Tag Archive: Eugene


“(The intent of the Tax Wall Street Act is to) drive leeches that are front running the market out of business.” – Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon) on CNBC

Is the Eugene, Oregon-based author of Almost DailyBrett, a lecherous leech?

Your author builds a career. Your author works all of his life. Your author pays his fair share of taxes. Your author chooses the time (2018) and place for his retirement (Eugene).

Sounds good, but …

My congressman, Mr. DeFazio, wants to double tax everyone’s retirement with a 0.1 percent tax on every stock or mutual fund trade we will ever make as long-term investors, conceivably until it’s time to meet our respective makers.

Ostensibly, DeFazio’s tax targets high-frequency/high-velocity investors, many disguised as algorithms. The only problem is his sweeping tax also applies to millions of real middle-class people … including retail investors residing in Oregon’s 4th Congressional District.

All they want to do is invest their already taxed discretionary income to fund their retirement, pay for their children’s education (e.g., University of Oregon) and maybe to pursue their dreams. Alas, Rep. DeFazio has introduced the “Tax Wall Street Act of 2019” with its punitive stock and mutual fund trade tax.

Mr. Congressman, my family is not Wall Street in Manhattan. We are East of Willamette Street in Eugene.

The honorable congressman thinks he is punishing Wall Street, when he instead is taking dead aim at America’s investor class or the 52 percent of Americans (approximately 170 million), who invest in individual stocks or mutual funds.

Many of these mutual fund investment trades are made by pension managers and by individual employee managed 401Ks at work (e.g., public employees, including school teachers). Almost DailyBrett maintains a humble retail account with Charles Schwab. Sorry, no Goldman Sachs for me.

Why are you (DeFazio) sticking a Wall Street tax on all investors who live in your district, and any other investor in every congressional district across the fruited plain?

DeFazio’s Dithering Performance on CNBC

CNBC’s Kelly Evans asked you point blank on “The Exchange” last week why you didn’t “target” high-velocity algorithmic day traders instead of proposing a sweeping tax, which applies to every middle-class investor in the country.

You dithered, Congressman DeFazio. You know, you did.

When Evans inquired about the use of the projected $777 billion in additional revenues, you suggested restoring some of the expanding deficit triggered by tax reform. Congressman DeFazio didn’t know where and how the money will be spent. He only wanted to sock-it to Wall Street and with it, middle-class investors.

Maybe, you should Occupy Wall Street? How did that movement work out?

Fortunately, there are enough adults in the House of Representatives and certainly in the U.S. Senate to ensure this bill goes absolutely nowhere.

Having made this point, the coast is not clear. The mindset of my congressman and his partner in crime, Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and without a doubt many others in positions of immense power, indicates an antipathy to all publicly traded companies (none of which are headquartered in Oregon’s 4th Congressional District).

Every issue large and small seemingly requires the same remedy: a new tax.

Congressman DeFazio, you need to understand that middle-class retirees in your district have already been taxed on their nest eggs. Under your plan, each-and-every-one of your investing constituents will pay an additional tax just for the right to continue to invest their hard-earned money on their futures.

You know you are wrong, but you will piously insist you are right … err correct.

Almost DailyBrett has never been a “high-velocity” trader and never will be.

Just hoping to keep up my velocity for years to come.

https://www.cnbc.com/video/2019/03/08/rep-peter-defazio-on-the-tax-wall-street-act.html

https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/03/wall-street-tax-act-financial-illiteracy-in-congress/

https://www.foxbusiness.com/politics/its-premature-to-start-freaking-out-over-the-wall-street-tax-act-liz-ann-sonders

http://investsnips.com/publicly-traded-companies-in-oregon/

 

 

 

 

Always wanted a tree house.

Not a literal house in a mighty tree, but an Oregon home with a forest deck surrounded by Douglas firs, wandering deer and playful squirrels.

A place to set off for morning runs, savor upscale coffee, little green chariot drives, day-trade, write blogs, soak-off remaining stress of a four-decade career in the hot tub, and smell the roses with my wunderbare Frau, Jeanne.

And let’s not forget the 30-yard-line seats 15 rows behind the opponent’s bench. As they say: “It never rains at Autzen Stadium” … until it does.

The residence serves as a jumping-off point to periodically see the world and to savor special places. For Jeanne and yours truly we have checked out Germany, Italy, Spain and the Bahamas …

What’s next? Can hardly wait to find out.

