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June 29-July 3, 2020 



a look back at this week’s essays…


Investment Real Estate Outlook for the Rest of 2020 and Beyond 


I am concerned – very concerned – for two reasons…


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Found Poem: In the Basement of OK Cigars 


I’ve been writing poems for years. Hundreds and hundreds of them. A small percentage get into print. And most of those, when I reread them after a year or two, are disappointing.


This one was not. I like it as much now as when I wrote it…


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I’m Positive 


I’ve written at least a half-dozen essays on the coronavirus and COVID-19 since the beginning of April…


On Wednesday, I found out that I was positive.


Click here to read more.




quick quiz 


  1. How much do you remember about this week’s “Words to the Wise”? Use each of these words in a sentence: 


*  hospitality (6/29/20)

*  fugacious (7/1/20)

*  portentous (7/3/20)


  1. Fill in the blanks in this week’s quotations: 


* “The most reliable way to forecast the future is to try to understand _____.” – John Naisbitt (6/29/20)


* “_____ is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.” – Robert Frost (7/1/20)


* “Accept the terrible _____ of life with eyes wide open.” – Jordan Peterson



  1. Are these statements True or False? 


* Pierre Boulle, author of The Bridge Over the River Kwai, was held in captivity by the Japanese during WWII. (6/29/20)


*  According to the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics, one-third of jobs in the US can be done at home. (7/1/20)


*  The US isn’t the only country to celebrate the 4th of July. America’s Independence Day is also celebrated in Britain, Portugal, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Ireland, China, and Australia. (7/3/20)




recommended links from this week’s blog 


* An amazing display of beauty, strength, flexibility, and grace…Here


* The latest issue of Independent HealingWhat medical care is safe during the pandemic? Click here to read the July issue.


* Good advice from the FTC on shopping online…Here


 * If you like language you will love this guy… Here






Your Question:


I’ve been reading a lot about entrepreneurship lately, including lots of your essays and a few of your books. I’d love to have a business of my own, but I have family to support and I’m working full-time just to make ends meet. I have zero savings, and student loans to pay. I’m not in a position to make any risky moves. People that I love and feel responsible for depend on me. What can I do?

– J.P.


My Answer: 


I hear you. I was in very much the same situation in 1982 when I took a new job as managing editor of a start-up publishing company in Florida. I had, like you, zero savings, and a family to support.


There are several things I could suggest – things that involve working 20 to 40 hours a week on the side, earning extra income and learning about entrepreneurship. But that’s not what I did back then. So I’ll tell you what I did. I put off my plans to be an entrepreneur and worked like mad to become the next best thing – an intrapreneur employee working for a growing company.


I define an intrapreneur as an employee that makes himself financially invaluable to the company – so much so that he earns his way into a profit-sharing compensation plan.


Back then, as I said, I was working as an editor. I was making $35,000 a year, which was enough to pay the bills and as much as I was worth to the company. I couldn’t ask for more money for doing the work I was doing because my boss could have said “No thanks” and hired another managing editor at the same salary.


Instead, I decided to become the most important employee my boss had, which meant that I spent evenings and weekends learning the marketing game and writing advertising copy. When my first promotion was mailed and brought in a million dollars, my boss took me aside and said, “Keep that up and I’ll cut you into the business.”


Years later, after failing to retire for the first time, I took a consulting position with the business I work with now. The job I asked for was to help grow sales and profits. I accepted a modest monthly fee for working 60 to 80 hours a week. But I also got a modest percentage of profits.


That was pretty fair money as sales edged up from $8 million to $24 million to $50 million and then to $100 million. Today, profits are more than 10 times greater than they were back then.


That’s what I did. It worked out for me. If it feels like a direction you’d like to go in, the key is to work for a fair-minded boss in a fast-growing company.


Have a question for me? Submit it on our Contact Us page. 




For a look back at the stock market, click here. 

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What I Learned About Love 

Once a month, I spend an hour talking to BK about success in life and business.

He usually begins the conversation with a question about some business-related issue he’s been thinking about. It’s always a good, nuanced question that sparks the ensuing discussion. In our first few sessions, he did most of the asking and I was the guy with the answers.

During our most recent phone call, we touched on many topics – including the history of The Agora and my newly baked theory on how ingrained personality traits determine the potential and contributions of individual employees. And then somehow – I can’t remember how it happened – the conversation turned to love. Or rather the expression of love.

BK mentioned a book I had not read called The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Gary Chapman.

I am habitually suspicious of popular books on marital relationships. Most of them are simplistic or downright idiotic. So I braced myself to be disappointed.

BK summarized the book’s argument thusly:

Loving someone and making them feel loved are two different things. To make someone feel loved, you must understand the sort of thing that feels like love to him/her. Generally speaking, there are five ways to demonstrate that:

Words of Affirmation– Using words to build up the other person. “Thanks for taking out the garbage.” Not – “It’s about time you took out the garbage. The flies were going to carry it out for you.”

