Saturday, December 20, 2008

Steal Big!

This is a picture of Dale Hibbs or "Mr. Hibbs" as we called him back in the day at Iowa City High School. He was one of my favorite teachers, not just because he taught wildly fascinating classes, but he probably had the biggest arms and chest I have ever seen on a teacher. Always walking with swagger (probably something he picked up as a member of the Sons of Odom motorcycle gang) no one ever gave him grief.

He loved to talk about politics and gave everyone who turned 18 a voter registration card on the day of their birthday. It was his "gift" to us and I for one, have voted in every Presidential election since he handed me my voter registration card (although as a staunch Democrat I often wonder how disappointed he would be if he knew I was a registered Independent?!?!). He made fast friends with a lot of students when he would ask "Don't you think it's amazing that at 18 years of age you can cast a vote for someone to become the next President Of The United States, be old enough to go to war and die for your country but still not be old enough to drink a can of beer?" Huge cheers would erupt each and every time. He loved it.

He also taught something that I can still remember to this day. His lesson went something like this;

"I want you kids to know, that if I ever find out that one of you has held up a 7-11, I will find the prosecuting attorney and offer my services as a character witness about what a crummy student you were and how the judge should throw the book at you. But, if you embezzle a couple million dollars from IBM, I will find that same attorney and tell him what an upstanding student you were and how charges should be dropped or reduced as a result of your great contribution to this school and community. You see kids, when you factor economics into the equation, if yer gunna steal, STEAL BIG!"

So it is with a chuckle and grin that I have been reading about Bernie Madoff, the former NASDAQ Chairman who was arrested for embezzling $50 BILLION Dollars. I know that I am with Dale Hibbs in offering a standing ovation for a job well done. It takes an evil mind to keep up a 10 year rouse and if it weren't for his kids he'd still be doing it today. So Bernie, thanks for the laugh and to Mr. Hibbs, thanks for the education. After twenty years your lessons still ring true!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Cleaning House

On my way to work this morning, the AM radio talk show I was listening to was bemoaning the news that another local company was "releasing" 500 workers from its ranks. At first the news was upsetting because I feel bad for anyone who loses their job, particularly around this time of the year. It was also a double shot of reality as I found out yesterday that one of the local flower shops in my neighborhood was going out of business after many years of service. For the first time, I am seeing the very real effects of a down turn economy. You may have a brain seizure when I tell you that this is going to be a good thing... in the long run.

I was a high school senior the year Yellowstone National Park caught fire in 1988. I remember returning a few years later to see for myself the absolute destruction that this fire wrecked on that beautiful park. I truly believed that in my lifetime, Yellowstone would never be the same. As it turns out, I was both right and wrong.

It's been 20 years since those fire raged in 1988 and even today the scars are painfully visible. Amazingly, it has rebounded better than I ever thought possible. It has been well documented that even though the tremendous heat from those fires consumed anything and everything in its path, it also forced the pine cones to loosen their grip on seeds tucked neatly inside and in essence re-fertilized the soil again. Wildfires are Mother Natures way of cleaning house.

Depressions, recessions and down turn economies are also wildfires in a sense because they cause a lot of destruction. Businesses are forced to evaluate, cut back and streamline processes. Profitability values are assigned to products, services and painfully, employees. Despite this, I strongly believe that these painful choices are a good thing in the long run, even a GREAT thing. Follow my logic here.

History confirms that more millionaires were created from the smoldering ashes of the Great Depression than almost any other time in American history. Like a Yellowstone wildfire, the ground was prepared for new growth. When you take an average American worker, pull the rug out from underneath them and then hold their feet to the fire, something magical happens. Inevitably many will choose to take fate into their own hands and become entrepreneurs.

I predict that some of the greatest inventions, products and services that we will see in the next five years will be born out of this current economic down turn. We are seeing many of them at Funding Universe right now and many of them will tell you that it took this boot to the shorts to find the courage necessary to TRY.

If you happen to be an unfortunate casualty of the current economic crisis, I am truly sorry AND excited for your circumstance. I challenge you to seriously take a moment to ponder your situation and do some soul searching to see if there is an entrepreneurial spirit in you. Is this your time? If it is, feel free to contact Funding Universe to see what we can do to make your dreams a reality! Friends, this is a GREAT time to be alive!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Why Chase Bank Sux

 I just got off the phone with Chase Bank regarding my business checking account with them.  It appears that I am overdrawn $104.00 because of a $24 check.  How so much?  Follow their logic...

I had a $24.00 check that bounced so they return it and tag me $35 for NSF.    
Account Balance: -$35.00

Get this, THE SAME CHECK comes back two days later and they pay it!  Of course they assess me ANOTHER $35 NSF charge PLUS the cost of the $24 check.
New Account Balance:  -$94

The best part is that when you have a negative balance with Chase, they charge you a DAILY NSF charge of $5 per day per account!

Account Balance: -$104

What's even MORE remarkable about this story is that last month Chase pinged me for $570 in service fees because of my ATM card.  Each time I purchased a $1 Coke, Chase would pay the Coke and then charge me $35 NSF PLUS the $5 daily fee.  In a week I was minus $570 for $10 worth of Cokes.  To their credit, they did refund me $360.  Dreamy huh?

Needless to say, we are DONE with Chase Bank and closing our account tomorrow.  Chase was convenient because it was around the corner.  We have been with Cyprus Credit Union for six years now and we LOVE them.  They are great people and have been very fair and friendly.  I realize that Congress has agreed to bail these big banks out, no one told me that I was personally responsible for bailing out my local branch.  Perhaps I should start charging THEM $5 per day for each day I keep them open!