Monday, December 26, 2016

Sometimes I Just Sits and Wonder

By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, December 25, 2016

It’s Christmas morning, about 5:00 AM, no one is up but me and my puppy.  I get Sophie her treat, me a cup of coffee, put the Fireplace DVD on the big screen television in the living room, take up my position on the floor and turn on my trusty tablet and open it to a book that was written in 1914 by Orison Swett Marden, An Iron Will; I am almost finished reading it. 

Very relaxing, seeing the burning embers out of the corner of my eye and hearing the crackling of the fire’s song in my ear while I read on.  Then a paragraph from the book jumped from the page that caused me to “just sits and wonder”….

“James Sharpies, the celebrated blacksmith artist of England, was very poor, but he often rose at three o'clock to copy books he could not buy. He would walk eighteen miles to Manchester and back after a hard day's work, to buy a shilling's worth of artist's materials. He would ask for the heaviest work in the blacksmith shop, because it took a longer time to heat at the forge, and he could thus have many spare minutes to study the precious book, which he propped up against the chimney. He was a great miser of spare moments, and used every one as though he might never see another. He devoted his leisure hours for five years to that wonderful production, "The Forge," copies of which are to be seen in many a home. It was by one unwavering aim, carried out by an iron will, that he wrought out his life triumph.”

So as I “just sits and wonder” I realized that I just turned on a television set to experience a faux fire where not more than 100 years ago young men and women might be lying on a floor just to read a book by the flames of a real fire for lack of a simple candle.  Nor did I have to walk even one step to acquire a book; I could download almost any book I wanted within seconds from the Internet.  I think of the times I have heard  people say “I don’t have the time to read, I don’t know where you find the time.”  Time has always been there for everyone.  In fact we are each allotted the same exact amount of time; 60 seconds per minute.  What is lacking is a desire or drive to use the time we have been given wisely by educating ourselves.  Consider this excerpt from the same book by Marden, the words in parenthesis are by me;

“We hear a great deal of talk about genius, talent, luck, chance, cleverness, and fine manners playing a large part in one's success. Leaving out luck and chance, all these elements are important factors. Yet the possession of any or all of them, unaccompanied by a definite aim (focus), a determined purpose (goal), will not insure success. Men drift into business. They drift into society. They drift into politics. They drift into what they fondly and but vainly imagine is religion. If winds and tides are favorable, all is well; if not, all is wrong. Stalker says: "Most men merely drift through life, and the work they do is determined by a hundred different circumstances; they might as well be doing anything else, or they would prefer to be doing nothing at all." Yet whatever else may have been lacking in the giants of the race, the men who have been conspicuously successful have all had one characteristic in common--doggedness and persistence of purpose.”

When you “just sits and wonder” as I was doing this moring, your mind can take you to a lot of places that you will soon forget unless you write them down and record them for future use as I do now.  At first I wondered if I would have had the persistence and drive to even walk around the block to get a book let alone several miles in the snow.  Would I have set aside the time I thought I did not have to read the book instead of using that same time to sleep, daydream, play, eat or whatever else there was to do at the time.   Makes you wonder, does it not?  Does me!

For the record, I usually get up early, whether I want to or not.  I typically use the early morning hour(s) to read and/or write for at least an hour just like I did in writing this Nugget.  That would be time that most others, certainly not you, have said they do not have time for.  When the weather is nice and there are not other chores to do, I oftentimes sit out on the patio with book in hand, sometimes for 10 minutes, sometimes for an hour.  I was asked when I found the time to read and I usually say, “here and there” because that truly is when I read, “here and there.”

I write about the reading I engage in not to impress you or anyone who may read this not to impress upon them that I read, I do so to impress upon the reader that there is a great deal of information that I do not know and that reading is the best way to discover and learn it.  It was not always that way for me.  In fact I really didn’t start to read books until I was in my early 40s.  I spent 20 years in the U. S. Coast Guard during which time I would read Personnel Manuals, Federal Regulations, Commandant Instructions, beer bottle labels, you name it but books that I made the decision to read instead of books someone else told me I had to read, no way; “I could never find the time nor the desire.”

The Coast Guard made me grow up and grow up fast or be left behind.  It was a structured life except for promotions.  Promotions were 100% voluntary; you either pursued them or you didn’t.  I pursued them.  I found out what was necessary like time required in your current rank, recommendations by your commanding officer, completion of a course or all of them combined.  Marden wrote, “Yet whatever else may have been lacking in the giants of the race, the men who have been conspicuously successful have all had one characteristic in common--doggedness and persistence of purpose.”  My “purpose” or my “goal” was self-defined – I wanted to advance through the ranks as fast as possible; I had a family to support.  To do so you had to read and not only did I read, I studied what I had to in order to be the best at what I did. 

It was then I noticed a funny thing happened on the way to eventually retiring from the Coast Guard.  The more I read and the more I studied, the more people around me sought out my advice and counsel.  As that happened even better things came my way.  Funny how that happens.

I believe that there are incidents in our lives that act as catalysts that thrust us into bigger and better things and oftentimes may even redirect the rest of our lives.  For example, for me it was a cassette tape set by Lee Shelton entitled Creating Teamwork.  I was just hired as a manager for a large real estate office.  I managed Coast Guard personnel but never had I managed any civilian business concerns.  I was out of my element.  “When the student is ready the teacher will appear. When the student is truly ready... The teacher will Disappear.”  Lao Tzu.  I fully understand the first part of that quotation because for me it was Lee Shelton’s tape set.  I saw an advertisement in a magazine for the tape and although I had never purchased educational or motivational tapes before, I felt an urge to purchase this set of tapes.  I had become the “student who was ready” and Lee Shelton the “teacher.”