Sometimes, the author of Almost DailyBrett when trapped in mind-numbing, never-ending, bumper-to-bumper traffic would day-dream about even having the time to read a novel, let along taking a multi-week trip to some place Fantabulous.

That dream will soon be coming true. The day-to-day grind will mercifully come to an end, and the joie de vivre is just beginning. It’s time to do what I want to do.

A Great Career … and then some

Yes, there are two paths you can go by; But in the long run
There’s still time to change the road you’re on
– Jimmy Page, Robert Plant

The old saying in Sacramento to this day is: “When in doubt, declare victory!”

A recent documentary about Arnold Schwarzenegger examined his unbelievable success story from his days as a child of a typical Austrian policeman to his spectacular rise as the greatest body-builder of all time, a movie star, Philanthropist and most amazingly, governor of the largest state in the union.

When asked about his recent dalliance, he readily admitted his failures. He reminded us that humans cannot fly, so the farthest we can fall … is to the ground.

Fortunately, my career has been more ups than downs. Please allow me to humbly declare victory.

The author of Almost DailyBrett began his career as a cub reporter covering the 1978 California tax revolt earthquake. Four years later, he was serving as the press director of the Deukmejian Campaign Committee in a Golden State gubernatorial campaign that we twice almost lost, but persevered and won.

Never dreamed that a gubernatorial commission with my name and the words, “Press Secretary” would sit beside my desk. And yet there it is in black and white with a beautiful gold seal.

As the director of communications for the Semiconductor Industry Association, your author was given a crash course in the wonders and magic of digital technology. He visited capitals around the world (e.g., Tokyo, Washington D.C., London, Brussels, Stockholm … ), while assisting an ultimately successful, all-out effort to open up the Japan market.

Could not ever envision being a corporate guy, and yet your author served for 10 years as a director of corporate public relations for a publicly traded semiconductor company. Next up was nearly four years of agency life serving clients’ 16-hours apart from Ireland to Taiwan … sometimes on the same day.

The three-decade career spanned politics/government, non-profit, corporate and agency, but still there was something missing: Giving Back.

Time to start a second career in academia.

Almost DailyBrett always wanted to seek an advanced degree and to teach. Mission accomplished. My most cherished moments are when my thankful former students tell me about their great new jobs and the excitement in their lives.

Now it’s my turn to the change the road I’m on.

Mortality Is Everywhere

Losing my best man and best friend forever John Newhouse hit your author very hard.

He was only 62-years-young, way too young to buy the proverbial ranch.

Someday, I will hopefully be able to buy him the first microbrew in heaven … just not now … Please!

With Jeanne last August, we discussed life over a dry Riesling on the veranda of the  11th Century Castle Hotel Auf Schönburg on a cliff overlooking the Rhine. We reflected on the fact that a tour of duty is four years in military terms. Why can’t it be the same in academic life terms?

We made the decision then-and-there to come home to the tree house in the forest.

Today, your author looks out the window of our Oregon house at a fall masterpiece with the leaves on the ground and the rain making its autumnal return.

Seven months later, the forest will bloom again and the sun will be warm.

And we will be finally at home and at peace in our Eugene tree house.

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/07/05/craftingdelivering-the-eulogy/

 

Oregon will never be confused with Tuscany.

In Tuscany, thousands wait in line for hours to check out Michelangelo’s “David.”

In contrast, somebody in Oregon is named, “David.”

In Tuscany, one can queue-up for hours to admire Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” standing in her perfect sea shell.

In Oregon, one can find sea shells at the coast, not sure about Venus.

Frances Mayes’ book, “Under the Tuscan Sun,” and the movie with the same title tells the story of an American (e.g., actress Diane Lane) in search of a life change, and a little love too.

She made a totally impractical, impulsive decision. Seemingly on a whim, she bought a classic “fixer-upper” in Cortona, Tuscany and lived to talk about it. The book’s story and the heroine, who took the ultimate plunge, set off a series of similar decisions as literally hundreds of upper class Americans rushed to Central Italy to buy their own Italian villa in the sun.

Reportedly, some even asked the locals for the Italian word for “cappuccino.”

The author of Almost DailyBrett eventually made the trek to Tuscany with his new bride, Jeanne, to celebrate our honeymoon. We stayed in a 12th Century Italian villa on a bluff overlooking Il Duomo de Firenze, but we resisted the temptation to buy the Torre di Bellosguardo.

