Developing a gift giving decision strategy matrix maximizes feel good returns and minimizes gift exchange returns

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1. Give them exactly what they wanted. Perhaps out of your price point, but when money is no object.
2. Give them close to what they wanted. But this time within your price point.
3. Give them what they think they need.
4. Give them what they actually need. This is fraught with peril since you may be pointing out foibles.
5. Give them something completely random. This can be cute, unless its a live animal which you should completely reconsider.
6. Give them something that aligns with their thematic lifestyle. Perhaps running gear or cooking supplies.
7. Give them something to push them into a thematic lifestyle they should adopt. I keep getting cookbooks.
8 Give to some charity that can lift people out of poverty. Providing a well for a village goes a long way to reduce disease.
And whatever you do, enjoy the time together since its really just the thought. Right?
#motivation#personaldevelopment#business#charity#management

Should one pursue happiness still?

HAPPINESS BASED ON VIRTUE DOES NOT SEEM ENTHRALLING.

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Thomas Jefferson sought virtue based happiness. This may have been what he meant when he wrote the Declaration of Independence and the need for the pursuit of happiness.

Jefferson’s incredibly extensive education, much of it self-taught, appears to have been included the writings of John Lock, the Utilitarian. Jefferson was also capable in Latin and Greek, so we can assume from this that he was influenced by Aristotle. From this we have the entire concept that the pursuit of happiness endorses the Greek approach of Eudemonia. This has been interpreted to mean happiness, but literally means good guardian spirit. Aristotle’s concept of happiness meant a life well led. Just as you can’t say that an acorn is a tree, one has to look at one’s entire life to determine its’ happiness extent. Essentially a virtuous life can be based on the acts of the soul. So back in Jefferson’s time, he likely meant that overall well-being required someone to flourish as a human being and not this transitory bit of happiness we think of now.

Let’s divide the happiness of an individual into different criteria. One criteria would be to find happiness in the satisfaction of the various desires that individuals have. Therefore an individual could be happy either based on the satisfaction of these desires or the elimination of these desires. However philosophical analysis would also indicate that happiness could be far more complicated. The resolution of various desires would be more clearly defined as contentment. Happiness of the individual would then be dependent instead upon the moral values of that individual and leading a highly moral life. This may be a bit too simplistic since leading a highly moral life is insufficient to some. Ok, most people. Having good fortune is also relatively important. Sickness and poverty are severe overlying factors that can prevent or mitigate against leading a moral life and true happiness.

There has been a transition from the happiness of virtue to the virtue of happiness. This shorter approach can be very convenient in a consumer based society if purchasing more stuff makes you feel happy.

A path to happiness used to be assessed at the end of one’s life. Now everyone wants a continual happiness jolt similar to using one of those instant, non-recyclable instant coffee pods. And every day more ways appear to provide those single serve happiness pods.

The happiness discussion will continue…

#happiness #pursuit

Desperately seeking happiness

Henry Thoreau said the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.

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You it in the eyes of the men and women that commute to work on a daily basis. Work consumes them. Most look for a way out or wonder if there is something more to life. This makes the pursuing happiness goal seem unattainable. Well, there is an easy answer. Just change the goal. If you are doing what you are doing by choice, then you must be happy. If you weren’t happy, and wanted to be happy, wouldn’t you be doing something else? Or at least trying?

That comes across as a bit mean as opposed to being helpful. Here’s an emoji to soften the wording. 🙂

Does happiness remain in one place like a tree in the forest, or does it race around like a retriever in the field? Does one pursue a tree? One normally chases a dog. The metaphors do not assist in the understanding. But pursuing something suggests that it tries to evade you. Police pursue suspects and leads. Perhaps happiness should be pursued as a thief in the night? Or even better, as a neighbour’s retriever making off with your favorite tree sapling.

The pursuit that people conduct may appear to be somewhat aimless. They shift from new hobbies, sports, religions, partners in order to find what may be missing from their lives and ask what the meaning of life is. But you should consider reversing the question and ask instead how to add meaning to your life. This does not mean adding hot sauce to your nachos as you continue to watch contrived reality TV. Others ruined the term ‘fake’ for me. Sorry.

The US Declaration recognizes certain unalienable Rights, which among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. So, no one guarantees happiness, but the government certainly allows you to pursue it. Up to a point. Public nudity always springs to mind. But back to the point, the government recognizes the journey as opposed to the destination. They held these truths be self-evident, basically meaning that it should be obvious. A little description may have helped future generations a fair bit of angst.

Back in 1776, happiness may have referred more to the Greek concept of Eudaimonia, the good life or flourishing. There has been a transition from the happiness of virtue to the virtue of happiness. Very convenient in a consumer based society if more stuff makes you feel happy.

