The Intern To-Do List

Whether you’re looong past your interning days or just about to make your interning debut in the flourishing business ecosystem, it does one good to step back and put yourself in the shoes of an intern: essentially a paid observer, learner, and most importantly value-adder. To get really metaphorical (you’ve probably picked up on this annoying theme throughout my writings), who among us is not an intern in the business of life, where we observe, learn, and add value until we hopefully pass onto something better? Here are ten internship best practices, in my humble opinion:

1. Always say hi to the girl in line next to you. 

Maybe you both have a passion for delicious salads, or maybe you could both go on for hours about your favorite historical sites, but definitely find a way to make a friend out of all those new faces. Everyone will most likely be on the overwhelmed side of nervousness on the first day, so finding an ally in the room can work wonders.

2. Develop birdwatching skills.

The business world is loud, competitive, and busy with started-from-the-bottom-now-I’m-here mentalities. Here’s a way to stand out: be quiet and simply watch (not to be confused with having a glazed-over-I’m-bored sort of expression.) Absorb! Never have I ever regretted paying attention and being observant. Remember names like they’re the words to your favorite song. Watch carefully how people treat each other, since it reveals their true colors every time. And especially, be open and curious to learn about whatever crosses your path.

A great way to exercise intelligence is to gather it first.

3. Never be afraid to speak up and give a compliment.

I’ve had my heaping share of shy days (when I get this itch to drive far away and melt into the background of some obscure diner) but this is a fabulous people-rule that will never let you down. Genuine compliments are (almost) a foolproof way to initiate conversation and plant the seeds of respectful and trusting relationships. People love to feel noticed. In case that’s not enough to spur you to action, just think about how great you feel when on the receiving end of a meaningful compliment. Hello, walking-on-sunshine type of feelings!

4. In general, take care of your team work first and then begin your personal projects.

Pretty soon into the internship, a lot of offers to work on projects both in teams and individually will begin to flow in. In most cases, tackling your portion of the teamwork is a best practice as there are others relying upon you. Don’t be lured by the short-term buzz of flying through personal projects while sacrificing the valuable experience and trust gained by learning to work on a team.

5. Read industry-related articles– and pass them along!

An insight is not an insight until you share it. A mentor just flat-out told me to sent him interesting articles one morning, and it’s definitely been mentally filed under top 3 pieces of professional advice I’ve ever gotten. Not enough people take the time to educate those around them, much less begin a conversation about things that matter. Instead of going for the easy small-talk pieces, engage your coworkers by discussing ideas that really matter to you both.

6. What’s your story?

It’s inevitable that people will be asking you a little bit about yourself, and so being able to tell your story is a paramount ability. I definitely still rehearse mine in the mirror from time to time 🙂 Be concise, show your character, and don’t take yourself too seriously.

7.  You are your best teacher.

Sometimes I really pity those that are on the opposite end, delegating tasks to the interns. While some instruction is obviously necessitated, it’s a huge asset to be able to find the answers yourself. This means know the tools you have at your disposal, which are essentially unlimited given the internet. You are not above YouTube tutorials!

8. Read. And be proud of it. 

My parents brought me up to love this nerdy thing called reading, and not a day has gone by where I haven’t thanked them for sharing that passion. Turns out that the business world is indeed inhabited by adults (for the most part), thus two of the coolest attributes one can have are a love of reading and a natural curiosity for the world around us.

9. Everything about you is a direct reflection on you. 

By now you probably know the power of each little thing when it comes to first impressions, but don’t gradually backslide into laziness each day after. Excellence is a habit. And if you screw up once in awhile– which would only make you human– remember that each day is a new start.

10. Develop a vision that transcends the work week.

Internships are a lot like dating (now that I think about it, so are a lot of things.) It is not enough to only focus on the short-term, rather, allow a long-term vision to be the guiding star in your behavior and it will save you much heartache. Is this a company you’d want to work for permanently? If so, are you being cognizant of the little ways of building rapport, respect, and going the extra mile? If not, how do you want to be remembered?

Here’s to coffee galore & endless opportunities!

