Archive for February 2008

Can You Handle Risk? Take the Quiz!

February 16, 2008

Have you heard the expression “no pain, no gain”? In the entrepreneurial and investing world, the comparable phrase would be “no risk, no reward.” How you feel about sacrificing the time spent not making a cent and risking your money will drive much of your decision-making.

The risk-comfort scale extends from very conservative (you don’t want to risk losing a penny regardless of how little your money earns) to very aggressive (you’re willing to risk much of your money for the possibility that it will grow tremendously). As you might guess, most investors’ tolerance for risk falls somewhere in between. If you’re unsure of what your level of risk tolerance is, this quiz should help.

1. You win $300 in an office football pool. You:

A) spend it on groceries 

B) purchase lottery tickets

C) put it in a money market account

D) buy some stock

2. Two weeks after buying 100 shares of a $20 stock, the price jumps to over $30. You decide to:

A) buy more stock; it’s obviously a winner

B) sell it and take your profits

C) sell half to recoup some costs and hold the rest

D) sit tight and wait for it to advance even more

3. On days when the stock market jumps way up, you:

A) wish you had invested more

B) call your financial advisor and ask for recommendations

C) feel glad you’re not in the market because it fluctuates too much

D) pay little attention

4. You’re planning a vacation trip and can either lock in a fixed room-and-meals rate of $150 per day, or book stand-by and pay anywhere from $100 to $300 per day. You:

A) take the fixed-rate deal

B) talk to people who have been there about the availability of last-minute accommodations

C) book stand-by and also arrange vacation insurance because you’re leery of the tour operator

D) take your chances with stand-by.

5. The owner of your apartment building is converting the units to condominiums. You can buy your unit for $75,000 or an option on it for $15,000. (Units have recently sold for close to $100,000, and prices seem to be going up.) For financing, you’ll have to borrow the down payment and pay mortgage and condo fees higher than your present rent. You:

A) buy your unit

B) buy your unit and look for another to buy

C) sell the option and arrange to rent the unit yourself

D) sell the option and move out because you think the conversion will attract couples with small children.

6. You have been working three years for a rapidly growing company. As an executive, you are offered the option of buying up to 2% of company stock- $2,000 shares at $10 a share. Although the company is privately owned (its stock does not trade on the open market), its majority owner has made handsome profits selling three other businesses and intends to sell this one eventually. You:

A) purchase all the shares you can and tell the owner you would invest more if allowed

B) purchase all the shares

C) purchase half the shares

D) purchase a small amount of shares

7. You go to a casino for the first time. You choose to play:

A) quarter slot machines

B) $5 minimum-bet roulette

C) dollar slot machines

D) $25 minimum bet blackjack

8. You want to take someone out for a special dinner in a city that’s new to you. How do you pick a place?

A) read restaurant reviews in the local newspaper

B) ask co-workers if they know of a suitable place

C) call the only other person you know in this city who eats out a lot, but only recently moved there

D) visit the city sometime before your dinner to check out the restaurant yourself

9. The expression that best describes your lifestyle is:

A) no guts, no glory

B) just do it!

C) look before you leap

D) all good things come to those who wait

10. Your attitude toward money is best described as:

A) a dollar saved is a dollar earned

B) you’ve got to spend money to make money

C) cash and carry only

D) whenever possible, use other people’s money


1. A: 1 B: 4 C: 2 D: 3

2. A: 4 B: 1 C: 3 D: 2


3. A: 3 B: 4 C: 2 D: 1


4. A: 2 B: 3 C: 1 D: 4


5. A: 3 B: 4 C: 2 D: 1


6. A: 4 B: 3 C: 2 D: 1


7. A: 1 B: 3 C: 2 D: 4

8. A: 2 B: 3 C: 4 D: 1

9. A: 4 B: 3 C: 2 D: 1

10.A: 2 B: 3 C: 1 D: 4

What your total score indicates:

  • 10-17: You’re not willing to take chances with your money, even though t means you can’t make big gains.

  • 18-24: You’re semi-conservative, willing to take a small chance with enough information.

  • 25-32: You’re semi-aggressive, wiling to take chances if you think the odds of earning more are in your favor.

  • 33-40: You’re aggressive, looking for every opportunity to make your money grow, even though in some cases the odds may be quite long. You view money as a tool to make more money.

How did you do? The majority of those who take the test fall under the 25-32 point category. As I’ve noted earlier, the more risk involved in any undertaking, the more reward given for taking that additional risk.


Remember, only invest as much money in a risky venture as you can afford to lose. It feels great when you see your money sky rocket after putting your funds in an investment that isn’t as safe as a bond or treasury bill, but don’t bank on making 30% every week. If you started your business, and it’s doing well financially within the first year, congratulations! But remember to stay consistent; don’t leave a business on autopilot and hope that it generates consistent returns without doing anything.