I listened to those tapes over and over again until I could actually recite them, maybe not word for word but certainly thought for thought.  I later met Lee Shelton and he would joke that I could give his seminar better than he could; not true but certainly appreciated.  During the tape, Shelton suggested that everyone and especially men and women in business and management should read the book I’m OK; You’re OK by Thomas Harris and read it every six months.  That one set of tapes by Shelton and that one book by Harris planted a seed within me that blossomed into a thirst to read more, to listen to more tapes, to attend more seminars all for the single purpose of becoming the best I could be in all things related to real estate sales and managing real estate agents.


How do you define success?  For me it was simple.  Was I satisfied with how I performing as a Real Estate Agent, a Designated Real Estate Broker, a Co-Owner of a Real Estate Office, and a Manager of Real Estate Agents?  The answer was very easy; no but I was always getting better, I was moving forward.  The education of yours truly was a never ending endeavor.


Here are the questions for you:


1.  Do you have a “definite aim” – focus?
2.  Do you have a “determined purpose” – goal(s)?
3.  Do you have a “doggedness and persistence of purpose” - dedication and determination?
4.  Are you willing to INVEST YOUR time in YOUR FUTURE, RIGHT NOW?


It has been my experience in dealing with hundreds of fellow Coast Guard men and women and hundreds of real estate agents that most would answer YES to #1, #2 and #3 but when it comes to question #4, that is where they have all fallen woefully short, they simply did not see the value of investing their time, their most precious asset, to achieve their desires; all of their desires!

"Most men (women) merely drift through life, and the work they do is determined by a hundred different circumstances; they might as well be doing anything else, or they would prefer to be doing nothing at all."

Saturday, December 17, 2016

You Too Can Refinance 100% of Your Home's Value

You Too Can Refinance 100% 
of Your Home’s Value
By Jim "Gymbeaux" Brown, December 15, 2016

You’ve seen the commercials on TV and in magazines where someone suggests that “We’re here to help you realize your dreams by borrowing 100% of your home’s value in order to pay your bills, take a vacation, or whatever else you want to do like spend it on a new car”, blah, blah, blah.”

I fell for that line and have regretted ever since.  If you refinance your home in order to obtain a lower interest rate that is one thing but if you refinance your home to withdraw equity (money) from its value that is entirely a different animal and it IS an animal, a vicious money-eating animal.

Before I explain why, let me suggest that you should ask and have answered a few questions that mortgage loan officers may or may not ask but should:

What is your purpose for wanting to build equity in your home; is it short term or long term?
Do you intend to live in your home for a long period of time?  Long in this case would be for 5 years or more.
Do you intend to pay off your home so that you will not have mortgage payments when you retire?
Do you intend to build equity in order to buy a bigger home or relocate in the future?
Do you currently have sufficient income to pay off your bills as they accrue?

Building Equity:  If your intent is to build equity, you do not want to refinance for 100% of your home’s value as you then eliminate some or all of the equity you have already built up.  The only possible exception to this would be that you have an opportunity to REINVEST the equity in another investment that is guaranteed NOT TO FAIL.  The last time I checked, those opportunities are few and far between if they exist at all and rarely stand up and shout HERE I AM; BUY ME!  Those types of opportunities usually look pretty good AFTER the opportunities to invest have already past.  If your goal is to build equity you want to pay off your home as fast as you can.  As you are paying down your loan, you are building up your equity.  Hopefully at the same time your home is also increasing in market value thus increasing your equity even more.  When you couple these two things you are creating a sizeable amount of equity (money) within your financial portfolio.  For most people their home is their single biggest investment for their future.  The equity could then be utilized to help fund your life in retirement or provide an inheritance to your children or both.

The days of working for a company that provides a retirement income for most people are dwindling for two reasons.  People no longer start at one company and remain there through retirement and secondly more companies have decided it is better to pay people more and not include a retirement program.  The later requires you to invest in your own retirement plans and to do that you have several alternatives.  The first is to build up the equity you have in your home or homes.  The second involves investing a part of  your earnings into retirement accounts.  A third plan would include both the equity in your home as well as a separate financial retirement plan.  Retirement plans could include stocks, bonds, mutual accounts, and any other investments designed for retirement purposes.  But if you are lured into retrieving the equity from your home by refinancing for 100% or even more, you are removing MONEY from your future retirement financial plan and simply extending the time required to continually be making house payments, something most retirees would prefer not to be making.

DO YOU INTEND TO LIVE IN YOUR HOME FOR A LONG PERIOD OF TIME?  This is a question that should be answered when you FIRST finance your home.  Far too often mortgage loan officers simply assume you want a fix rate thirty year mortgage.  Just look around and ask what your friends have done.  Most people do not consider any other alternatives.  In brief, if you know you are only going to be in your home for a short period of time like 3 or 4 years, you may want to consider a variable rate mortgage where the interest rate starts low and increases over time and eventually becomes permanent at a much higher rate at a time when you know you will no longer be in the home.  Therefore a variable rate mortgage might be in your best financial interest as you will be paying less interest for the home while you live there and still increasing your equity at the same time.  Then you sell it BEFORE the interest rate increases to an unacceptable rate.