Advertisements

Giving From Your Heart (Using Your Head)

The ancient truism, “from those whom much is given, much is expected,” has been taken to heart by many an intelligent individual, but many fail to take advantage of the way that Uncle Sam actually supports this mission– primarily through tax deductions. Turns out, charitable giving can be a great way to make the world a better place while not breaking your bank. Here are just a few ways to maximize your tax benefits from charitable gifts:

  • Check that you’ve donated to an eligible organization. This is the first step when itemizing deductions. TaxACT suggests searching “the IRS’ database of Exempt Organization Select Check at irs.gov. Most religious organizations and government agencies are eligible, even if they’re not listed in the database.”
  • Donate household goods, real estate or stock. Recall that any personal property in good condition, such as clothing, furniture, or other household goods, may be donated and then written off for their fair market value. Even illiquid assets have a place in the world of giving, as you are able to receive an income tax deduction for the fair market value of the gift. Donating stock is a great way to avoid paying capital gains tax due on the appreciation, and you will be able to deduct the fair market value of the stock on the day of the gift.
  • Get a receipt for donations. For cash, this would mean keeping a bank record of the contribution with the name of the charity, date, and amount of the gift. Additionally, if the amount is upwards of $250 then you will need a written acknowledgement from the charity itself. You should follow the same logic for noncash donations, including a description of the items and an appraisal for collectibles.
  • Remember that you can be reimbursed for vehicle expenses. Therefore, consider logging miles when volunteering for a charitable organization. Investopedia notes that you are allowed to claim 14 cents per mile and additionally must obtain a written confirmation from the charity for the volunteer driving.
  • Keep track of your carryforwards. Since donations have ceilings in relation to deductions from your adjusted gross income (AGI) that usually hover at or below 50%, remember that the excess of that can be carried over to apply to next year’s income tax deduction. An article from Investopedia attests that you are able to “carry them forward for up to five years, after which time, they expire and you can no longer use them. If you have carryforwards, track them carefully so that you use them up before expiration, if possible.” For example, if your AGI this year was $50,000 and you gave away $30,000 in cash to a qualifying organization, $25,000 (50% of AGI) may be written off for this year and the extra $5,000 may be carried over into the next five years before it expires.
  • Even attending a fun charity event counts as a tax deduction, for the amount exceeding the fair market value of the event. Moreover, if this charity event happens to have an auction, you may calculate a tax deduction worth the amount above the fair market value for an item that you purchased from the auction. For example, if you won a vacation in the Dominican Republic valued at $7,000 and you paid $10,000, you could itemize a deduction of $3,000.
  • There are many easy tools out there to assist in keeping track of all your good deeds. The Forbes article “4 Steps to Maximize Your Charitable Giving Tax Break” specifically recommends the ItsDeductible App. Others include iDonatedIt and UDoGood.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, not every heartfelt act of charity is tax deductible. Keep in mind that donations to charities that operate under foreign laws or giving time or blood to a blood bank aren’t tax deductible. In conclusion, the best guidelines to follow when giving with your heart as well as your head are to keep track of every item, estimate the value as accurately as possible, and to never underestimate the exponential power of a good act, even in the eyes of Uncle Sam.

Inflation: the Risk of Holding On

Especially trailing the Great Recession, many individuals are tempted to hold onto their savings in the form of cash or cash equivalents in an attempt to preserve their value. There’s no risk in this, right? In reality, this may not be the wisest decision to preserve your wealth, as the average inflation rate has traditionally hovered around 3%. This means that the dollar in your hand will lose 3% of its purchasing power within the next year; you will be able to buy 3% less stuff with your money a year from now. Yet, though it may seem counter-intuitive, this situation is highly preferable to the alternative—deflation—and nicely aligns with the Fed’s goals of stable prices. Investing the majority of your assets where you feel comfortable (whether that be bonds, ETFs, equities, etc.) and especially seeking a financial advisor’s advice is by far your best shot at preserving and growing your wealth.