That does not mean your author is innocent when it comes to rash, impulsive decisions. In 2010, I came to Oregon at 55-years-young in search of a master’s degree, Oregon football games in the fall, and maybe a little love too.

The impulsive part comes into play when one asks: Why would a middle-age widower (being kind here) decide to buy a three-bedroom, two-bath 2,000-square-foot “tree” house for himself and his American shorthair feline, Percy?

Wouldn’t renting make more sense, particularly when one contemplates widespread academic prejudice: my chances of landing a teaching job at University of Oregon after graduation would be next to none? Renting easily made more sense, except for the George Carlin “stuff” factor.

Carlin’s comedic monologue about the never-ending acquisition of “stuff” (i.e., beds, dressers, chairs, tables, washer/dryer, fridge …) results in a predictable crisis. Can the author of Almost DailyBrett downsize from a 2,200-square-foot Monopoly (ranch-style) house in Northern California to a 1,000-square-foot apartment, and still find sufficient space for his stuff?

Let me interject right now: your author does not do orange metal doors surrounded by Berlin Bunker concrete (e.g., storage units = unintelligent loss of legal tender).

So what did all of the above make me? A displaced Californian with equity to transfer, looking for a tree house to display his stuff, and live and study as well … Under the Oregon Clouds.

Spider and The Fly

On more than one occasion, it has been questioned why would a single-at-the-time, follicly challenged mature dude acquire a 2,000-square foot house with a deck, hot tub and occasionally serving prosciutto and melon with Sangiovese? Was my Eugene house the human equivalent of a spider’s web, looking for “some little girl to fly on by” as suggested by Mick Jagger in The Spider and The Fly?

Almost DailyBrett will piously declare the primary purpose for the turn-key Eugene house with next to zero backyard maintenance was to serve as a place to study, research and finish a master’s degree in Communication and Society. The next steps were finding a full-time teaching gig. The wonderful new wife came later, even though my eyes were always surveying the horizon for both.

The aforementioned Jeanne became Mrs. Brett on her own recognizance, and yours truly was offered a doctoral fellowship to Arizona State University and a tenure track professorship at Central Washington University, taking the latter position.

What that on-the-one-hand and on-the-other-hand decision meant was transporting my new bride, two alley cats and our  “stuff” to a townhouse in Ellensburg, Washington and renting out the house Under the Oregon Clouds. That plan worked for two years until the renters (e.g., Stefanie and George) decided to move.

Considering that our move back to Eugene was not coming anytime soon, we made the decision to sell the house Under the Oregon Clouds. Think of it this way, a house is bricks and mortar or some variation of that theme. We can always buy another house, another day maybe with sun above. Right?

And yet, the house did not sell as the rain fell during the winter. The house Under the Oregon Clouds is quirky (e.g., it has character). It has three flights of stairs, a car-port instead of a garage (for your stuff). Das Haus ist nicht für Alles.

It did not sell. We couldn’t be happier.

Someday, we will once again visit the 12th Century Firenze villa Under the Tuscan Sun.

More importantly, we will surely move back to that special tree house Under the Oregon Clouds.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Under_the_Tuscan_Sun_(film)

http://www.francesmayesbooks.com/under-the-tuscan-sun/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvgN5gCuLac

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0CSs4Nf-64

The author of Almost DailyBrett served as a chief spokesman for California Governor George Deukmejian for seven years (eight years when one counts the 1982 gubernatorial campaign).

He also cut his teeth as a reporter covering the Proposition 13 tax revolt way back in 1978.

And yet there is the realization that he may never return on a permanent basis to California.Calcoast

And likewise, there are literally hundreds of thousands who may never leave their present California residence/rental for another in the state or even across town because they simply can’t.

The problem:

Where can they move?

What will they pay?

How much is the new mortgage?

How much is the new rent?

How much are the increased property taxes?

How much are the income, sales and gas taxes?

How much are the bridge tolls?

Will it still take 45 minutes to drive five miles?

Yes, there are Golden State Handcuffs. Even though they glisten in the light, they are still handcuffs.

Stockton, Modesto, Visalia, Bakersfield

Lovely Central Valley destinations, such as Stockton, Modesto, Visalia and Bakersfield, are all doable for those who want to move to the Golden State. The Mercury rarely exceeds 115-degrees in the summer and the mind-numbing Tule fog usually lifts after about six weeks in the winter.bakersfield

The fortunate ones are those who have found their pads in livable places in the Golden State, but can they actually leave if they wanted to and go someplace else? For far too many, the answer is “no.”