But…if you plan to live in your home for an indefinite period of time, you probably want or should want more stability in the interest rate you are paying and the total monthly note you are paying (principle, interest, taxes and insurance known as PITI).  In this case you may want a thirty year mortgage at a fixed rate.  Over my lifetime, interest rates have been as low as 2.5% and as high as 21.0%.  Therefore TIMING is critical as to when you buy and what interest rate you will be paying.  If you bought a home when the interest rate was 21% you would be wise to refinance every chance you get to lower it and that may mean refinancing your home every 2 or 3 years as the interest rates drop.  I AM NOT A FINANCIAL MANAGER OR EXPERT.  However, I have been told by people who are that it is probably in your best financial interest to refinance when the interest rate drops approximately 2% over what you are currently paying.  On the surface you would think that any drop in interest rate would be beneficial to you but that may not be true.  There is a cost involved in refinancing and depending upon the market at the time you decide to refinance and incentives being offered by loan companies, that cost could be thousands of dollars in legal fees, appraisal fees, inspection fees, and fees in general. 

If you are planning on living in your home into your retirement years, you probably want to pay off your home as quickly as possible or at least to be near a payoff by the time you retire.  Remember that your income for most people will be reduced upon your retirement and if you did not plan accordingly, you may not have sufficient income to live as you did before and still have funds to pay your existing mortgage.  If that is the case, that may be a reason to refinance for a longer period of time to reduce your monthly out-of-pocket expense of your home.  In an ideal situation you retire and your home is paid off leaving you with only Taxes and Insurance as well as your home’s routine maintenance and improvements.

Another important consideration involves a “what if” situation.  What if you were to lose your primary source of income like losing your job?  If you have refinanced your home and removed most if not of its equity, you no longer have your equity as a potential asset that you can borrow on or acquire through the sale of your home.

EMERGENCIES:  Life has a way of dealing us problems that require money to fix like medical expenses, college tuitions, or just about anything you can think of.  If you find yourself in such a situation, refinancing your home to withdraw equity may be your best or only chance to pay these types of expenses when money is NOT available to do so.  Of course that will dictate your decision.  But even in those cases, I would strongly recommend you get the assistance of a financial expert to help you with finding the best solution. 

Keep in mind that mortgage companies are in the business of loaning money because they make money on every loan they grant; it is called making profits.  Their due diligence is to the mortgage company not necessarily to you the customer because they are in the business of making a profit for the company.  When companies such as you see on TV encourage you to consider refinancing your home for up to 100% of its current value or more they are NOT NECESSARILY making that suggestion because you need it as much as they are planting a seed in your mind.  Just imagine what you can do by extracting the equity in your home; thus making a profit for the mortgage company.  I am not faulting loan officers only suggesting that you look at ALL options available to you - first.

Funny, as I am working on this Nugget the TV is on and in the background I am listening to the THIRD commercial for 100% financing encouraging you to lower your payment, or withdrawing cash to help you with your needs.  It makes me sick because for most people, that is not a good decision as I have explained.

I believe in working backwards to determine your path to reach your goal(s).  For example, if your financial goal is to live and retire in your present home, or even if you want to buy a retirement home in another location, you want to have as much cash available to you as possible.  Building the equity in the home you currently live in is one way to do that.  You can then remain in the home you live in without a mortgage or you can sell your current home and use the equity you have built up to buy your retirement home.

Either way, your equity remains intact and it continues to be an asset for you.  It is simply “money in the bank.”  If you do nothing else, you can always withdraw some or all of that equity by taking out a new mortgage for the amount you need, provided it is less than the current market value of the home, or you can sell your home for its current market value.  I continually refer to “market value” because that is what determines the amount of your equity minus any current loans that may remain on the home.  Market Value minus Loan(s) amount equals Equity.

Your equity can be accessed in several ways, one of which is setting up a line-of-credit on your home with a bank.  The bank agrees to make money available to you that you can withdraw by simply writing a check on your equity.  The interest rates on lines of credit vary with the money market and while this is an extremely easy access to your equity it is also dangerous because of its simplicity AND because the interest rate is more likely to increase than to decrease.  Still it is a great thing to have access to as an insurance policy to available cash - just in case. 

The second way to access the equity in your home applies to people 65 years and older and that is the Reverse Mortgage.  It is too complicated to fully explain but it means that you are selling your home to a bank that pays you the equity you have accumulated in your home in a lump sum or payments over time and you continue to live in the home.  I would strongly recommend you talk with a financial planning expert and your family members instead of getting advice from your neighbors, friends or even a mortgage company none of whom have responsibility for your best interest; especially the mortgage company who wants to make a profit.

I decided to write this Nugget because the barrage of TV commercials encouraging you to refinance your home and withdraw the equity you have accumulated.  They all sound so good and so easy that you begin to think, why not?  There are so many reasons NOT to fall for their ads than there are TO fall for the ads.  Do not think you know what is best for your financial future UNLESS of course you have been trained in such matters and/or have studied and researched the situation.  Get financial help before you make such long-lasting decisions that you will be paying for long into your retired years.