Why is slight inflation preferable? Inflation is “the rate at which the general level of prices for goods and services is rising, and, subsequently, purchasing power is falling,” as the wonderful Investopedia explains. In order to facilitate this inflation, the Fed exercises an “elastic” currency, meaning that they print money out of thin air (the value of money is not tied down to a gold standard.) Although it may seem counterintuitive, this allows the Fed to rapidly react to changes in the economy and prevent the dollar from deflation, which is the worst case scenario. Deflation, which occurs when there is a shortage of money resulting in an overall fall in prices, is dangerous since it “results in lower prices being forced upon the market which are not the result of normal market forces” (“Why Deflation Is Bad And Inflation Is Good: Monetary Policy 101.”) This is really bad for people looking to borrow money, so essentially all of us if we someday wish to make a big purchase, because lenders will definitely want to hold onto their cash since it will be worth more in the future than it is currently. As you can deduce, deflation spells disaster for interest rates. If inflation goes up, interest rates can go up as well to naturally lower demand for borrowing money and keep the economy from hyper-inflation. But, interest rates are not able to go below 0%, thus deflation, and the economy is stuck in a downward spiral where no one wants to spend, much less loan out, money. To quote the previous article, “once an economy slips into a deflationary spiral, there is little the Fed can do, and that is why they deliberately error on the side of caution and generate a bit of inflation. It is simply an insurance policy against the destructive consequences of deflation.”

How do I beat inflation? Unfortunately, since most bank accounts offer really low interest rates for savings, usually around 1%, holding the primary amount of your wealth in cash means that since it’s not growing past 3% to make up for inflation, it’s shrinking. The Forbes article, “Why It’s A Bad Idea to Keep Your Retirement Savings in Cash,” highlights the reality that “in a sense you’re actually losing money every year. ‘The cost of goods and services goes up every year by about 3% on average, as inflation,” says David Blaylock, a LearnVest certified financial planner™ in Fort Worth, Texas. “If you’re earning 1% on your money in a savings account, you’re arguably losing purchasing power every year due to inflation. Growth isn’t even a possibility.’” To begin handling your assets with greater diligence, a good rule of thumb is to look at keeping about six to nine months of savings liquid in case of emergency. From there, assess your personal risk tolerance and look outward to investing and safeguarding your savings through slowly investing it back into the market where you feel comfortable. Luckily, in our developed society we have access to many great financial resources to guide us in this process, the foremost being a personal wealth advisor.

In conclusion, investing does not have to be a risky gamble embarked upon by the ambitious wealthy, rather it is a great way to safe guard against inflation risk while providing the opportunity to gain additional value on your savings.

Understanding Financial Decisions in Light of Opportunity Cost

“One of the key lessons of the recent financial crisis is the importance of personal financial literacy. Besides improving their personal financial decision making, teaching students economic principles will help them as citizens understand and make choices about many of the critical issues confronting our nation.” –Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve System.

Just like other healthy habits, patterns of smart financial decisions include adopting a new mindset. When it comes to money, this frame of mind comes from looking at each personal financial decision in light of opportunity cost. Opportunity cost is crucial because we value other things besides money, think time and energy, and we must take them into account when we assess a choice. It looks beyond the direct monetary costs in each decision to the indirect costs, what you lose when you chose one alternative over another.

For example, imagine that you are at your favorite restaurant on Friday night and confronted with the decision of which dinner to choose. You’ve had a long week at work and are tempted to choose the $20 steak meal, but you also could be satisfied with a sandwich which costs only $10. Additionally, there is a new movie out that you wanted to see sometime this weekend. If you keep opportunity cost in mind, you are able to assess the choices more clearly, beyond the here and now, since you realize that you would be giving up both the sandwich and the movie for the enjoyment of the steak meal. So the question is: which allocation of resources will make you happier overall?

In the big leagues, opportunity cost becomes an even bigger player when it comes to purchases like a car, house, or college education. You can weigh the pros and cons, stare at your bank account, but a clear understanding of the next best way that you could allocate your money is a necessary thing to grasp. All decisions require sacrifices, and being able to visualize the alternatives to a course of action will serve you well when deciding which sacrifices you are most willing to make.

To conclude, opportunity cost, defined by Investopedia as “the benefits you could have received by taking an alternative action,” is an essential tool to help you make the best use of your money and resources.

