Wednesday, April 29, 2015


It’s hard to believe that it’s that time of the year again. I’m talking about graduation time. Over the next month you will hear and read a lot of fantastic graduation speeches. Well, my son is graduating from the University of Michigan this Saturday, and this is my commencement address to him.

Charles, I am very proud of you. I know that I put a lot of pressure on you as well as your sisters to attend Michigan and I hope it was as great an experience as I told you it would be. You have taken some wonderful classes from inspiring professors. Unfortunately, Michigan football was not Michigan football during your four years, but I will never forget how excited you were after defeating Notre Dame your freshman year.  On the flip side, you experienced an incredible run by our basketball team your sophomore year and watched one of the true gentlemen of college sports, John Beilein.  You have made incredible friends who will be with you for life. I am truly in awe of the relationships you have forged over the past four years.

As you are about to enter the next chapter of your life, I want to offer the following advice:

Be kind. It is so much easier to go through life with a smile and compassion in your heart. There is no room for nastiness or selfishness in this world, so please be kind and considerate of others.

Be engaged. Be aware of everything that is going around you. Remember, life is what happens while you are busy making other plans. You must truly live in the moment.

Keep it simple. It really helps.

Eat well. There is so much bad food in the world and by that I mean food that is actually bad for you. Stay active, your body is a temple – treat it that way.

Be passionate .Whatever you believe in, be fully invested.

Trust your gut. Your inner compass will always guide you.

Be aware of easy money and scams. If something seems to be good to be true, it probably is.  

Stay humble and appreciate what you have, not what you don’t.

Don’t watch the television news. It’s not news and it only serves to scare you and make you anxious.

Surround yourself with positive people.

Live within your means. If you spend more than you earn, it will lead to problems.

Save your money but don’t deprive yourself of joy.

Invest in yourself. Nothing is more rewarding than betting on you.

Appreciate good luck.

Never get too high or too low.

Only dead fish go with the flow.

Don’t worry if you don’t know what’s next. You’re not supposed to. Life is not a sprint, it’s a journey. Savor this next chapter. It will be hard at times but it will also be really exciting. You’ll figure it out. Words cannot express how proud I am and how much I love you. I am so excited for you and what you and your friends will do. Congratulations and Go Blue.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Early Bird

Sorry folks, I have been off the grid for a while. I was in England and Scotland with my wife, mother-in-law, youngest daughter, and her friend for a week. It was a great trip; I highly recommend Scotland, an incredibly beautiful country where the single malt runs free. I am not a golfer but I did have the opportunity to see the Old Course at St. Andrews, which was incredible. The beaches surrounding the town, specifically the 18th hole, are breathtaking. I was told the training scenes for Chariots of Fire were filmed there; see the below picture of my youngest daughter, Mina, and her friend on the beach. Cue the music.

The problem with vacations is you have to come back to work. I returned just before the April 15th tax deadline and was bombarded with last minute tax planning issues. No matter how much advance warning you give, most of us tend to wait until the last minute take action.

It doesn’t take any more effort to plan and prepare early then it does to wait until the last minute. Actually, one could make the argument that it takes less time since you aren’t rushed or stressed out. Here are four things you can do before April 15th, 2016 right now:

·         Make your IRA contribution for 2015. You can contribute $5,500 this year and if you are over 50, you can contribute an additional $1,000;

·         Have your accountant estimate your 2105 SEP IRA contribution and begin contributing during the course of the year;

·         Fund your 529 accounts during the course of the year;

·         Consider establishing a Donor Advised Fund for your charitable and philanthropic giving.

 So why do we wait until the last minute? Is it the thrill of pushing the envelope to the edge? Or are we are just too busy? For most of us, we are always busy, so why not take care of something sooner, rather than later?

I think the problem is inertia. It is easier to postpone than take action. What if we were to complete something when presented to us immediately, instead of waiting? A friend of my wife’s has a system in which she completes a task whenever it is presented to her. If she gets an invitation to an event, she sends the RSVP right away. A client needs a new proposal? She does it immediately. I tried implementing this in my life and it truly works. If you don’t believe me, try it for a week. Don’t jot down another thing in your to do list or flag an email as a future task. Knock it out now! The stress of tasks lining up like planes waiting to take off at LaGuardia will evaporate and you’ll have one less thing to worry about.