“Greek class is tough!” If Mattel used that line, perhaps it may have saved itself a fair bit of grief and ridicule. The Greek approach to happiness through virtue can be tough.

In psychology, happiness refers to an emotional state of well-being ranging from contentment to intense joy. The emotional state appears to be the more common usage today, so let’s go with emotion and virtue for now using another approach grooved into the population’s psyche.

The Happiness Pursuit shall be a topic for the next few weeks as we look at ways to travel down this path.

How to disconnect from work during the holidays.

Another form of cold turkey.

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1. Decide that you really want to disconnect and then take action. Thinking without action turns into more regret than just all the sugar cookies.

2. Ensure you really can disconnect. If you are the only one that can sign cheques and you can never leave, then you may have control issues. Delegate.

3. Make sure everyone knows. Not only staff, but family. At least family will call you on it.

4. Manage expectations. Use the autoreply and tell people you are away. This ensures they won’t think you are ignoring them. Well, you are, but you have your reasons.

5. Stop email grazing. Pretty soon you have gone through the entire buffet.

6. Enjoy yourself in other ways. If you don’t know how, then practice now.

Happy holidays!

#motivation#leadership#business#inspiration

House Renovations during a time of COVID. Bring Tools

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I pack my favorite tools in a checked bag. I fly to Victoria and successfully avoid and evade COVID in order to help our son and daughter-in law with their recent house purchase. I pour over the inspection report whose main purpose includes finding as many defects as possible. Caveat Emptor. The buyer needs a thousand eyes, but the seller, well he needs but only one. That kind of university education does shake one’s faith in humanity a touch, but I persevere.

Arriving at the house, my son and daughter-in-law beam happily. But the house remains stoic. I am pleased that the house does justice for all of the photos from the report. Any photo from the realtor seems to distort reality, while the inspector’s photos bring reality back to focus. Sometimes harshly. Like all good things, a bit of distance does make things look better. Up close, some of the flaws can be distracting. Thoreau’s mild caution comes to mind for when the couple get their house, they may not be the richer but the poorer for it and it be the house that has got them. 

At twenty-five years, the house aged well. The first owners may not have aged as well however. When the original owners sold, a contractor bought the house a few years ago and saw an opportunity to do a quick gut and turn a bit of a profit. The subsequent buyers only had the place for a couple of years and decided to move to a different neighbourhood. Unfortunately, they had to sell during the time of COVID. The virus had not peaked yet, but the fear component was quite high. And Warren Buffet did recommend along the lines of buying when others are fearful, so this seem be that situation. Not that he made it into the realtor’s report.

The contractors revamped the exterior. This meant a new coat of paint that also meant painting the roof. They advertised the roof as slate tiles, but I eventually figured out the tiles were actually cement. Did painting cement mean anything longevity wise? How well does paint adhere to concrete? Many questions and not too many answers. The house inspector did not have a firm answer. This became more of a research project as opposed to a renovation project.

All the lovely flowers in Victoria seem to be a result of all the rain. So it seems that constant November to February showers bring March flowers. It does not sound as poetic that way. A problem with houses is that they are mainly made with wood. If the wood is no longer part of a tree, then the showers contacting the wood becomes a problem. Showers also bring fungus rot. Not as pretty as a flower.

And yes, we began caulking. One of those neat words that act as a noun and as a gerund. Builders cover many of the decks with vinyl to keep the area underneath the deck relatively dry. So whenever they cut through the vinyl to make way for deck railings, it just seems to defeat the purpose. Remember National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation when Clark Griswold was happily putting hundreds of little staple holes in his shingled roof? Something like that. More Chalking.

The main living area on the second floor faces a rock hill behind the house. This attractive feature diverts all of that surface water down to the base of the house. Lovely moss and ferns cover the rock face. This suggests that lots of moisture cascades down this area. Weeping tiles seem to be doing a great job in collecting the water and diverting it around the house. Except for all of those little spaces in between the house and cement patio. More Caulking.

A few deck posts appear to have been heavily puttied. This material covers up areas that have decayed away, until the putty starts to crumble itself. Cut and replace. Way past caulking.

At the far end of the deck, one of the main beams no longer reaches its final destination. A standing post. Just a few inches shy. A post too far perhaps. The next to last post is only four feet away, so this hovering beam needs to be redone. The beam can cantilever for a couple of feet, but it can’t cantilever there forever. Cut out the old, and put in the new.