The Emerging Market Consumer; Emerging Opportunity

Here is the simple reality: the past 200 years have seen the astounding rise of billions of the world’s population out of abject poverty. But that in itself is not the astonishing thing. The amazing fact is that this has been accomplished not by charitable endeavors, much less by governmental aid programs. What rescued hundreds of millions of people from the direst poverty? Simple, humdrum business.[1]

Zooming in to the present, this is precisely the phenomenon that is sweeping through the emerging market space, also known as the developing world. Specifically in Asia, we observe this to be truer than ever. Due to political, technological, economic, and social forces, 350 million workers in East and Southeast Asia have risen above the poverty line since 2000 and will be looking for ways to heighten their standard of living farther. Over the course of the next decades, the shares of global middle class consumption by China and India are set to escalate drastically, with much of their population surging to break through above the poverty line. This is clearly great news, as it means more families with food in their bellies, roofs over their heads, and income to spare on higher education, hobbies, sports, and the like. The great news for everyone is that wealth creation is not a zero-sum game in the least, and this rising middle class will present exponential opportunities for international businesses and investors as the discretionary income of Asia’s middle class increases.

Profile of the Emerging Market Consumer

“We are reaching a tipping point, where over the next several years the global middle class will expand dramatically. This is one of the most important features of today’s global economic landscape,” as the presentation “The Emerging Middle Class in Developing Countries” emphatically points out in its introduction[2]. This major step in development for a huge portion of the world’s population will begin a ripple effect of opportunity for the people themselves, local and global businesses, and investors across the world. There is a myriad of reasons that a strengthening middle class is the real key to sustainable growth for every economy, all deriving from two defining behaviors: the vigorous accumulation of capital, both physical and human, and the heightened demand for quality. Historical trends show us that this hunger for physical and human capital paired with added discretionary income will manifest itself in rising demand for household goods and services, housing, healthcare, and higher education while the accompanying demand for quality will lead to brand differentiation in consumer products, specialization across industries, and an amplified interest in social issues, environmental reform, and health concerns.

Emerging Opportunity for Investors

Who will benefit from this trend? One can easily predict this by entering the mind of the typical middle class consumer. In the emerging economies, it is reasonable to expect the discretionary spending to be targeted towards:

  • Global or local providers of goods and services that are consistent with the consumption patterns that accompany rising income levels, i.e. value branding, luxury goods, cars, etc.
  • Companies that provide the infrastructure to support this new growth, i.e. quality housing, roads, parks, etc.
  • Firms that will supply and innovate technology to cater to consumer preferences
  • Institutions for higher education
  • The tourism industry
  • Companies that distinguish themselves as being environmentally friendly and/or cater to an increased awareness of health concerns

This global trend extends promising invitations to investors of all philosophies—growth, value, fundamentals, technical, contrarian, and impact alike—to participate in the market. The timing of increased demand for these goods and services will be crucial to keep a diligent eye on. For emerging economies, consumer spending will not merely follow a linear pattern. The consumption of products will rapidly accelerate at the key moment when the majority of a country’s population can afford that consumer product.[3] On the investing side of this critical economic actor that we label “the emerging markets middle class consumer,” there are countless opportunities that present themselves given the individual investors preferences, risk tolerance, and passions.

Concerns

While an optimistic picture has been painted thus far, investors must be careful not to be over-romanced by the excitement of emerging market opportunities. It also pays to be aware of the risks that accompany such a shift in the global landscape, as with all human progress, instability is a part of the bargain. One of the foremost points of concern lies with the distinction between sustainable and unsustainable growth. Legislation protecting personal property, access to capital, and respect for human rights are all cornerstones of sustainable, real growth, which is the only path that will generate sustainable, real return for the investor. Another concern is a rise in protectionism, since some nations tremor at increase in competition and may foolishly react with increased tariffs or subsidies, thus slowing or even reversing growth in global trade.

Consensus

The rising global middle class consumer is an undeniable phenomenon and it is an excellent idea for investors to recognize that trend and look at how they can participate in the emerging marketspace, based on companies providing goods and services that cater to individuals who fall above the middle class income threshold.

[1] Rev. Robert Sirico, Defending the Free Market (Washington D.C.: Regnery Publishing, 2012), 48.

[2] Kharas, Homri, “The Emerging Middle Class in Developing Countries,” Development Centre Working Paper No. 285, O ECD, 2010.

