Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Lesson 3: It’s not really about you


Author's note: I am a compulsive advice-giver-always have been.  When my own son was in high school, he wasn't interested in his old man's advice so I wrote it down in the hope that he might change his mind one day.  What follows is one piece of the that advice.  I trust it applies to all of us, regardless of age.
Scientists are generally happier than artists, since they’re commonly lost in objective tasks and not examining their own navels.
—Bertrand Russell
One of the great ironies of life is that the only way to be personally fulfilled is to place your focus outside of yourself.
Consider the sad cases of any number of celebrities and professional athletes. Paris Hilton. Britney Spears. Lindsay Lohan. Marilyn Monroe. Judy Garland. Michael Jackson. Michael Vick. O.J. Simpson.  The list goes on and on and on.
What does this unfortunate but diverse group have in common? From a very early age, they were taught that they were special. All parents try to instill this thought in their children, but in these cases there was no accompanying sense of humility, no understanding of their need to fit into and improve the world around them. These young people were so special that the normal rules of behavior and obligation did not apply. Their goal in life was to show the world how beautiful, talented, and special they were, not to make a contribution to society.
In short, it was all about them.
I don’t know about you, but I have always felt deeply sorry for these sad individuals. What a miserable existence it must be to spend one’s entire life in the vacuum of self. But they are smart people; they must instinctively have known that this was not right, even though their so-called friends assured them that it was. Too often, the ironic result of this conflict is secret, agonizing insecurity and a futile search for meaning.
What does this have to do with you? Children are naturally and unavoidably self-centered creatures, and adults, in an effort to instill self-esteem, often magnify this mindset through their words and actions. As you approached adulthood yourself, you most likely came to realize that the world does not actually revolve around you. In that respect, you’re already several steps ahead of the group we’ve been discussing.
But here’s the kicker: true happiness, real fulfillment, and successful personal relationships can only be achieved when you shift your focus from yourself to others. That’s not to say that you should ignore or deny the things that make you special—quite the opposite. Cherish and develop them. Use those gifts to make a positive impact on the world around you. That is the way to real self-esteem.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Lesson 2: It's all in your head.

Author's note: I am a compulsive advice-giver-always have been.  When my own son was in high school, he wasn't interested in his old man's advice so I wrote it down in the hope that he might change his mind one day.  What follows is one piece of the that advice.  I trust it applies to all of us, regardless of age.

There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.
—William Shakespeare
Early on, we must establish the premise that you, and only you, have control over your own thinking. This is an absolute truth, and you must accept it before going further.
To reject this premise is to view yourself as helpless, weak, and unable to think independently. Everyone knows on some level that they can control their minds, but most never consciously do it. Once you accept that you can control your thinking, the next step is to take responsibility for doing so.
Have you ever known anyone who only seemed to be happy when he or she was miserable? This may be because you can blame misery on someone else, but you must take personal responsibility in order to be happy. As Robert Anthony put it, “Most people would rather be certain they're miserable than risk being happy.”
What these miserable people can’t grasp is that their misery is their own fault, just as they would deserve the credit if they were happy. Both happiness and misery are results of simple decisions you make about your attitude.
Martha Washington said, “The greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions, and not on our circumstances.” Follow this logic with me for a moment: if our happiness is determined by our disposition, and we can control that disposition, then we have the power to create our own happiness.
Your disposition is like a garden: if you pay attention to it and give it care, it will grow and flourish. If you ignore or neglect it, then weeds will creep in, the good stuff will die, and it will get ugly.
You are the gardener of your own disposition. It’s not a job that you can delegate to others, and it’s not going to happen on its own. If it’s going to get done, you will have to do it yourself. Don’t expect outside forces to provide that which you alone control.
All I’m asking of you right now is that you accept that you can control your own thinking and resolve to do so. Resolve—here and now—that you will not leave your own disposition to chance. Take responsibility for the kind of person you will be.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Lesson 1: Attitude is everything

Author's note: I am a compulsive advice-giver-always have been.  When my own son was in high school, he wasn't interested in his old man's advice so I wrote it down in the hope that he might change his mind one day.  What follows is one piece of the that advice.  I trust it applies to all of us, regardless of age.

If you don't like something, change it.  If you can't change it, change your attitude.  Don't complain.
                                                                                                -Maya Angelou

Your attitude is the prime factor in some of the most important things in your life: personal happiness, success in your career, the quality of personal relationships, effectiveness in getting what you want, ability to deal with problems, and how others view you.

Let’s take a fresh look at what’s rightly been called “the magic word.”

For the record, Houghton Mifflin’s American Heritage Steadman’s Medical Dictionary defines attitude as: “A relatively stable and enduring predisposition to behave or react in a certain way.”

Think about the phrase “relatively stable.” Your attitude doesn’t change with each situation. It generally holds true wherever you are and whatever you’re doing.