Human nature has proven that most people, certainly not you, tend to spend not only what they make but a little more through the use of credit cards and personal loans.  Credit cards, retail stores and car dealers selling on credit are like a cancer to your personal financial security.  They make it far too easy to spend money that you do not have; much like our Federal Government whose debt may be 20 Trillion Dollars by the time you read this.  Whether it is a home, a car, a coat, a dress, new golf clubs, whatever, how do you know you can afford to purchase the item(s) if you do not have a personal/family budget that provides you with a BOTTOM LINE showing you if you are in PLUS or a MINUS financial posture?  How can you go into a refinancing situation if you do not know your family budget, both income and expenses?  Unfortunately commercial concerns makes it far too easy for you to exceed your budget and you therefore make the sale. 

If you ever priced out a $300 TV set that you finance, you would be shocked at the total amount paid for that $300 TV.  It could approach $700 or more by the time it is paid off.  I found an easy check and balance approach that has stopped me from purchasing “things” by asking a simple question.  How long would I have to work to pay for this $300 TV?  You will be surprised at how quickly that stops you in your tracks from buying the item unless you absolutely NEED it.  Refinancing your home is no different.  How long will it take to pay off my home?  How much interest will I eventually pay to pay the loan off (a staggering amount, sometimes 3 times the original loan amount depending upon the interest rate charged)?  How long will I have to work in order to pay for this home plus interest?  Remember you already have a loan on the home and you have hopefully already built up some equity.  What damage to my equity will refinancing THIS home cost me/our and my/our future(s) if I remove all or part of the equity out of the home in the refinancing process?

I’ve been there; I’ve done that; and, I’ve regretted it ever since!  I will not do it again EXCEPT of course if I am able to refinance my loan in order to obtain a LOWER interest rate PLUS a SHORTER loan period.  And consider this, it does not cost all that much more to finance a home for a period less than 30 years like 20, 15 or even 10; think about it.  Run the numbers, see what works best for you and your family.

Monday, December 5, 2016

It is Not Okay to be Average!

It is Not Okay to be Average!
By Jim "Gymbeaux" Brown, December 5, 2016

Before you can contemplate that statement you first have to define what it is to be AVERAGE.  Think about it, if you were one of one hundred people, what would be considered AVERAGE?  To me it would be someone who falls within 5 people of the number 50.  In other words, if you fell between 45 and 55, you would be average.  56 and above would be above average, 44 and below would be below average.  Therefore being average allows you to fall within a very small number of people out of 100.

If you were an employer, would you hire someone who was AVERAGE or BELOW AVERAGE?  Probably not; why would you?  If you are able to choose from all of the 100 people, you would probably target the top 45 of the 100 people not the lower 55.  I would definitely NOT want someone who believes it is okay to be average; therein lies the problem; BEING AVERAGE?  If someone actually believes it is okay to be average, you will forever have an “average” employee working for you.  Why would you ever want that for your company?

In 2016 we see one monumental invention/improvement day after day. It is almost impossible to think of what might be coming in the future.  Do you think these inventions or improvements were created by average people?  A few maybe, but the rest most definitely not.  They were more likely invented or created by someone who personally does not consider themselves as “average” nor do their employers nor are these people ever satisfied with the status quo.  When an employer hires someone who is exceptional (above average), they know they have the proverbial diamond in the rough.  Their job is to enable that diamond to truly shine its brilliance, they let the person grow not only to a perceived personal ceiling but more importantly to exceed that ceiling and reach heights even they did not know they could reach.

I can hear the disagreements as some people read this.  “But not everyone has the same educational opportunities and therefore would find it difficult if not impossible to become “above average.”  My response?  Tell that to Abraham Lincoln, tell that to Daniel Webster and if you check your history, you will find a list of people who rose from their environments of extreme poverty and void of any educational opportunities to heights of prominence in spite of their environment or lack of education.  How did they do it when the children of today rest on THEIR environment as an excuse for not being able to learn, advance and become successful?

Very few people are born with the physical attributes to play professional sports yet a great many work and practice until they acquire them.  They have a dream.  They are focused on the goal.  They enjoy sports.  But not everyone even with all those things working for them, make it to the professional sports ranks.  Sports is a metaphor for setting a goal and then determining what one must do in order to achieve and even surpass their goal(s).  What must I do today if my goal is to become an astronaut tomorrow?  What must I do today if my goal is to become a successful politician, writer, actor, scientist, etc., etc. tomorrow?

Can you explain how a 7 year old little league baseball player can understand what it would take to make it to the next level of competition when everyone, not only on his or her team, but everyone throughout the league receives a “participation trophy.”  Individuals are not encouraged to do their best to make a team as a starter because everyone plays; not just the best of the best but everyone.  If I were one of the 7 year old boys who had to play in such an environment I could not help but ask why another boy is playing and not me, I catch better, I run faster, I hit better yet he is playing and I am not.  Transfer that logic to any school classroom where everyone seems to pass to the next grade no matter what their scores.  Where is the desire to become anything other than “just average?” 

To me, teaching students to “color within the lines” is doing nothing but creating average students and therefore average or even below average adults.  Where is the incentive to reach the top of the class if you cannot think  or you are not encouraged to think beyond the borders?  There is none unless a student plays the game for outwardly appearances and then uses his or her time, usually with the help of caring parents, to do more than the minimum required by the schools.  

What happens to the teachers in today’s schools.  This is just my personal opinion but I can relate to what happened to me while working in a steel mill in 1964 where I was required to join the Steelworkers Union.  I was forbidden by the union foreman to do anything more than the minimum required otherwise I would make the other union workers look bad.  So instead of encouraging me to do more and accept more responsibility, I had a union imposed ceiling that I was not to exceed. 