[3] “Long-term Investing for Wealth Expansion: The Rising Global Middle Class” Ascent Private Capital Management, https://ascent.usbank.com/acp/pdfs/wealth_impact_planning/Ascent-Rising-Global-Middle-Class.pdf

Breaking Down Monetary vs. Fiscal Policy

An all-to-often overlooked way that people can affect their financial wellbeing is through their vote. One of the cornerstone concepts to grasp about the Great American Experiment is the distinction between fiscal and monetary policy and the fundamental role that each has in shaping our economy. Having a handle on the big picture, jargon, and responsibility of each will assuredly make you not only a better citizen but a better custodian of your personal wealth, which operates by the careful mechanisms of monetary and financial policy.

Monetary Policy

Our monetary policy is the job of the Federal Reserve. In fact, Congress has mandated that the power to direct our monetary policy be free from political influences, for obvious reasons. Therefore, beyond the congressionally decreed goals of “maximum employment and price stability as the macroeconomic objectives for the Federal Reserve,” the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) employs their policy tools independently to achieve those ends (federalreserve.gov). A taste of the tools that the FOMC has at their disposal is the reserve requirement, the discount rate, and open market operations:

  • Reserve requirement: defined by the Federal Reserve as “the amount of funds that a depository institution must hold in reserve against specified deposit liabilities.” In lay people’s terms, this is just measure to regulate the amount of cash a bank can lend out to control the amount of cash available in the economy.
  • Discount rate: defined by Investopedia as “the interest rate charged to commercial banks and other depository institutions for loans received from the Federal Reserve Bank’s discount window.”
  • Open market operations: defined by the Federal Reserve as “the purchase and sale of securities in the open market by a central bank…to adjust the supply of reserve balances so as to keep the federal funds rate around the target federal funds rate established by the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC).” The federal funds rate is the technical base rate behind the interest rates, or cost of borrowing money, in our economy.

The goal of price stability is achieved through controlling interest rates by means of these various tools and traditionally they pursue a target of a slight inflation rate of 3%. As you may be aware, the Fed generally pinpoints maximum employment at the “natural unemployment rate” of about 5%, to allow for frictional and structural unemployment, both of which are healthy in the cycle of job searching.

Fiscal Policy

Our fiscal policy exists in the realm of Congress, and refers to the manner in which they implement specific legislation in order to influence the U.S. economy. Their legislative powers fall into two huge categories: revenue collection (taxes) and spending. With every action taken, whether it is the purchase of goods and services, collection of taxes, or transfer payments, Congress attempts to reallocate resources within the economy to their highest valued use to society as a whole. This is crucial because while our free market economy is generally good at efficiently allocating resources to their highest valued uses, we naturally have other concerns such as equality and positive or negative externalities that are not taken into account by the market price of a good or service.

Fiscal policy is characterized as tight (or contractionary) when the revenues exceed the spending and the budget is in surplus, and loose (or expansionary) when the spending exceeds the revenues causing a budget deficit. In layman’s terms, tight fiscal policy is when the government will increase taxes and/or reduce spending, causing the budget deficit to shrink with the extra revenue. A loose fiscal policy will be designed to cut taxes and/or increase spending and usually causes the budget deficit to grow. The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics further clarifies that, “the focus is not on the level of the deficit, but on the change in the deficit.” Overall, fiscal policy is crucial for successful stabilization of the economy, as it has the power to affect aggregate demand, or raising the demand for goods and services since the government becomes a buyer in the markets.

Their Relationship

Clearly, both are extensively interrelated and rely upon each other to provide the framework for our economy, where the American Dream continues to true in each generation. The Federal Reserve’s webpage reminds that, “the FOMC considers how the current and projected paths for fiscal policy might affect key macroeconomic variables such as gross domestic product growth, employment, and inflation. In this way, fiscal policy has an indirect effect on the conduct of monetary policy through its influence on the aggregate economy and the economic outlook.” Jointly, Congress and the fiscal policies which it imparts are directly influenced by the interest rates and such that the Fed controls.

Conclusion

Since the average citizen has a low incentive to become sufficiently educated on such topics, this quick reference ought to be useful in making it easier for our vote to more faithfully represent our actual desires. It is important to understand both fiscal and monetary policy since each has not only direct but unintended consequences on the financial wellbeing of ourselves and those we love. Though our political voice can only affect our representatives whose legislation makes up fiscal policy, understanding monetary and fiscal policy, which are essentially the rules that we play by in our economy, will only bring greater clarity and order to our financial decisions.