One of the reasons is taxes. When it comes to levies California has every one of them: income, sales, property, gas, bridge tolls etc., etc., etc.

The top federal rate is 39.6 percent and 30 percent for capital gains, figures that need to be factored into this discussion. California’s “progressive” income tax rate tops out at 13.3 percent, the nation’s highest. Translated: high-salary earners spend more than half the year to pay both the feds and the state.

My present home in Ellensburg, Washington has nada state income tax, but we do pay an 8 percent sales tax.

My adopted state of Oregon has zero sales tax.

Folks in San Diego are paying 8 percent sales tax, Sacramento, 8.50 percent; San Francisco, 8.75 percent; Los Angeles, 9 percent. Can piercing the psychologically important double-digit rate to buy virtually anything be far behind? Don’t be surprised by a 10 percent+ sales tax coming soon in California’s blue counties.

For those living in the Bay Area, it costs $5 to drive across the Bay Bridge, ditto for the San Mateo and Dumbarton. The Golden Gate charges $6 for the privilege. Hey, weren’t the tolls for these bridges supposed to be rescinded once the bonds were paid off? Silly me.

California’s gas taxes (both federal/state combined) are 71.29 cents per gallon, leaving other high taxing states, such as New York, in the rear-view mirror.

The Proposition 13 Blessing/Curse

Looking back at the “Wonder Years” house that was my home for 15 years in suburban Pleasanton with its desultory hour-plus commute one way over the Sunol Grade, my mortgage was around $1,850 and my annual property tax was $5,225. The latter figure is high when one weighs it against my comparable size Eugene, Oregon house with a property tax levy of approximately $3,400.

Today, the very same house in Pleasanton would require a $3,400 mortgage or a $3,500 per month rent or about 2x what I shelled out in mortgage payments just four years ago. The property tax is now $8,600 or more than $700 per month. These figures come from Zillow, which is historically regarded to be low in its estimates.

An über-successful friend of mine pays an annual property tax rate of $75,000 for the privilege of living in his relatively new West Los Angeles house for just one year. He gets to repeat this pocket-digging exercise next year and presumably every year. His next neighbor pays a fraction of that amount because he has not sold his pad, thus triggering reappraisal.

The memories of the Proposition 13 property tax revolt (e.g., Jarvis-Gann) still linger. People were upset with inflation approaching 18 percent and resulting property tax bills of 30 percent higher than two years earlier. Proposition 13 simply kept many in their homes because California’s one-party Legislature failed to act.jarvisgann

And yet the sale-triggers-reappraisal-and-a-new-tax rate, coupled with the escalation of property values, has not only made California unaffordable for new home buyers (e.g., good luck Millennials), it is trapping Baby Boomers and X-Gens in their own homes, residences and in some cases apartments.

A rent controlled studio apartment in San Francisco will stay at a similar monthly stipend unless and until the renter moves. The real question: Can that renter actually afford to move? Is that renter essentially trapped in downtown San Francisco?

Granted there are worse fates in life than being “trapped” in a rent controlled studio apartment in the City by the Bay, but Golden State Handcuffs are just that, Golden State Handcuffs.

California has always enjoyed great weather, the best in the lower 48. The state never looks better than it does from the tailgate parties at Brookside Golf Course on New Year’s Day. Alas, there is a reality of skyrocketing housing and rental prices, every tax imaginable and conceivably more hikes to come, and traffic that saps your soul and Joie de Vivre.

It’s sad, but California is not the state it was when I grew up.

For some, you literally can’t go back home.

For others, you can’t leave home.

http://www.boe.ca.gov/cgi-bin/rates_2013.cgi

http://www.batolls.info/

http://taxfoundation.org/blog/top-state-income-tax-rates-2014

http://www.bankrate.com/finance/taxes/states-with-highest-gasoline-excise-taxes-2.aspx

 

 

 

Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” – Winston Churchill

My maternal grandfather never wanted to go to two places: Hell and Russia.

He lived to the century mark and slightly beyond. I doubt he went anyplace, but heaven. I’m certain he never stepped foot inside Russia.

kevinrussia

The author of Almost DailyBrett visited the USSR in 1981, when Leonid Brezhnev and the Politburo were calling the shots. That was 33 years ago.

Today, the Soviet Union is an unpleasant Cold War memory. Nonetheless, Russia remains a difficult and perplexing nine-time-zone nation on the geopolitical map, stretching from Belarus in the West to Vladivostok on the Pacific … and is just as fascinating as ever.