If a teacher wants to become more successful, they typically do it by going the extra mile within their classrooms, attend non-required educational courses, read books, or work on their time to earn their Masters or Doctors Degrees.  That hopefully positions them to better help their students they teach.  But what about the teacher who wants to help his or her students excel and is willing to go the “extra mile, when most other teachers do not?”  How do the other teachers perceive him or her when they can clearly see the teacher has gone that extra mile to help his or her students when they chose to do only the minimum required?  Teachers typically are paid not based on any production results.  No, they are paid based on being hired and then their years on the job and an occasional pay raise granted by the local or state officials.  There is very little incentive for teachers to excel unless they do it on their volition.

Interesting question.  If you have school age children, would you want them taught by teachers who only have to do the minimum or by the average or below average teacher?  Or would you want your children to be taught by teachers who will recognize those students who both want and need more than just the minimum and are not restricted by other teachers opinions, school administration policies, and/or union imposed limitations?

If you have children involved in sports, would you want them to receive a participation trophy for just showing up or would you want them to be coached and encouraged to reach higher personal achievements with the idea they may progress to even more competitive teams and maybe even a college scholarship?

If you have children who are now going out into the workforce, would you want them taking jobs that pay only minimum wages or would you want them to work at a location where they can learn and advance through the system even if that means starting out at a minimum wage?

I am going to recommend that everyone read Orsin Swett Marden’s book, Pushing to the Front.  If you think I described “today’s” problems, you are both right and wrong.  They existed when Marden wrote this book in the late 1890s AND THEY STILL exist today.  That is not a misprint, 1890!  As I read his book and several of his other books, it became obvious that the problems we experience today we would have also experienced back in the 1890’s and early 1900s.  How do I know this?  Marden wrote about them in 1890.  They are still with us today.  What does that mean?  It means that if we continue on a path of ignoring the past, we can’t help but repeat it as we have been doing ever since the 1890s.  How sad is that?  Read the book  It is long but definitely proves the point.  It is also free and in this case FREE is PRICELESS.  You can download and read a free version on Kindle (which is also free) at

The lesson learned?  It is NOT okay just to be average!  
How does one excel beyond average?  
That’s simple:

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Just One Hour A Day, Just One Hour!

By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, September 22, 2016

I can remember it as if it were yesterday; I had a very serious conversation with my employer at the time, Dr. Tom Hill  We were having a cup of coffee at a local restaurant before we headed out to start our day of visiting local real estate offices.  We had done this many times in the past and these coffees were usually very cordial and jovial.  This morning it was different.  Dr. Tom looked at me very seriously and asked, “Jim, do you know what is wrong with you?”  The question totally caught me off guard and was very unusual when compared to other coffees and conversations we have had.  I remember responding, “I didn’t know I had a problem.  So to answer your question, no I don’t.”

That was the beginning of a conversation that changed the rest of my life.  We reviewed my life up to that point in time.  Dr. Tom pointed out that I would work very diligently at a job/position and then I seemed to reach a point where for no apparent reason, I would change directions and that usually meant leaving the job/position not to be confused with projects.  I had been so close to the “top” and then just suddenly change directions.  Then came the real question:  “Is there someone in your life or some event that would have suggested that you did not deserve to be successful?”  I have always heard of the “fear of success” but had never attributed it to me.  In fact, I never really understood how someone could actually fear becoming successful.  Sadly for me, this conversation occurred when I was about 50 years old and not when I was 30ish.  It is very easy to be a Monday Morning Quarterback and look at your woulda-coulda-shoulda’s in life; this was one of those instances. 

“All The Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas
Layin' In The Sun,
Talkin' 'Bout The Things
They Woulda-Coulda-Shoulda Done...
But All Those Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas
All Ran Away And Hid
From One Little Did.”
Shel Silverstein

Dr. Tom and I looked back over my life to try to ascertain who that person or what event that might have been.  Before I explain what or who that was, please read the following excerpt from Orison Swett Marden's book Pushing to the Front; a most amazing read that he wrote in 1911.  You can obtain a free Kindle version from

From the book, the portions emboldened were done so by me…

"Thousands of men who have been failures in life have done drudgery enough in half a dozen different occupations to have enabled them to reach great success, if their efforts had all been expended in one direction.  The mechanic is a failure who starts out to build an engine, but does not quite accomplish it, and shifts into some other occupation where perhaps he will almost succeed, but stops just short of the point of proficiency in his acquisition and so fails again.  The world is full of people who are “almost a success.”  They stop just this side of success.  Their courage oozes out just before they become expert.  How many of us have acquisitions which remain permanently unavailable because not carried quite to the point of skill?  How many people “almost know a language or two,” which they can neither write nor speak; a science or two shows elements they have not quite acquired; an art or two particularly mastered, but which they cannot practice with satisfaction or profit!  The habit of desultoriness, which has been acquired by allowing yourself to abandon a half-finished work, more than balances any little skill gained in one vocation which might possibly be of use later." 

Orison Swett Marden, wrote this in 1911.  You may know what “desultoriness” means, I didn’t when I first read it so just in case you are like me, it means: digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random.  