Happy Birthday, USA!

My family has a wonderful birthday tradition where we take turns going around the dinner table to speak about why we are thankful for the birthday boy/girl. Today, it looks like it’s my turn to talk about America.

There is a reason that I sit here today in front of my laptop, trying to scribble this out. There is a reason that the stretches of highways are populated with more families than usual today, trying to gather in celebration. There is a reason that so many people want to uproot and move to the United States, trying to forge a better life for their young children. There is a reason that we all can go on a drive and pass cheerful Little League games, mirror-like corporate office buildings, fresh farm stands selling sweet corn, vibrant art museums, libraries, malls, concert venues, hiking paths…the list goes on, trying to figure out how we ought to pursue happiness. There is a reason that, over the ages, countless men and women have looked death in the face and decided that yes, this is a sacrifice I will make, trying to protect my country. That reason is so colossal, so historical, and so profound that no words exist to fully grasp it’s essence. I’m stuck with the next-best option:

America is great.

She was built upon the firm foundation of God-given values, she is served and preserved for posterity by her faithful children, and she joins states, peoples, and families to become better in unity. America is not perfect, but greatness commands both respect and love. It can (and should) be a tough love sometimes, like when we speak up to caution her against something that we believe is not good for her. Or when we look at her actions and have the humility to say, hey, that was a mistake. But such an opinion is secondary, it flows from our hearts that beat knowing that America has done more for us than we could ever hope to repay. And for that we are truly grateful. As her happy children we will do our duty to repay, to preserve, and better her with each coming day. Happy birthday, USA!

Little brother Sam stole my outfit ;)
Little brother Sam stole my outfit 😉

Leadership is a Choice

“The majority prove their worth by keeping busy. A busy life is the nearest thing to a purposeful life.”

―Eric Hoffer

Never foregoing an opportunity to partially quench my burning curiosity for this world that we live in, I passed the three hour sojourn to Omaha this weekend to the pleasant chatter of the “Smart Women, Smart Power” podcast. But before I dig in, let me take a moment to savor the fact that I can sit in this darling cafe at the end of a hectic work day, spearmint-lavender tea in hand, and write my thoughts down. I enjoy a remarkable amount of control over my life right now, and for that I am grateful. This post will be focused on those who have leveraged the things they have control over in order to create a life that is busy with purpose. Though the lectures were refreshingly spaced by yours truly with her favorite country tunes and the occasional Sound of Music melody, I managed to complete the series this weekend and have listed below my favorites, accompanied by a handful of takeaways. Enjoy!

Carly Fiorina – A Candid Conversation

“Leadership is a choice,” an excerpt that I borrowed for my title, stuck with me the most from this podcast. Funny how many things–leadership,  courage, happiness, love– come down to a choice, a choice that we are presented with every fresh minute. Now whether you are ready to cast your vote for her or would laugh at the prospect, it is tough not to admire Carly’s conviction and courage. I would argue that our society is water-logged in a pitiful sea of lukewarmness, an aversion towards caring too much or being too informed, that can only be remedied by people who ignite a trend of educating themselves and others on topics they hold dear.

Combating Islamic Extremism

This is a scary, revulsive topic– which is exactly why it ought to be addressed. Not only does the point of parental responsibility need to be made more often, but we all have something to learn from these youth whose strive for purpose, something worth dying for, allows them to be seduced by such cruel destruction. Awareness of our priceless identity as human beings must be remembered and nurtured above all else, since that is the light by which the world and our mission in it are illuminated.

Mobile Money – Foreign Aid Disrupter?

I can’t quite put my finger on how development aid through emerging technology became such a passion of mine, but it certainly has made its home in my heart. I love this podcast for the incredibly specific examples, clarity of economic reasoning, and overall exciting prospect that it proposes. Now, who’s visiting Africa with me?


To conclude, it’s really about being custodians of our own backyards. And if we happen to have had backyards all over the world, then that privilege just makes our duty that much broader. The good news is that what the world needs already lies within us. uinfluence

4 Business Lessons From Papa Jace

Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.

