

This is bad news for American seniors because Bank of America and Wells Fargo are taking the position that they don’t want to be overly exposed to the huge downturn in home prices that is about to happen. Instead they are willing to leave 43.6% of the reverse mortgage market on the table and opt for safety. When the two biggest players in a market walk away you can bet they know something that the American public doesn’t know.

If seniors lose the ability to borrow with reverse mortgages they will affectively be cut off from their equity because most can not qualify for loans on their fixed incomes. Great news for banks and really bad news for seniors. This move would also cut seniors off from what could be 85% of their net worth; because 85% of American’s net worth is real estate equity.

Why should the rest of Americans who are not seniors care? Because statistically the baby boomers are holding this country together. 65% to 70% of the wealth belongs to the boomers and 85% of that wealth is the real estate. If the Boomers get hurt we all get hurt and by the way, the boomers are our parents, grand parents, aunts and uncles who will look to their broke children for help.

There is time but not much to get educated and make some much better decisions, Don’t be like the majority of people who simply let their equity evaporate in 2008 even though all the best financial people were warning of an impending crisis. In a high inflation period interest rates soar for lending but they also soar for savings. So you would rather have your equity in a safe place earning interest for the next decade(because it will take at least that long to recover) 0r losing 30% to 40% with the drop in home prices.

And please don’t forget that the government is proposing to raise home down payments to 20% which will further kill home prices and equity.

It is time to make a move.

Watching the whole place burn to the ground is not an option. When the informed money moves away from the table you better wake up and do the right thing before the options are taken away from you.

Manager of Wealth

New York Times Article :

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Lebron James’ Failure to Win the Championship is a great business lesson

In case you haven’t heard, the Miami Heat lost the NBA Finals and the Dallas Mavericks are the Champs. The Mavs winning it all is the secondary headline however. The primary story is “Lebron James Failed.”

The Mavs did everything they needed to do to secure the championship. They played hard, smart and made up for each others shortcomings; never putting themselves out of contention. In fact, if you are a real sports fan then you know that this was the closest series ever played in NBA history. 4 points decided the winner from the loser in the games leading up to last night’s victory.

Now the sports media is giving Lebron James the beat down for a season that ended in failure. I think there are a few business lessons in this season that we can all profit from.


The decision to go to Miami and join forces with D Wade and C. Bosh was the right decision.

Every team owner in the country does exactly what James, Wade and Bosh did last year. They try to put the best possible team on the floor to win the championship. When the owners bring players together and they get to the finals they are regarded as brilliant but when the players dare to determine their own best interest the media and fans have a problem. The feeling is these dumb jocks need to shut up and play but this is a business and these are business men. Their decision got them within two games of their stated goal. In business you will fail and fall short but you have got to be mindful of your progress. The world will laugh at you for even trying but you are getting closer every second. Don’t get caught up in your failures, they are only a distraction.


Sometimes the environment beats you and sometimes you beat yourself.

If you watched the last two games of this series it was clear Miami failed itself. They simply failed to do their best.

In business, if you can acknowledge that you could have done more and figure out what else you could have done, you give yourself a chance to succeed next time.


Hate is terrible fuel and will often clog your engine at the worst possible time.

Since the 1990’s many athletes and entertainers have said they used peoples’ hate as their motivation. The outcomes are always bad. Think Puffy(death of Biggie), Kanye (total public mental break down), and now Lebron. The reason hate is a bad fuel is that it will get you through many obstacles but when it gets really tough you start thinking about your enemies. You get embarrassed and you start thinking about failing at the worst possible moment. I saw James play the first three series and he was thinking about winning, in the last two games  he was thinking about losing. It was all over his body language.

The mind can only hold one thought at a time, in business you can not allow that thought to be the voice of your competitors or detractors. That voice must be positive and affirming.

Lebron James is on the right track to accomplish his dreams and he is on the right team to make it happen. He just needs to work on his mental game because he came really close and I have no doubt he will get there.

What about you? Have you made the right decisions and surrounded yourself with the best people? Is it your environment or your actions that are keeping you from your goal? Are you fueling your mission with the positive energy of your supporters or the hate of your detractors?

Make the mental adjustments and go win your championship!

Mark Fuller

Manager of Wealth

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