Dr. Tom and I later discovered that in my father's attempt to impress upon me his belief in obtaining a college education. I had strongly told him that I did not particularly want to go, he said "If you don't finish college, you will never amount to anything."  In 1963 I know he thought he was doing right by me because that is what he and most Americans thought in 1963.  But as we discussed, the comment had a very serious consequence upon my subconscious mind; the comment planted a seed or a thought and it was telling me I didn't deserve success because even though I attended college for two years, I never finished; I was drafted.  Yes, I could have returned.  I joined the U. S. Coast Guard and absolutely loved it and made it a twenty year career.  Any desire that remained within me to finish college had long since departed the depths of my mind.

My question in 2016 is where have these Marden books been; there are many of them?  This particular book was written almost 100 years ago and I am only now discovering it; where has it been?  As I read it and other books written by Marden I can't help but wonder at the possibilities of such teachings on today's youth if they were to read them early in their life instead of late in life as I did.  Sadly that is now nothing more than wishful thinking.  The lessons contained therein are in my opinion even more valuable today than when first written in 1911. Some of the numbers Marden uses would not be applicable today but the content of his writings are.  You just have to substitute today’s numbers, such as expenses used incomes earned, and you will see they are still applicable.

Presidential Candidate Dr. Ben Carson said that he and his mother and brother lived in a bad part of Detroit.  But his mother REQUIRED he and his brother both read books and then provide her with written reports of what they each had read EVERY WEEK, no exceptions, no excuses.  He attributes his library card and his mother to his eventual success in life.  

What kind of country would we be living in today if every family had a similar requirement starting when children are old enough to read?

JUST ONE HOUR A DAY.  ONE LESS HOUR OF WATCHING MIND NUMBING TELEVISION; JUST ONE HOUR A DAY COULD MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN YOUR LIFE AND YOUR CHILDREN’S LIVES AND MORE IMPORTANTLY UPON THE WORLD.  Andy Andrews, author, speaker, and all-round great guy said that one action you take could in fact change the world even though you may not know what action that may have been.  It is called The Butterfly Effect.  A butterfly flapping its wings in New York City creates a movement of air that by the time it reaches California could be a strong wind; a wind as strong as the strongest of storms.  If you have never heard Andrews tell the story of Colonel Joshua Chamberlain, you have missed not just a great story but a fabulous life lesson.  Watch part of it on YouTube at: You can read The Butterfly Affect by going to:

Reading fiction is good and is certainly better than not reading at all.  But reading fiction is like watching television, it will not help you further your expertise in the field you have chosen for your career. If someone were to spend just one hour a day, 5 days a week on something that enables them to become better at what they do, by the end of the year they would have spent 260 hours studying.  They would become more professional, they would learn to create better relationships, and/or learn to become a better person but most of all they would become a MASTER at what they do.  Think about it; that would be 260 hours, the equivalent of a college education, studying what should be important to you; your family and your career.

Everyone has regrets in their life and I am no different.  One of the biggest regrets for me is that the lessons learned in just one of Marden’s books and a conversation with Dr. Tom Hill, if taught at an early age, would  have made all the different in the world in my life and probably would have done the same for you.  The book, Pushing to the Front is free as a Kindle version.  Free in this case is PRICELESS!

What my father said to me was in fact true, at least in regard to becoming better educated.  I did not start reading books about the career I had chosen until my early 40’s.  Oh what could I have been had I started as a teenager.  As for college, I simply did not fit.  I did not want to be there in 1963 and while I was there, I was forced to take courses for which I had no interest nor could I see the “big picture” as to why I had to take them.  Had I learned to “read for a specific purpose” instead of just reading because someone told me I had to, my life most likely would have turned out quite differently (not that I had a bad life, that is not the point).

Several years before my retirement from the U. S. Coast Guard, I realized that because of a very bad left knee, my Coast Guard career could end very abruptly at any time as it did in 1985 when I was forced to retire.  Knowing that my career could end, I obtained my real estate license several years BEFORE I had to retire.  Even then, I ONLY did what was necessary but realized that even though I took the required real estate pre-licensing course, I knew nothing about selling real estate. NOTHING!  I fumbled around for about 2 years with not much success until I saw an ad in a magazine for a cassette tape entitled “Creating Teamwork” by Lee Shelton.  I listened to that tape over and over again and I can contribute the contents of that tape to all the success I eventually had in real estate all because of one statement that could have gone unnoticed.  Shelton said, read the book I’m Okay; You’re Okay by Thomas Harris every six months.  I read it more than once but what happened to me was that I obtained a thirst for obtaining knowledge and ultimately wisdom from reading books.  Since the first day I listened to the tapes, I have read well over 1000 books, attended courses too numerous to count whenever I could and then began watching DVDs.  99% of those sources were related to real estate, sales, motivation, and how to think and solve problems.

Please do not read into this any negative thoughts about my Dad.  He was and continues to be my hero.  The one thing that he taught me by his example was to work hard, be honest and always do the best you can at whatever it is you are doing at any given time.  How could anyone go wrong with that advice?

My advice to everyone reading this Nugget is to read books and magazines that will make you better at whatever you have chosen to do with your life.  Start at an early age.  Then encourage others to do the same thing.

We learn our LIFE LESSONS by always reading the fine print; we learn our LIFE EXPERIENCES as I have learned when we don’t.  Learn to read for a specific purpose, always to better yourself!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Open Letter to President Elect Trump

Open Letter to President Elect Trump
By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, November 29, 2016

Dear President Elect Trump,

Being approximately the same age, I know you are aware of the goal established on May 25, 1961 by President Kennedy to land a man on the moon within 10 years.  This decision was a classic education on the value of establishing goals and then mobilizing everyone to help you achieve the goal.  That is exactly what happened when within 10 years America had a successful lunar landing and a safe return to Earth.