Good job for a reciprocating saw. I have a nice rechargeable Black and Decker one. Did I say rechargeable with one of those large lithium batteries that seem to catch on fire occasionally when on a plane? The battery would have to come in my carry-on while the saw itself would have to stay in the checked bag. And does anyone besides me read those little boxes you check before printing your airplane ticket? One asks are you carrying explosives? Easy no there. The next one asks about carrying power tools? Answering yes kicks you out of the main line and into the exception line for check-in. In Canada, the attendant taking the bags simply told me that a saw would be fine. I have been dragged into the “exception line” in foreign countries on occasion. These rooms have metal tables and people with automatic weapons. No reasons were ever given, and it was not a Midnight Express experience, but something to avoid.

After the outside repairs, we can now look inwards. Not for introspection, but for the problems inside of the house. The one thing that could be worse than water, which gives life and appears so attractive in photos, would be termites.

Termites have a right to live too, just not in the house. Our inspection found this little insect colony near the boiler room. Termites become the kiss of resale death for houses in the US. The Western Drywood termites there can start on wood and carry-on merrily until they are done. The Victoria Subterranean Termites require moisture and they construct tunnels in order to move from one area to another. So they constructed little earthen tunnels. Taking out small parts of the drywall, we can see that they did not affect the wood at all and simply abandoned the nest. It resembled an ancient abandoned Mayan civilization. Only the structures remain. But we got rid of the termite structures anyway.

After a week of tearing some things apart and rebuilding others, I return home. The young adults seem pleased. Job done. At least for now. I pack away most of my tools. I leave some behind since I seem to own 4 or 5 of the same tool. I can’t resist shiny things.

Later that month at home our daughter calls. She just bought a nice turn of the century house. Come and have a look she says. Bring tools.  

The Nature of Corporations

People and entities in search of a soul

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Corporations must remain flexible and capable of reacting to any opportunity that falls within its own strategic positioning. A Shamrock style of corporation with categories of staff ranging from casual, regular and contract staff assists in this flexibility.[1] One can immediately see the same need within individuals, but we are constrained somewhat since we cannot hire additional units of ourselves. However, we can additional external units of assistance to deal with other issues that are preventing us from achieving our personal goals. Having someone cutting the grass or cleaning the house can open up the necessary time to refocus our own priorities.

Does one really want to emulate a company? Can we look at their successes to determine whether we should consider this approach? From a number of criteria, companies have become the major factor in global economic development. There may be a time that companies exceed nations in overall impact on society and economics. It may be hard to believe that any corporation will ever approach the U.S. in overall GDP and cultural impact. But if you look at the top grossing corporations and countries, of the top 50, there are 13 corporations. The largest corporation earns more that either Finland or Denmark, and that really makes it a world player. Certainly nation states, with the U.S. leading the way, will probably always be the major economic force in the world, but not in the same way as global corporations, which have far greater autonomy and much narrower objectives than nations.

Some are concerned that the rise of the modern corporation has overwhelmed the citizen in civil society and in political action. The corporation is especially advantaged against the citizen in the determination of foreign policy. Putting these two advantages together accounts for the peculiarly dehumanized values which are frequently manifest in U.S. foreign policy and international economic relations. A major issue today is how should moral guidance be provided to social entities such as the corporation? One does not have to look farther than the Enron example to see the depth and breadth of the problems that today’s corporations face.

But why should moral guidance apply to corporations? Why do corporations exist but to facilitate commerce and provide a return on capital for those that have provided the funds? Why should the investors have to pay for some social enterprise when they are mostly interested in getting the best return on their investment? Anything else would be unethical as that is simply diverting money that the company is in a way holding in trust for the shareholders. It would be a breach of fiduciary duty to do something with the corporate resources which didn’t maximize profits.

In applying the corporate model to life, we have to clearly differentiate the profit model of a traditional business to more of a non-profit model for life. The business model as it applies to an individual would be more along the lines of a charitable non-profit model. Charities must achieve some sort of positive revenue flow, so non-profit does not mean no profit. It merely refers to the fact that charities have greater objectives in mind. Their mission and vision could be the relief of poverty, the education of children, or the protection of the environment. All of these require money of course, but in their revenue generating activities, excess revenues over expenses goes back into the business instead of dividends to shareholders.

Is there is more to life than just money?

Although that may sound a bit heretical to some/most people, there are more things in life than simply money. Another criteria that we are trying to avoid when using the corporate model of life is the accumulation of power. This appears to the be the driving force for a number of individuals in business, and sometimes politics in thinking that you can get the most out of life through power. Either by creating it, or having other people give it to you. And, in a lot of situations, that is what it mainly boils down to; other people have to accept in giving power over themselves to you.


[1] Handy, Charles.

#soul #motivation #inspiration