  1. Gifts – A gift says, “He was thinking about me. Look what he got for me.”
  2. Acts of Service– Doing something for your spouse that you know he/she would like. Cooking a meal, washing dishes, vacuuming floors are all acts of service.
  3. Quality Time– Which means giving your spouse your undivided attention. Taking a walk together or sitting on the couch with the TV off. Talking and listening.
  4. Physical Touch– Holding hands, hugging, kissing, sexual intercourse are all physical expressions of love.

Of these five, Chapman posits, everyone has a primary love language that speaks more deeply to him/her than all the others. Discovering each other’s language and speaking it regularly is the best way for two people to keep love alive.

My immediate response to this: “This is silly.” But then BK asked, “Which one do you respond to? Which one feels most like love?”

And that sort of shocked me. Because there was an answer – a definite answer – and it came to me directly from the deepest part of my emotional brain.

“I respond to Words of Affirmation,” I said.

“And what about K?” he asked.

I knew the answer to that, too. I knew in some very clear and certain way that K’s answer would be “Acts of Service.”

I thanked BK for the insight. I admitted I’d never even thought about the possibility that feeling loved is different for different people. I actually felt embarrassed, because I’ve spent a fair amount of my thinking life on the subject of love and this was completely new to me.

I thought about the ways I express love to K, and they covered the range except for one: Acts of Service. And I thought about the ways K shows her love to me. Service is a big part of it, but she’s frugal in the Affirmation department.

So that was something else to think about – the fact that we are each parsimonious with the one thing we want for ourselves. And is that an ironic accident or a subconscious decision?

I should pause here to say that if all this sounds only too obvious to you, you will understand how I felt. Here I was, a year away from my 70th birthday, learning something I should have learned in high school.

I tested the Five Love Languages hypothesis the next morning by doing something for K that I wouldn’t normally have done. It was a small action. A modest gesture. And sure enough, she was taken by it. She even mentioned it later to her sister in front of me.

“Gee,” I thought. “This is powerful! I ‘ve got to do more of it more often.”

But… and this is a big “but.” If you think about the complexities of any relationship – parent/child, husband/wife, brother/sister, and friendships – you can readily see that keeping the relationship balanced and healthy requires more than simply making the other person feel loved. Other skills are involved. You have to know how to stand up for yourself. You have to know how to have a civil disagreement and how to compromise.

So, yes, I am going to practice this new skill because I want K to feel loved. But I’m also going to practice the other relationship skills because… well, because love is complicated.

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One Thing & Another

Notes From My Journal: “Scientific Method” and the Ongoing Pursuit of Knowledge

Much of my reading lately has hit upon science. In particular, the controversy about whether the scientific method is the most reliable way to ascertain what’s true and what seems to be true.

“Scientific method” is a term that was coined in the 17thcentury. It refers to a systematic procedure – based on observation and testing – that researchers use to try to understand/explain the mysteries of the natural world.

The method is pretty simple. You come up with a theory about an observed phenomenon. Then you test that theory as precisely as you can. That’s where some misunderstanding occurs.

When you are testing the results of two direct mail campaigns, you must ensure that you are testing only one variable. You don’t, for example, test both price and headline at the same time.

When humans are involved, which is the case with most social and health studies, the test must also be double-blind. Double-blind means that neither the tester nor the testee can know which of the sample groups is the control group and which is the test group. The ancient Greeks were good at the first part of the scientific method: coming up with guesses about why things are the way they are. But they never subjected their theories to experiment. The Muslims, from what I’ve read, were the first to do that.A theory that is proven is not proven for all time. It is simply accepted as true until some further testing finds it incorrect or inadequate. Still, you have to go with what you have. You can’t ignore or deny the existence of carbon dating and fossils simply because they don’t fit into your theory.


Today’s Word: bloviate (verb)

To bloviate (BLOW-vee-ate) is to speak or write in a longwinded, empty, pompous way. As used by former U.S. Representative Barney Frank: “I think there is too much bloviating around by politicians.” (He needn’t have said “around.”)


From My “Work-in-Progress” Basket

Sometimes It’s Smart to Shoot for Second Place

It may sometimes seem like I’m always pushing my readers in the direction of becoming No.1 –  of being your own boss and having your own business. And I won’t deny that I spend a lot of time talking about the advantages of entrepreneurship and equity.

But some people are better off in the No.2 position. Some people will have more success, make more money, achieve more, and more fully enjoy their life’s work if there is someone else to whom they feel responsible.

I sometimes believe I am one of those people. I notice that when I negotiate for myself, I’m a pushover. But when I do so on the part of a senior partner or group of people, I tend to be much more aggressive.