Putin or no Vladimir Putin, I want to go back and check out the changes before I meet Anastasia (“screamed in vain”) in the after-life.

Honeymoon in Stalingrad?

Even though I married Rachel Weisz’ twin, or at least Jeanne could easily be mistaken as Rachel’s sibling, we are not heading to the banks of the Volga for our belated honeymoon. The castles of Bavaria and the phallic symbols of Tuscany in summer are a smidge more romantic.

This is not to suggest that Enemy at the Gates was not a love story. Heck, you have all the elements of a great Casablanca love triangle: Jude Law (sniper Vassili Zaitzev), Joseph Fiennes (Commissar Danilov) and Weisz (Tania), the rubble of Stalingrad and the Wehrmacht and the Red Army in a battle to the death.lawweisz

Nonetheless Russia is calling, and it is a bucket list kind of summons. Some may want to jump out of airplanes. Others may swim with dolphins or sharks (hard to keep them straight) or march with the penguins in Antarctica.

Yours truly wants to walk across Krásnaya Plóshchaď (Red Square) one more time. The same applies to St. Petersburg (it was Leningrad back in 1981) with the Hermitage Museum (Czar’s Winter Palace) and the Summer Palace.

And of course, this time there must be a visit to the aforementioned Stalingrad, now named Volgagrad. It will never be Volgagrad in my mind; it will always be Stalingrad, the most decisive battle of World War II. Germany was finished after Field Marshal Friedrich Wilhelm Ernst Paulus surrendered his surrounded Sixth Army in January 1943.

Looking down at the Russian steppes 33 years ago from an Aeroflot flight from Moscow to Vilnius, Lithuania, I could imagine the majestic Cossacks, Napoleon’s Grand Armee and Hitler’s Panzers all charging deeper and deeper into Russia.

Reflecting back on the trip, I was repeatedly asked when I was going “in and out” of Russia, not “to and from.”

A Trip Like No Other

“Take me to your daddy’s farm; Let me hear your balalaika’s ringing out; Come and keep your comrade warm; I’m back in the U.S.S.R.; Hey you don’t know how lucky you are boys; Back in the U.S.S.R.” – The Beatles

Living in Eugene, Oregon for four years, I was always amused by the city’s “community” gardens. These are patches of land where like-minded folks under the tender, loving guidance of the City of Eugene plant their sustainable and organic crops (if you don’t believe me, just ask them) and maybe even dream of a communal environment where everyone is truly equal.

Regularly driving past this garden on Amazon Parkway, I would reflect back more than three decades to my trip to the Soviet Union. Certainly, Russia was a “social” society at the time (e.g., prefab apartment blocks, jammed fossil-fuel emitting buses, foreign currency-only outlets, and empty store shelves), but I am not certain about the “justice” part.

There was this problem with the “most equal of the equals.” They were the ones in the fancy limousines being whisked to-and-from the Kremlin in their special lanes. These were the same “simple” folks in the fancy boxes at the Kremlin Hall of the Congresses for the opening night of the Bolshoi Ballet’s Swan Lake. Something tells me that the working Ivan never made it to the intermission buffet of caviar and Moskovskaya vodka.

collective

Coming back closer to home: Do the overly educated of Eugene and other cerebral towns really want to emulate the USSR and its collective farms and communal poverty? What is the attraction? Maybe the author of Almost DailyBrett is not smart enough to comprehend.

When asked if I have ever seen real poverty, I think back to my trip to at best, second-world Russia. As my friend and colleague who made the trip with me said” “They treat their people like (insert your favorite fecal material word here).”

Spending any amount of time in the USSR and contrasting it with 1980s Morning in America completed my own political metamorphosis.

Would I recommend Russia as a vacation destination? It all depends what you want to accomplish for your precious time away from the demands of the workplace? If you are looking for romance and your Corona con limon playa, go elsewhere.

If you are a buff on history, politics, suspense (e.g., LeCarre, Forsyth, DeMille novels) and intrigue, Russia may be just your brand of vodka.

Next time, I will remember to keep my eyes open for my photo in front of the onion domes of St. Basil’s in Moscow.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enemy_at_the_Gates

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Square

http://www.excursions-volgograd.ru/en/excursion/museum_battle_stalingrad_tour

http://listverse.com/2012/09/17/top-10-facts-about-the-battle-of-stalingrad/

http://www.eugene-or.gov/communitygardens

 

Making Change Your Friend

“For a lot of people, ‘What if I do nothing?’ is a no-brainer … Do you think you can go sideways and hum along? There is no sideways in life. Life applies friction.” – Entrepreneur and motivator Jonathan Fields delivering a TEDx Talk.