I am shocked that Presidents since Kennedy have not attacked seemingly insurmountable objectives and rallied the entire Federal Government, State Governments, Local Governments and more importantly privately owned commercial entities by getting them all on the same page to accomplish a single objective.

For the past 8 years under the Obama Administration, we have seen the establishment of Obamacare much to the consternation of the American public because President Obama rallied ONLY his political team to accomplish the goal rather than getting the entire country including his political adversaries to work on the objective. 

I would respectively request that given the cost of medical care not only in America but also around the world, the Federal Government is in a position to attacked major costs of medical care by attacking the cause of the various medical conditions that drain government and private assets to combat the most serious medical conditions.  According to an Internet search, the following are the “leading causes” of death in America and by inference the leaders in medical costs to fight the causes of death at least in America:

·       Heart disease: 614,348
·       Cancer: 591,699
·       Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 147,101
·       Accidents (unintentional injuries): 136,053
·       Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 133,103
·       Alzheimer's disease: 93,541
·       Diabetes: 76,488
·       Influenza and pneumonia: 55,227
·       Nephritis, nephritic syndrome, and nephritis: 48,146
·       Intentional self-harm (suicide): 42,773

Applying President Kennedy’s goal/objective setting proclamation in 1961 to 2016, I would highly recommend that just like setting a goal to become debt free, we as a country attack the above list from the bottom up.  I am not sure that preventing suicides, as admirable as that goal would be, is the proper place to start.  Having said that, what would happen if you set a goal for all forms of government and private industries to eradicate Nephritis, Nephritic Syndrome and Nephritis with the first two or three years of your administration.  

If everyone tried to eradicate just one disease instead of focusing their collective attention on eradicating many diseases all at the same time, America would realize a much quicker success.  Then just as you would create a plan to eliminate all your personal debt, you apply all of those same resources to the next disease on the list.  Set a goal by which time you want that disease to be eradicated.  Then move on to the next one. Over time many if not all of the diseases affecting America would be eradicated or at least severely limited.  If Americans are saved from disease and the cost of treatment of a disease, the world be also be saved by sharing information.  Once established, I would think that world-wide governments and commercial entities would join in the battle as well.

The important aspect of this plan is that Americans can easily see what the Federal Government’s policies and plans as in respect to eradicating death causing diseases in America and therefore the World.  Get everyone involved to the maximum degree possible and then move on to the next one on the list.  You could easily start at the top or the bottom.  I would suggest that you first get medical people involved in making a list of the most difficult to eradicate to the least difficult and then start with the least difficult first.

I would also encourage you to create a line-item entry on personal income taxes where citizens can check a box and then add money to their income tax submission for the sole purpose of find cures to diseases.  But, for this to work, you MUST establish a lockbox type of arrangement where the money could not be used for other purposes by the Federal Government as it does not with items such as Social Security.
One very visible way to “Make America Great Again” would be to at the same time “Make America Healthier Again.”
All the best.

Jim Brown

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Lost in the Travel Section

By Jim "Gymbeaux" Brown, November 19, 2016

A quick explanation of the Left Brain vs. Right Brain science can be found at: very first paragraph explains it as such:  In general, the left and right hemispheres of our brain process information in different ways. While we have a natural tendency towards one way of thinking, the two sides of our brain work together in our everyday lives. The right brain of the brain focuses on the visual, and processes information in an intuitive and simultaneous way, looking first at the whole picture then the details. The focus of the left brain is verbal, processing information in an analytical and sequential way, looking first at the pieces then putting them together to get the whole

So what!  That is a statement and not a question.  Why should anyone care about how the Left Brain thinks or the Right Brain thinks or how they interact with or against each other?  If there is one thing of which I am certain, EVERYONE should care otherwise either YOU or someone you care about may end up “Lost in the Travel Section” as I have been.

Briefly if you are a Right Brain dominant person, you will be open to very creative ideas.  You will probably create your own creative ideas.  You may play a musical instrument.  You may write a book or a blog.  The best example might have occurred when you were a child and you wanted to paint a tree purple and not necessarily stay within the lines or as a Right Brain child might say to you, “What lines?”

On the other side are the people who are Left Brain dominant.  These are your analytical types, your engineers, technicians, architects, math majors, scientists, and most educators.  As a child not only would the leaves be green and the trunk brown on the same tree being painted, if the child dared to stray outside the lines, he or she would be frantic about how the picture looks.

Here is a “what if” for you to think about.  Let’s assume you are in a negotiation.  The subject of the negotiation doesn’t really matter but whether you consider yourself a Right Brain person or a Left Brain person does matter and could make the difference between successfully completing the negotiation process or not.  If the two or more people involved in the negotiation are all Right Brain dominant or if they are all Left Brain dominant the negotiation will proceed much smoother than if there were opposing sides of the brain at work.   Let’s take it a step further, you are a real estate salesperson and you are a creative Right Brain person.  You describe the home to a potential buyer in glorious and colorful detail.  You are painting a very clear picture of the home, at least in YOUR mind.  The potential buyer however is a total Left Brain buyer.  While you are describing a beautiful room with a vaulted ceiling and gorgeous stone fireplace, the Left Brain buyer is calculating the monthly principle and interest payment and how soon the loan could be paid off.  You are on totally different pages. 

