It’s Gazillions Baby!

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So being a millionaire is no longer anything.


You’re still considered sort of a poor schlub!


Even a billionaire is not such a big deal anymore. 


It takes at least $2 billion to make it unto the Forbes 400 Richest Americans List


Further, a recent episode of CNBC Filthy Rich Guide asks who will become the world’s first trillionaire!


They say trillionaire as in a number with “4 commas”–never really thought of it that way.


…but it’s definitely a big,(1) big,(2) big,(3) big,(4) big number.


Jeff Bezos of Amazon with $90 billion currently in the bank and growing fast is forecasted to be the one who will make it. 


So no longer are we betting on which mega corporation–Apple (with a current value of almost $830 billion)–will become the first trillion dollar company.


We are talking individuals with that much moolah too. 


So with the median net worth of Americans a measly $69 thousand dollars, it’s no wonder that billionaires like Mr. Wonderful (Kevin O’Leary of Shark Tank) calls more than one entreprenuer looking for an investment, a cockroach!


What’s a shame is not only the complete social inequity and class system that we have and that continues to grow with those in McMansions and others homeless, but also that so many can’t see that what’s really important is not the beautiful pocketbook full of money, but the decent soul filled with good deeds! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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Where Does Organized Religion Go Wrong

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So I am definitely someone who is spiritual and tries to be faithful to G-d.


I believe, He is my creator and sustainer and that we are here to learn and grow our soul before it goes back to Hashem. 


Yet often, like so many others now-a-days, I find organized religion to be a turn-off. 


Why?


1) There is a consistency and sincerity problem.


To some people, I believe it’s partially the rote and robotic nature of some of the practices–where we just do it, because we are told to do it, and we do it over and over and time after time, again–even when we don’t feel it in the moment, and even if we do other things that are not so right in other areas of our lives.  


In contrast perhaps, there can be more spontaneous and genuine feelings and actions, in the moment and every moment–that come from the heart and the soul of the person and directly to G-d–and they are consistent whether we are in a religious setting to how we treat others and how we act in business. 


In other words, we just don’t follow the rules, but we live them fully and integrated with ourselves and all situations we find ourselves in. 


2)  There is a money and power problem.


In some religious environments, all people are not created equal or treated equal. Instead, the say, the attention, and the honor goes to the powerful and the rich, who are courted for their donations and their votes to the institution and the spiritual leader. Who gets talked up? Who is given the honors at the religious rituals, at the events and the dinners, and with their communal “peers”? 


In other cases, it’s not just money and power that talks, but who is outwardly the “most religious” and presumably walks the walk.  If you but “seem” more religious than the next guy, then you are elevated and exalted in the religious community.  


Instead, what happened to welcoming and caring for everyone–to everyone being children of G-d–to each person having a soul and their personal life challenges. Why can’t we treat everyone as religiously worthwhile and give everyone a chance to learn and grow in their own way from their starting point and to their destination?  


Religion should be the one place that isn’t a competition with others. 


Religion is ultimately between man and G-d!


And only G-d knows what is inside man’s heart and in his soul–and what his actions really are all the time and what they truly mean in context and in essence


I welcome G-d in my life, because I:


– Have faith in Him and that ultimately He has a master plan and that everything is for the good 

– Love Him for giving me the chance to learn and grow my soul to be better

– Fear Him for when I do something wrong in my life and need a course correction 


I wish for a time and transformation when religion would not just be based on outward manifestations but on being sincere and consistent in people’s lives, and where people would no longer be superficially judged and (mis)treated because they are themselves and on their G-d given paths. 


If only we could religiously love, rather than endlessly judge, each other, oh what a heartfelt and inspiring religion that would be. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Party With Cookies Like It’s The End Of The Fiscal Year

 

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It’s funny, today the last business day of the fiscal year…


That means that this time of year is a lot of stress on a lot of people.


So what do they do?


Well, while a lot of people are reaching for the do-re-mi ($$$) to earn and to spend before the books close, others are reaching for the plain old (cookie) dough. 


This week for example, there was a big cookie party!


So much stress, so little time.


That seems to translate into cookie days, and carbohydrate weeks. 


This isn’t just the end of the fiscal year, but a potentially fatty, dangerous time too. 


The timing is also weird because of the juxtaposition to Yom Kippur tomorrow which is a fasting day with NO food or water for 25 hours.


Better eat some more cookies now (or not). 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

What Women Want From Men

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So I was talking to this nice gentleman.


He was telling me that he lost his wife of over 27 years to cancer–this happened over 15 years ago. 


And since then, he had a girlfriend who recently broke his heart and married someone else. 


I felt really bad and sorry for this nice man–who is always so friendly and intelligent.  


He says to me:

“Over the years, I’ve learned what women want from men.”


I ask him inquiringly:

“And what is that?”


He’s obviously glad that I asked, and he proceeds to tell me:

“Women want two things: curiosity and security.”