The mileage as the crow flies between Eugene, Oregon and Ellensburg, Washington is 330 miles, give or take a feather or two.

Both are Pacific Northwest college towns (University of Oregon and Central Washington University respectively).

marboro1

 

Mother Nature  lavishes rain on Eugene’s seemingly endless groves of Douglas fir trees and an evergreen landscape. Ellensburg is high desert and reminds one of “Marlboro Country” with its wide spaces, grazing bovine and of course, the county rodeo. That is no Extreme Bull.

Yes, this will indeed be my first rodeo.

As they say, “All good things must end.” Eras come to a close, while others are just beginning. New adventures are on the horizon.

For the author of Almost DailyBrett, there was a LaLaLand era, a Sacramento tenure, a Portland time, a Silicon Valley marathon, a lengthy stop in Eugene and soon it will be a new beginning in Ellensburg.

Many have literally spanned the globe in their life changes. Alas, for me it has been the three continental states that touch the Pacific, but nonetheless it has been a wild-at-times roller-coaster ride.

But for many, even modest change is something to be feared and dreaded. And yet these timid souls try to go sideways, even though that is really not an option.

Same Bed, Same TV, Same Beard, Same Pension and No License to Drive

“Don’t tell me it can’t be done. Show me how it can.” – Plaque in the office of former House Speaker Jim Wright

We all know them.

They always have an excuse. They are always ready with a rationalization. They always have something, anything wrong that will never, ever get better.

eeyore1

Sometimes they can’t get out of their own way. They prefer living at home, sleeping in the same bed and watching the same 21” standard-definition television set with the rabbit-ear antennas (slight exaggeration). Someone will not cut his beard or hair. Someone artistically gifted will not start his own business because he or she is locked into public sector golden handcuffs (e.g., public sector pension). And someone will not learn how to drive and therefore will not be able to compete for a better job and improve her or his life and the lives of impacted offspring.

Another year of “muddling through?” Are Food Stamps and disability payments far off? Is life reduced to running out the clock to the final inevitable day? Pass another PBR.

How many people do you know that are overworked, underpaid, under-appreciated, underutilized and under the gravitational pull of a bosshole? How many more are in a bad relationship, and they know they are in a bad relationship, but for some reason will not throw off their chains?

For far too many these desultory scenarios are exactly the case. But Jonathan Fields correctly points out that there is no sideways in life. Life applies “friction” in many ways … and some of the nastiest scrapes can be sudden and unpleasant.

Sometimes Change Cannot Be Controlled, But It Can Be Managed

Happiness does not come from a job. It comes from knowing what you truly value, and behaving in a way that’s consistent with those beliefs,”  — Michael Rowe, Host of “Dirty Jobs.”

Even for the successful, the achievers, the Type A personalities caca does indeed happen. A close family member may die. A hereditary disease may strike. You may simply be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Your organization may be acquired. You may come under the influence of a bosshole. The economy may go south. The list goes on-and-on-and-on.

Everyone wants to decide when she or he comes and goes, but many times that is not an option.

We cannot pretend change is not going to happen, but we need to accept that it will … and not always in a nice way.

As mentioned before in Almost DailyBrett, we need to manage or be managed. So how can we manage change?

Acceptance Mode. No more anger. No more denial. No more bargaining. No more depression. Let’s skip all of the above and get to acceptance. What is your plan for the future? What comes next? You know there will be a “next.”

Look to the Future. The past is gone. The present will soon be gone. What have you done? Where do you want to go? What do you need to do to reach this goal? Life is too frickin’ short. How can you improve your chances of success? Manage your future.

Change of Venue? Sometimes there are better opportunities over the horizon, in another town, in another state or maybe another country. Are you limiting your options because you will not even for a nanosecond consider a change of personal venue?

Don’t Hate, Celebrate. Don’t hold grudges. Instead of being jealous of achievers and wishing them Schadenfreude, learn from their successes. If a rising tide lifts all boats, how can your dingy become a yacht? There is a way.

tigger

Be positive. Growing up, Tigger was always more appealing than Eeyore. Show Speaker Wright and others exactly how it can be done. Be rational, but instead of merely defining the problem, what is the solution? How can your life and the lives of your loved ones change for the better

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize. There is always something new to learn. The reason for the unprecedented success of Silicon Valley is lifelong learning. Engineers (e.g., Tesla’s Elon Musk) are not afraid to fail. They are always trying to solve the latest and greatest puzzle before moving on to the next one. What will you learn today?

