Notes From My Journal: The Soothing Power of Making Music

About 55 years ago, I won second place in a solo contest for the French horn. I played a tune called Mighty Major. I got back into it about five years ago and then dropped it. I’m back into it again… and I’m wondering why I stopped. It is thoroughly enjoyable. It may be the only thing that gets me completely away from my head. I’ve been trying to achieve a bit more equilibrium in my life through meditation. But it’s hard for me. Playing this difficult brass instrument is faster and, at least for the time being, more satisfying. I am fully absorbed while doing it, and calm and happy with myself when I’m done.

It’s interesting…


Today’s Word: lagniappe (noun)

Lagniappe (LAN-yap or lan-YAP) is a small gift given by a merchant to a customer who makes a purchase. It may also refer to a bonus or unexpected benefit. As used by the freelance travel writer Jill Schensul in an article in The Record: “Lagniappe – the unexpected surprises, the extras – are one of the reasons I love New Orleans…. I live, and travel, for the unexpected surprise. I may get lost, but there’s usually an unexpected treat in that unplanned detour.”


Interesting Fact

55.1% of all US prisoners are incarcerated for drug offenses.


From My “Work-in-Progress” Basket: An Unavoidable Hazard of Success

If you’re smart, hardworking and persistent, you’ve got what it takes to be successful at any career you choose. But as you climb the ladder, you’re likely to face a problem they don’t talk about in business schools: too many attractive opportunities.

For 90+% of the population, this is a problem that will never arise. But you – you are in the top 10%. And the farther you travel down the road of success, the more opportunities will come your way.

I’ve heard this complaint from good people I’ve mentored for years. Just recently, GR, an up-and-coming copywriter, put it this way:

As one becomes successful, it seems more and more opportunities present themselves. It’s tempting to want to go after every single one of them.

    So how do you spot the opportunities that are right for you? 

Or, how do you decide which ones to say “no” to and which ones to place your bets on?

Here’s a quick answer, the answer I gave to him…

I don’t think there is a failsafe strategy for selecting and rejecting career opportunities.

If you are a thinking person, you will recognize in every opportunity a complex assortment of costs, risks, and benefits. The most obvious of these will be financial. But there are emotional, intellectual, political, and social costs, risks, and benefits too.

If you did a matrix that included all of these variables, it would quickly become very difficult to read. And that’s one reason smart people like GR have trouble deciding which opportunities to take and which to reject.

Here’s the thing. Opportunities are inherently complicated. You can’t un-complicate them.

But you can un-complicate the decision-making process by identifying your priorities. Here is one way to do that:


Size matters

The first and perhaps most important consideration is the size of the opportunity. By that I mean how much the opportunity can advance your career.

If the financial benefit is modest (e.g., a chance to make a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars) in your free time, it’s usually best to decline. Why? Because you’d be better off using that time to find bigger opportunities, opportunities to add tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to your net worth.

If the financial benefit is big but short-term (e.g., a one-time chance to make an extra 10 or 20 thousand dollars), it’s also best to decline. Your free time is valuable. You want to invest it in situations that have a long life so that the benefit can compound, just like money in an investment account.


As does duration

That eliminates all but one sort of opportunity: the chance to make a lot of money indefinitely or at least over many years. These are almost always relationship opportunities – opportunities to build mutually advantageous relationships that could continue to grow for the rest of your career.

So ask yourself: Is this a transactional deal or a relationship deal? Transactional deals can be very attractive because they can result in nice, big payouts in a short span of time. But you have to keep in mind that transactional activities do not compound, and compounding – as Einstein is reported to have said – is the E=MC2 of building wealth.


The downside

Just because the opportunity is big and long-term doesn’t mean you should take it. You must also analyze the costs and risks before you make a decision.

By costs I mean any financial investment you might be asked to make and the cost in terms of your time. The financial investment is relatively easy to assess. Just ask yourself if you would be comfortable losing any part of your investment. If you would be unhappy with such a result, say no.

If you’re okay with any financial investment, you have to determine whether your time is worth the potential benefit. And there is a little trick some people use to figure out exactly how valuable their time is.

Figure out how much you make right now on a per-hour basis. (Your annual compensation, including bonuses, fees, royalties, and dividends) Then divide that by the number of hours that you work. Let’s say that number is $100. Take the number of hours you’ve determined the opportunity will cost you and divide it into the financial benefit you expect to get from it (again on a yearly basis). If it is less than $200 (effectively doubling your current hourly value), say no.

Making decisions about whether to take or reject opportunities is not as simple as tossing a coin. But it doesn’t have to be crazy difficult. You don’t have to calculate every single variable. The main considerations are very few:


  • How large is the benefit?
  • How long will it last?
  • What are the costs – both financial but also in terms of time?
  • What are the risks – and am I comfortable taking them?


Only you can make the final decision about whether or not to pursue any opportunity that comes your way. But by evaluating each opportunity in this way, you’ll make more decisions more quickly and with greater confidence.


Recommended Reading

 What makes a business valuable? Roy Furr, a young man whose career I’ve been following for some time, identifies the key ingredients in this essay…

Click to continue… One Thing & Another

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 The Car Washer

The car washer loves me

Rag in hand, ready to move

When each wet car emerges

Dripping and happy

To dry the gleaming bodies

The shining reminders of

What he does not have and

Does not deserve

These pampered pet things

Toys from another class

He will not think about it

But he moves like a cat

And like a cat there is

No room in his heart

Nor time in his day

For resentment

Neither for the owners

Or for his pot-bellied, cigar-chomping boss

He has no time for that

And these hulking creatures

Wet and happy as they are

Deserve to be kindly handled

And anyway one day he could

Have one of his own

And for that he is happy

* An earlier version of this series was published in my first poetry collection: Back and Out Again https://smile.amazon.com/Back-Again-Mark-Morgan-Ford


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There are many ways to get rich as an entrepreneur. One way is to create just the right product at just the right time. A second way is to identify, and then cater to, a neglected niche market. A third way is to introduce a new and attractive marketing strategy.

Roy Reiman made his fortune by doing all three at the same time.

Reiman got his start by working as a freelance writer and dabbling in magazine publishing. In 1970, he noticed that two farming magazines had eliminated their soft “women’s features” and he sensed an opportunity.

He devised a prototype for a magazine called Farm Wife News. To test the idea, he rented a mailing list of 400,000 farmers from an agricultural company. He sent a copy of the prototype to a tenth of the names, offering six issues for $5. The response was so great that he abandoned the next test and sent the sales package to the entire list.

A few years later, he was publishing 11 magazines aimed at the rural market and enjoying revenues of more than $300 million. His titles, with a circulation of roughly 16 million, included Country Woman, Ranch Living, and Taste of Home.

The magazine market in the USA has always been very large. But it has also been very competitive, with dozens of publications on every popular topic. So how did Reiman do it?

The most desired demographic has traditionally been young and urban. But rather than going after them, Reiman marketed to older, rural readers.

And rather than selling advertising, he decided to make his profits solely through subscription sales and renewals.

Click to continue… A Very Rich Entrepreneur You’ve Probably Never Heard About

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