Not understanding what he means by the first one, I ask:

“What do you mean curiosity?”


He looks intently at me and says:

“Women want to talk, and they want to know what’s going on.”


He explains to me that if you talk and be a good listener to women and provide (your part) materially in a stable relationship with them–they will be happy and you will be happy. 


This is sort of the “Happy wife, happy life” idea that I’ve heard before. 


Listen, even at this stage in my life, with a wife and two lovely daughters, I can still learn something about what makes women happy…teach me the pearls of wisdom and I will learn it well. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Learning To Save For A Rainy Day

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This was so funny coming across this big bright red piggy bank in a thrift store. 


What a blast from the past!


I remember having one of these as a child. 


My parents taught me to put my allowance in to save for the future. 


When it accumulated $10, the metal door on the bottom would open and we could put the money in the bank.


It was like a game to try to get to the magic amount and get the register to pop open.


In those days, the bank had little books for your checking and savings accounts, and when you deposited the money, you’d get a line printed with the deposit and new balance printed in the dot matrix print of yesteryear. 


Again, these were all good lessons about savings and seeing the benefits in the toy register or in your bank book.


Maybe these were things that initially inspired me to get my bachelors degree in accounting.  


The discipline of numbers was great, but it was never as exciting as the promise and hope of ever new technology, but that’s what added up at the time to me. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

It’s Just Bling

Crystal Kids.jpegSo sitting in synagogue today, my friend Jacob said something very interesting to me.


He was talking about some very wealthy people with multi-millions and even billions. 


And then he says, you know what the difference is between the rich and everyone else:

“Nothing!”


I asked him what he meant by this.


Then he starts listing off to me like this:

“Well, they live in a home, and you live in a home.
They drive a car, and you drive a car.
They eat food and you eat food.”

And it was amazing how smart his words were, and it hit me how right he was. 


It’s all sort of just in our minds.


Their homes are bigger and nicer; their cars are more luxurious and fancier; their food is better and tastier…but what difference is any of that really.


We both have a roof over our heads to protect us from the elements and a nice place to sleep. 


We both have a car that gets us from here to there and back again. 


We both have food and drink to fill our bellies and nourish us. 


Isn’t the rest just a bunch of bling?


It’s branding and marketing and the sense of luxury that some are better and have more than others. 


But beyond the essentials, we really don’t need any of that!


What we do need is our relationships–people we care about and love and who love us. 


The ability to have a deep impact on others. 


To influence them and make a difference in their lives–in what they do and how they treat others. 


The ability to help people and society. 


The bling is just bling. 


The ability to love and influence that is true wealth. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

I Got The Call

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I got the call!


But not the one that I always wanted, which is to serve at the very highest echelons of government or/and industry for those values and things which I so hold dear. 


No, instead I got the call that my professor in college warned me about. 


He said:

“You will get a call one day from someone asking for a lot of cash–no questions asked! At that time, you will know who you’re real friends are.”


So I actually got this call (for real) and in the middle of my work day.


This person who contacts me is considered quite affluent and with an extensive network, and I know him/her for only a relatively short time


Person:

“You know you’re like family to me Andy…I need $2,000–in cash–by 7 pm. I’ll pay you back $500 on Friday and the rest by Monday.”


Me (Stunned):

“What–is this a joke or something?”


Person:

{Repeats again the request}


Me:

“OMG. What’s wrong–is everyone okay? Are you in any trouble?”


Person:

Uh, everyone’s fine…don’t ask me any questions–there’s no time for this now.”


Me {Reaching for some humor in this bizarre situation}:

“Oh, only $2,000–I thought maybe you needed $2 million–that’s no problem, of course.”


Person:

“Please don’t make jokes now Andy–this isn’t funny!”


Me {Trying once again to get some more–any–information}:

“Can you just explain to me what’s going on–I really want to understand, so I can help you.”


Person:

“Do you have the cash or not?”


Me: 

“To be frank no. I don’t keep any cash around. {Inquiring to learn more…} Could you take a check or something else?”


Person:

“No. Listen, can you go to the ATM now?”


Me {frustrated by the abruptness, lack of sensical communication, and pushiness, as well as more than a little suspicious at how this is all going down}:

“Well the ATMs have a cash limit. Also, I would really need to check with my {lovely} wife first,”


Person {seeing they weren’t getting what they wanted when they wanted it}:

“Okay, well if you can’t help, I’ll just call someone else–thanks {hanging up on me}!” 


WOW!


Despite having trusted this person and feeling very hurt by all this, I still called the person back later that evening to follow up and because I truly cared, and they were still not any more forthcoming with me, and in fact, were quite attacking that they were sorry to have called me.


But I wasn’t sorry…my college professor was right on, thank G-d–I do know who my friends are!


Whether its a lunch date, LinkedIn/Facebook contact, or social invitation, be discerning about the motives of people–outside of any sane and normal context–that are seeking to “friend” you. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)