Every Stranger is a Friend You Have Not Met. There will be new people. There will be new experiences. Some will be better. Some will not. As the Realtors always say, “There will be tradeoffs.” Make change your friend. And yes, you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you just may find, you get what you need.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkFRwhJEOos

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Wright

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/10/25/prostate-cancer-a-piece-of-cake-compared-to-valley-fever/

http://books.google.com/books?id=OGoXa1Au0n8C&pg=PA49&lpg=PA49&dq=Speaker+Jim+Wright:+Don%27t+come+in+and+tell+me+how+you+can%27t;+tell+me+how+you+can&source

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%BCbler-Ross_model

http://toprightnews.com/?p=2872

 

 

 

The courage to stare someone in the eye and tell them something they do not want to hear is becoming an increasingly rare commodity in today’s society.

As Almost DailyBrett has commented in “Losing the Art of Verbal Confrontation,” digital technology has provided us all with the means to be analog cowards.

If you need to deliver some unpleasant news to a soon-to-be ex-boyfriend, ex-girlfriend, also-ran job seeker or one of the losing competitors for a RFP (Request for Proposal), then simply send an e-mail…or even more touching, deliver the news via a text.

Think of the beauty of this gutless approach, you don’t have to see the look of the recipient’s face or faces. You don’t have to hear the reaction. The transmission of unwelcome and uncomfortable news has never been easier.

When singer/songwriter Phil Collins decided to split with his second of three divorced wives, he had to compose a hard-copy message and feed it into a fax machine, and wait for electronic confirmation that the message had been delivered. How primitive.

collins

Today, we don’t have to worry about fibre-optic lines. We can dispatch the unwanted message via wireless technology with the aid of a handy satellite or two, but that doesn’t have to be the case.

What I am about to do is very un-male-like: Admit a romantic setback.

My policy at Almost DailyBrett is to omit the exact name of the person involved; in this case because she may be tad uneasy and maybe a smidge embarrassed, even though she has every reason to be proud. I will refer to her as Mizz “A.”

Over a  dinner last Sunday of grilled pesto chicken breast on a bed of linguine, steamed green beans and pinot gris, Mizz “A” told me that she had boiled down her romantic finalists to “Ron” and myself. I restrained the impulse to campaign for her vote, simply thanking Mizz “A” for her candor.

Three days later, she sent me an e-mail asking if I was available for drink after work. We met in downtown Eugene (or what passes for “downtown” in Eugene). She looked at me and said, “Let’s get a glass of wine (“wine” is a bad sign; “dinner” is a good sign).” My male intuition (not an oxymoron) turned out to be correct.

After some procedural small talk, she prefaced her remarks by saying, “This is not what you want to hear…” Ron had won the competition for her heart. Similar to Bert Parks and the “Miss America” contest, I was the first runner-up (translated: I was the first loser). My competition got the girl.

She expressed her sympathy to me. I replied that she was a “stand-up woman,” someone rare in our modern society. I told her that a phone call would have been sufficient; how it was miles better than the ubiquitous text or email. She didn’t even think that a phone call would have sufficed. Gee, there is a reason I liked this woman.

I asked, what were the deciding factors? She said there were two: First, Ron had expressed a desire to live overseas, something that has always interested Mizz “A.” I countered by reminding her of my receipt of the Zertifikät Deutsch from the Goethe Institut and how I always wanted to live in a Schloss, drinking schnapps and clicking zee heels in the Bavarian Alps. She also said that Mr. Ron was a very religious and spiritual man, and that was very important to her. Alas, that is not me…and that clearly separates the two final contenders.

Upon departing, I resisted the temptation to say to her that she could contact me if things do not work out with Mr. Ron. That statement in my humble opinion sounds weak and may be perceived that I am rooting against their relationship, which is not the case.

Looking back at this experience and venturing forward to the continuation of my post-marriage (I am a widower after 22 years of blissful matrimony) dating life — characterized by more activity than accomplishment — I know that at least one person exists out there who knows how to treat people right. She clearly follows the Golden Rule.