~St. Francis of Assisi

Maybe it’s because I miss playing hooky to walk and talk around the park, or perhaps it’s because I have no one to grill or make pancakes for me on demand here in Kansas City, but I miss my dad (the tiniest bit.) Bad jokes, overprotectiveness, lectures, annoying exuberance and all. How good it was these past two weeks to wake up (more like be jolted awake by all the Jace clan morning chaos) in my own bed! Those precious free weeks prior to my current internship were refreshing and put to good use. For ages now, I had been meaning to effectively summarize and articulate the lessons concerning business that I was taught by my biggest role model, and considering that the internship season of my life is in full bloom, there is no better time than this Thursday summer night. Not to mention that studying investment philosophies can only entertain a young girl for so long.

And something well worth noting: these little nuggets of wisdom were spoken out loud about 1% of the time and simply lived out the other 99%.

  1. Go the extra mile. No doubt that every individual would jot this down under their “good advice” mental note-to-self, but fewer have had the luxury of watching an example of this commendable habit throughout their entire life. In seizing the early hours of the morning to workout and cook breakfast for us kids, in driving hours upon hours for a family weekend at the cabin and still having the grit to mow the lawn and clean the house once we arrive, in red-eye flights to be my date for the Red Dress Gala, in forcing us to go to the art museum when all we want to do is lounge through our Sunday, and in the way you paid close attention to the items needed to make our new house a home, you give 100% to every person and situation. In the business world, we all want to work with true partners: the kind of people who know how to get excited about their work, the kind who will have burst of genius in the line at the grocery store because they didn’t just shut off their brains after a long day of work, the ones who stare life straight in the eyes and engage with each new adventure, situation and person to the best of their God-given ability. You engage. It is that very spirit that spurs you through the extra miles upon miles and inspires me to do likewise, personally as well as professionally.
  1. Grin and bear it. Sometimes, even those ordinary miles will hurt. You always forced me to follow through on my commitments, no matter if they had turned out to be painful mistakes (way too often.) Well kids, you’re learning an important lesson. There will be days, oh so many of them, when the only thing tiding you over is that cup of coffee (did someone say Redbull?) you’re clutching with your weary hands. I think that’s actually a good sign, and I know that I saw you power through many of these times with a big smile still on your face. Hard work is crucial, but it is hardly laudable without cheerfulness. To retain one’s optimism while relentlessly attack the tasks of the day, now that is rare. Somehow, you figured out the real art of laughing and learning from your failures and inspire me to do likewise, personally as well as professionally.
  2. The beauty of art, classical music, and nature is important. Sure these luxuries are nice, but how does this make you a better businessperson? Turns out the whole business side takes care of itself when you simply focus on becoming a better person from the start. Not only is beauty enchanting, but it has the joint power of motivating us to make something more beautiful out of the piece of work we call ourselves. There is an unmistakable challenge, a reawakening of our nursery curiosity, effusing from a work like Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake or a dazzling sunset in Assisi. It may not seem like the most direct way, but learning to appreciate art, music and nature is a skill that will enhance any social circle and remind you to gaze upon the exquisiteness of this world with grateful eyes– even and especially in the office. The way that you and mom sacrificed so much time and effort to expose us to the majesty of man and nature, whether found in our local parks or in France, speaks to the fact that you find value in permitting yourself to be moved and elevated by our surroundings and inspires me to do the same, personally as well as professionally.
  3. Your life is not your own. By extension, neither are your successes, failures, trials and tribulations. And that is a very freeing thing. It is clear that there is a real atmosphere of ownership–of a strong individualistic focus– infused in the American business ecosystem today. To a certain extent, that is it’s biggest strength. Yet when we focus solely on ourselves and forget that, for better or worse, we are heirs to a family, organization, community, and nation larger than ourselves, our perception goes awry. In fact, there is a massive body of research that points to the fact that when we remember that we belong to each other, we are happier. There is this concept of the servant leader that comes to light time and time again in the business world, and I always think of you. You allow yourself to be humbled by the bigger mission and inspire me to do the same, both personally and professionally.
And on that note, happy early Fathers Day from your favorite child!
And on that note, happy early Fathers Day from your favorite child!