This next bit is one of life’s greatest lessons, elegant in its sheer truth and simplicity:

A great attitude will result in a great life.

A lousy attitude will result in a lousy life.

You have complete and total control over your own attitude, so choose wisely.

The single greatest thing you can do for yourself is to adopt and keep a positive attitude about everything in your life. Wouldn’t you rather enjoy life than trudge through each day with a dark cloud over your head, dreading the next hour, wishing for something you can’t define? You can have that good life. You just have to make the decision, and then put it into practice every day.

Studies have shown that the one trait that’s always present in highly successful people is—you guessed it—a great attitude.

Almost all of the lessons to follow relate in some way or other to this one. Burn it into your subconscious. Believe it. Live it, and you cannot fail.

Monday, March 31, 2014

What's The World Coming To?

1 - Our world has some serious long-term challenges that need attention -- but policy makers don't seem to be looking. I invite you to spend a couple minutes with this week's article, which comes from the brilliant mind of Professor Kenneth Rogoff. 

2 -  On the other hand, there is some good news to report. You know the U.S. imports much more in the way of goods and services than we sell to the rest of the world. Well, don't look now but the situation has improved a lot. Spend another minute with this week's second article.

3 - Over the last few years, many investment professionals (including us at Millard & Company) have gradually moved away from mutual funds in favor of exchange-traded funds, commonly known as ETFs. Watch this week's video to see why.

4 - A HEADS-UP FOR CLIENTS: Today is the last day of the quarter, so quarterly reports will be coming soon. We have spent the last six months transitioning to a new portfolio management and reporting system, so your report will look different than what you're used to. Please let us know what you think.

Have a great week!


Monday, March 24, 2014

The Power of Expectations

1 - Last week's article on saving prompted some thoughtful comments by one of our clients. He sent them to me in an email and gave permission to use them in this week's newsletter. The author shall remain nameless due to industry regulations and privacy concerns, but I think you'll enjoy it.

2 - As a follow-on to Michael's identity theft video last week, we have an article on the same topic but with a few different strategies for protecting yourself. Check it out

3 - What are the odds that a child's very first day of school would turn out to be one of the luckiest days of his or her life? It happened to me, and it illustrates the power of our own expectations. Watch this week's video to see what I mean.

Have a fantabulous week!


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Twist & Turn of the Stock Market

The stock market sometimes moves in mysterious ways, and there are those who would tell you the exact cause of every twist and turn. Here's a more likely explanation - and the reason why it probably doesn't matter. (Find more videos on our YouTube channel:
1 - In case we needed another example of the futility of predicting market performance, the Dow posted its best 3-day gain of the year last week. Where did that come from? Both This Week's Economic News (below) and This Week's Video (above) attempt to explain the unexplainable.

2 - Despite what the markets might be saying, Europe is still in dire fiscal straits. Depending on whom you listen to, we could eventually see (a) a Greek exit from the eurozone, (b) a complete breakup of the euro, (c) a surviving but somewhat changed eurozone, or (d) a smaller fiscal union anchored by Germany, France, Italy and Spain. But knowing that we really can't tell what might happen, perhaps we should add (d) none of the above. 

3 - Reminder to clients: In case you have yet to complete our technology survey, please CLICK HERE to do so. 

 Have an unpredictably fun week!



How could that happen with such negative indicators? Two words: renewed hope. Thursday, European Central Bank president Mario Draghi said the ECB would do whatever is needed to save the euro; Friday, Draghi was reportedly talking with Germany's central bank about coordinated sovereign debt purchases. So the Dow (+1.97% to 13,075.66), NASDAQ (+1.12% to 2,958.09) and S&P 500 (+1.71% to 1,385.97) all did well last week. COMEX gold rose 2.22% last week to end Friday at $1,618.00; oil settled at $90.13 Friday, as prices slipped 1.85% across five days.1,4,6

S&P 500
7/27 RATE
  Sources:,,, - 7/27/124,7,8,9
Indices are unmanaged, do not incur fees or expenses, and cannot be invested into directly.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Important Information from Andy About Home Mortgage

Andy discusses three aspects of the good ol' home mortgage that we may not often hear about -- or think about.
(Find more videos on our YouTube channel:

1 - CLIENTS: We are currently considering several technology initiatives, and we need your input. Please CLICK HERE to take a brief survey; you would be doing us a huge favor.  

2 - I was a bit hasty last week in announcing that our next Dinner and a Movie would occur next month. Michele pointed out that we've had a lot of events recently, and it might be good to wait a while before the next one. Therefore, our next client Dinner and a Movie event will take place on Friday, September 14. Save the date! 

3 - One of the more nettlesome financial topics clients often face is how to deal with their home mortgageThis week's video discusses three important things any mortgage-holder should bear in mind. 

Have a most excellent week!