Sooner or later, we all have to deliver less-than-cheerful news. The rule that I humbly submit is the more that someone genuinely puts into a relationship, the search for a position, the quest for a project, the more they deserve a face-to-face delivery of your difficult news and an explanation of your decision. That may not be physically possible every time, which leaves the phone as a distant second best option (at least you can hear the reaction). E-mails and texts should never be used to deliver bad news to those who have invested considerable time, resources, emotion and effort. If you do, it says more about you (and your organization, if applicable) than the person or persons receiving the news.

One last point: If you are fearful of an inappropriate reaction to your eyeball-to-eyeball transmission of less than stellar news, then I would opine that you shouldn’t be in this “relationship” in the first place. Have to call me as I see em.

Editor’s note: Here are three recent Almost DailyBrett blog posts about the adventures of mid-life crisis dating and social media.

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/03/28/losing-the-art-of-verbal-confrontation/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/06/10/%e2%80%9cit%e2%80%99s-not-you-it%e2%80%99s-me-%e2%80%9d/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/04/06/unfriending-your-%e2%80%9cfriends%e2%80%9d/

 

 

 

The recession of a lifetime followed by the gradual, mostly jobless recovery has been particularly brutal on follicly challenged senior PR professionals, some who even remember JFK’s assassination being announced on school loud speakers and the Beatles on the “Ed Sullivan” show.

Please don’t ask, “Ed, who?”

The crippling downturn that prompted corporate and agency chieftains to cut back on SG&A expenses in the face of declining top lines and deteriorating bottom lines, prompted many displaced high-priced communicators to put out their own shingle.

And yes, there is a certain glamour associated with being your own boss, setting your own hours and commuting from the master suite to your home office or the local upscale coffee parlor with a laptop under your arm. And with it has come a directly related cottage industry of IT professionals charging three-figures per hour to keep home laptops, monitors and docking stations humming along.

There is also the nagging reality associated with incorporating the business, indemnifying the business, finding the business, servicing the business, invoicing the business and nagging the business to pay you…followed by quarterly payments to the IRS.

LinkedIn.com http://www.linkedin.com is loaded with oodles of individual practitioners with impressive corporate sounding names and LLPs, but how many will actually survive? How will they compete against each other, internal communications departments, boutique PR agencies, let alone the big multi-nationals such as Weber Shandwick, Fleishman Hillard, Edelman, Burson-Marsteller and Hill & Knowlton?

The answer is that some will ultimately thrive in an improving economy, but most will struggle to simply pay ze mortgage. This brings up another question: Is there another way of turning adversity into opportunity?

Two weeks ago, I took the GRE…the dreaded Graduate Records Examination http://www.ets.org/gre/. Why would I put myself through weeks of masochistic prep work to endure 3.5 hours of essays, critical readings and verbal/math multiple-guess questions? The answer is there is another way of setting your own course than starting your own business.

Personally, I am contemplating mentoring the next generations of strategic communicators. At least four of my colleagues are now teaching at USC, Santa Clara, Arizona State and Michigan State respectively. Why can’t I do the same?

One of them chose academics in part because as the political editor of a major metropolitan daily he grew weary of “having to layoff my friends.”

My PR career has spanned 28 years, including service in the public sector, two trade associations, one publicly traded technology company and an international public relations agency. The purpose of this recital is not to boast but to ask a vital question: What am I accomplishing if I extend this track record to 30 years? Or 32 years? Or even 40 years?

I have been accepted to both the University of Oregon Graduate School and the Graduate School of the UO School of Journalism and Communication http://www.jcomm.uoregon.edu/. A huge decision faces me around May 1 and that involves picking up stakes and moving my lounge act from Northern California to Eugene, Oregon in time for the first classes on September 27. The goal is to receive a master’s degree in “Communication and Society” and eventually to serve as an associate professor/instructor in strategic communications.

Certainly, I have been repeatedly warned about the corresponding loss of income and academic politics; how they eat their own (e.g. you can’t teach at the school in which you received your master’s degree). After years of state government and corporate backroom wheeling and dealing, a little academic politics sounds like more of the same just in a different locale.

We have all heard the homage that “Those who can’t, teach.” To those who want to attach that moniker to me, I simply say, “Bring it on.” More importantly, can senior communicators apply our energies, knowledge and experience to helping the next generations of strategic communicators in this rapidly changing digital age? And how many more would like to join me in this (hopefully) noble quest?

We may look back years from now and realize that the economic downturn (being charitable here) was just the kick in the-you-know-where that many of us needed. It may prompt us to do what we want to do rather than what someone else wants us to do.

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