When it’s solely my interests at stake, I tend to relax. I have the feeling that I don’t need the best deal, that I can always find another, and so I’m happy to settle. But when I’m representing others, I feel an additional responsibility to get the deal they will like.

It’s an admission I don’t make readily. I’d rather think of myself as more alpha, as the No.1 dog in the junkyard. But if I look back at my business career, I have to recognize that my greatest accomplishments have come out of relationships in which I was No.2.

That’s not to say I was ever comfortable down the food chain of power.  I was never able to spend much more than a few months at a job before I started moving up and taking over.  I was simply unwilling to play a modest role. From day one, I was trying to cut myself in on the action. This impulse was no doubt the driving force in my career.

I presume you have a driving force, too – and your impulse may feel like the need to be on the very top. If so, that’s fine. But if you tend to be more like me, your path may be slightly different.

It is important to understand the difference. Because if you are a No.1 kind of person, you will be unhappy and eventually fail as a second banana. And if you are a No.2 kind of person, you may fail if you try to go out on your own.

The story of Pat Farrah illustrates the point.

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The 60-Second Self-Improvement Solution

 Because I am so much less than I’d like to be, self-improvement is always on my mind.

I want to be become a better writer. I want to be a better husband and father and friend. I want to be better at speaking Spanish and playing the French horn. I’d like to continue to improve my Jiu Jitsu. In fact, I want to be better at just about everything I do.

Except golf. I’ve happily given up trying to improve my golf game.

Admittedly, I get a shitload of things done every day. Way more things than I ever imagined I could do before I developed the time-management system I now use. But I am still bound by that cursed 24-hour limit to each day.

And so, despite my best efforts, I’ve had to accept the fact that I will never have the time I need to get better at everything.

Until recently, that is, when I came up with my “60-second solution” to the problem.

Let me take yoga, as an example. Because I spend 4 or 5 hours every week wrestling, my body needs a contra-exercise to stretch me out and open me up. Yoga is the thing. Ideally, I’d spend 30 minutes doing yoga for every hour I spend with Jiu Jitsu. I don’t have time for that. But I do have time to spend a minute or two practicing yoga every day. So that’s what I’ve been doing. And though my mini yoga sessions are hardly equal to what I could do in half an hour, they are far better – physically and mentally – than doing nothing at all.

Meditation is another example. I know from experience that it is very good for me. It calms me down and puts me in a better, more productive mood. There is no doubt I’d get ideal results if I meditated for 20 or 30 or even 60 minutes a day. But my schedule doesn’t allow it. Instead, I’ve begun meditating for just 3 to 5 minutes. I do it first thing in the morning before I even get out of bed. And I do it whenever I feel stressed and almost always before I go to sleep.

These micro-meditations are less powerful, of course. But they still work! In fact, I was pleased to find that there are several apps out there that allow you to adjust the timing of a guided meditation to whatever you like. Some days, I do 10 minutes. Some days, I do 5 or even 3. I know more is better – but some, I’ve found, is better than none. (By the way, I’ve tried a dozen apps. The one I prefer is probably the best known: Headspace. I love that guy’s voice!)

I apply the same strategy to working out. My standard workout is very vigorous and takes about an hour. My current schedule allows me to do it twice a week, which is really (at my age) all that my body needs. But when I’m traveling or when I miss a workout, I can do a micro-workout. I have two versions. The 1-minute version consists of 25 pushups and 25 Hindu squats. The 2-minute version adds 30 seconds of abs and 30 seconds of back/biceps.

A minute or two of hard exercise can’t compare to my standard workout. But when I can’t do that, these micro-workouts are very helpful in maintaining my fitness.

My morning routine these days consists of four micro-exercises.

First, after waking up, I sit on the side of my bed and meditate. I do it for as long as it feels comfortable. Although my objective is only a minute or two, I typically do it for at least 5 minutes.

Then, after showering, I do a micro-workout and then a micro-yoga session. And while brushing my hair, I do a micro-smiling session. (Smiling isn’t something I am very good at. Forcing myself to grin in front of the mirror each morning boosts my mood.)

These micro-exercises take such a ridiculously short amount of time that they pose no psychological threat to me. I never feel, as I often do with more ambitious self-improvement exercises, that I don’t have the energy or the time.

I’ve been doing them for a while now and I can tell you honestly that (a) I have never missed a day, and (b) it feels great knowing that I’m doing these things that I was hoping but failing to do in the past.

And now I’m asking myself: What other neglected self-improvement goals can I reduce to micro-exercises?

How about singing? I can certainly find a minute or two every day to practice the scales.

I can do the same with languages. There are dozens of apps that I can use to improve my vocabulary or grammar in just a few minutes a day.

I know, already, that this is going to be fun.


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