How do you know which side of the brain your opponent is?  You ask a lot of questions.  Then IF you are paying attention and that is a HUGE IF, if you are paying attention you will pick up on the way the other person describes his or her thoughts.  For example, if most of the buyer’s interests seem to be about money, inflation, deflation, or future value, you are definitely talking to a Left Brain dominant buyer.  On the other hand, if the potential buyer is placing furniture, changing the color of the rooms or carpets, the buyer is painting a picture in his or her mind and is definitely a Right Brain dominant buyer.

Are these rules cast in concrete meaning they are scientific fact?  Of course not but it is the scientific basis of a good foundation for improving your communication skills especially between you and a person you only just met.  Try to find out from which side of the brain they do most of their thinking.  One more thought before I give you a personal example of what can happen when you have a conflict between a Right Brain person and a Left Brain person.  Dr. Morris Massey gave one of the most interesting seminars I have ever heard.  You only need to know the title to understand what he had said.  “You are what you are because of what you were when you were ten (years old).”  Do you think it might be possible if you were Ten during the 60’s you might have different values than if you were Ten during the 50’s or even the 40’s.  I can guarantee you that if you were ten during the Great Depression, you would be all consumed with saving money and paying the least for anything you purchased.  So let’s use the real estate salesperson example again.  If you the salesperson were ten in the 80’s and you were selling to a person who was ten in the 50’s, do you think there may be a conflict in personal beliefs and values?  Therefore if you want to make the sale or win the argument, you have to start thinking and speaking like the person you are speaking to, otherwise, you will be forever on different pages. 

Here is my personal example of how a Right Brain dominant person (me) was taught by a Left Brain dominant person and what happened.

I have always loved music.  I took up the clarinet sometime in the mid 50’s.  I ended up playing the clarinet for about 10 years through my high school graduation in 1963 and have never touched it since.  How could that be?  In actuality I have to admit that I was (past tense) pretty good not only on the clarinet but also the bass clarinet and the baritone saxophone.  I was 18 years old when I graduated so I started on the clarinet when I was 7 or 8 years old. 

Enter my problem.  I have always been able to pick up almost any musical instrument and play it by ear.  What does that mean?  I typically didn’t require any instructions on the “how” to play the instrument, I just played what I thought I should hear which was not necessarily on the sheet music and it worked very well for me.  It did not work very well for my musical instructor that my parents were paying for to teach me how to play from sheet music.  I remember on one occasion he gave me some sheet music to play for a recital.  I began playing the piece as I knew it should sound, at least to me.  Obviously it did not sound like he thought it should sound and definitely did not sound like the music on the page; I had added a few notes here and there.  In fact, I never even looked at the notes; I just played the piece as I knew it.  Just like everyone might sing a song they have heard over and over again. 

Why was that a bad thing for me?  Initially I took a disliking for my instructor and that is never a good thing if you expect to learn something.  Secondly, the instructor instead of encouraging me to run with my ability to play, he was seriously discouraging me to the point I no longer wanted to take lessons.  Over time, I lost interest in playing music in general and the clarinet in particular.  At the risk of sounding immodest, while I played in my high school band, the band director would have me fill in on an instrument when one of the band members could not play for whatever reason.  As an example, during one parade, I played the tuba an instrument I had never tried to play before.  He asked me to play the bass clarinet in a clarinet quartet which I did but I had never even seen sheet  music written for any bass instrument before and could not read it if I wanted to.  I played it by ear.  I also played drums, trumpet and even the tympani drums.

I can only wonder what might have happened musically if someone had encouraged me when I was just Ten years old (there is that number again).  The lesson to learn?  Before you discourage anyone from doing anything, you must ask yourself, am I discouraging this person based upon my own perspective and my view of my goals for them or upon their perspective and what THEY want to achieve?  Makes a difference does it not?

Back to the Right Brain vs. Left Brain.  It makes a huge difference in relationships if you don’t know what you are or what the person you are communicating with is, especially children.  When I attended school through the 60’s it was always do as the teacher directed you to do or in other words stay within the lines.  Read only what you are told to read and then God forbid you were ever asked to explain what you thought you had read if your understanding was different than your teacher’s views.  I had no idea what a Right Brain person was back then and I seriously doubt the teachers did either.  It was not their fault.  I can assure you that there were many times when I wanted to do something very differently than the teacher thought about how it should be done.  As a result there were many times I found myself and my teachers (plural) on different pages and it was reflected in my grades.  There were times I thought I was a slow learner.  The teacher would cover a subject and my mind started to take off with something she had said or demonstrated.  She continued with her presentation buy my mind was somewhere out there in space thinking of what she had said 15 minutes ago.  I was not alone.  Looking back it was easy to spot the Right Brain students. 

I once worked for a former college professor, Dr. Tom Hill, who taught Left Brain/Right Brain theory.  He said that my problem (didn’t know I had a problem at the time) was that I was a Right Brain person in a Left Brain world.  In other words, I was lost in the travel section of my mind.  He was right!

My suggestion to you is that you research the Left Brain/Right Brain process and then determine if you might be on different pages than your children.  It could prove beneficial for all concerned if you do; or if you don’t.  That is when all Hell breaks loose and your child or children will eventually become “lost in the travel section of life” as I have been; not a great place to travel.