Diversify, and don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Knowledge is power, so do your research thoroughly. Invest Wisely.


In College? Don’t Bore Yourself, Get Involved!

February 8, 2008

Depending on who you are and what college you are attending, the “College Experience” people talk about can either be a miserable experience or an unforgettable one. Someone once told me, “Don’t blink because high school will be the best four years of your life, and then it’s all work from there.” When I was in high school I heard both ends of the story. When I asked people if they enjoyed college, some said they hated it and some loved it. I wondered why the people who hated college despised it so much. They’d tell me how difficult the curriculum was, and that it would only get tougher. The enthusiastic ones loved it because they enjoyed the parties and friends they met. Those responses made me feel both concerned yet excited at the same time.

When I finally went to Cal Poly Pomona that fall, I saw what everyone was talking about. I had fun my first quarter in college. I would go to parties, meet new people, and everyone was just down to do anything. Little did I know this would only be short-lived. My winter quarter wasn’t as fun as fall, and neither was spring. I didn’t understand why. I found that all the people who I hung out with found where they wanted to be. Many enjoyed being involved in their major, others pledged for fraternities and sororities, and some were kicked out of college because they partied too hard. I wasn’t left with many options. The very next year was the same. I decided to get involved in a Filipino organization on campus, but they only met up on Thursdays, and their events conflicted with my schedule frequently. I knew I needed more.

Two years later, I decided to pledge for the fraternity Zeta Phi Rho. I made more than just friends, I made brothers. Up to this day I still keep in contact with the fraternity. After those short ten weeks of pledging they became my friends for life. Not to mention all of the benefits that came with it (I’ll get to those benefits in a second). Getting involved on campus was the most important and BEST decision I probably have ever made in my life. Now, if a high schooler ever came up to me and asked how college was, I’d say that it was 10 times better than high school. The difference with me is that unlike the people I talked to about college, I would tell them exactly what to do to keep college fun: GET INVOLVED!I highly doubt you are looking for a miserable college experience. If you are still in college, it’s never too late. Here are the benefits that go along with getting involved on campus:

  • Friends– Everyone needs friends. You’d be boring and be bored without any. You can’t go to a club or a bar by yourself. I mean you can, but imagine telling someone that you came alone and knowing down inside that you have no one. It sucks. Having friends allows you to experience things with other people than yourself. Who knows, a person in your circle of friends might be your future spouse.
  • Networking– This is what I love about being involved. Many of my fraternity brothers have found their first jobs after college through other people. Somehow, some person knows some guy who knows a manager that is looking to hire new college graduates. The advantage of finding a company to work for after college increases exponentially since you are exposed to more people. Not only that, someone you know will probably work at a McDonald’s or Verizon Wireless store and give you some discounts :-).
  • Exposure– Do you have a talent? If you can sing, dance, play an instrument, or write, then you are in a class separated from everyone else. What does that mean? Someone’s going to find you somehow. Someone is going to see you. You’re chances of being noticed goes far beyond everyone else’s, and maybe someone will sponsor you. You’ve got to get involved to find out.
  • Memories– No one wants to receive their degree, only to look back with regrets and wishes they should have fulfilled. I never wanted to tell someone that college sucked. It’s as if those who hated college started the real world four years too early. I’d want to party it up and have fun before I knew I had to buckle down and start working.
  • Advantage in the Real World– Employers aren’t just looking for smart brainiacs. Employers look for well-rounded individuals who can deliver in all aspects to the company. The more you keep your grades up and show that you were involved, the higher your chances are in getting that position over everyone else.

If you are scared that you won’t have any fun in college based on what everyone else is saying, don’t be. It’s fun and exciting. You just need to connect with others, and others will do the same. Throw yourself out there and pretty soon you’ll get a response. Don’t make your college experience a bad one when it doesn’t have to be. Get out there and do something! 

It’s Not About You, It’s About Them

February 8, 2008

There are interesting statistics out there. It has been said that 99% of blogs do not make it big. 99%! Kind of discouraging if you are looking into blogging for income. It has also been said 9 out of 10 businesses fail the first time. With all these statistics, no wonder people flee to “security” by staying at their day job, or don’t even dream of starting their own business.

I could list a number of ways of why businesses and blogs fail, but I wanted to concentrate on this subject more because I believe this reason is most important. Why do too many blogs fail all the time? It’s because of what you are saying. If you create a niche blog that is way too specific, only X amount of people can relate to it. That’s true, but let’s look into this from a different approach.

No one is interested in you. No one cares. The typical person doesn’t wake up each morning at 7am, goes online, searches for a random blog, and reads about another person’s life. WHAT A WASTE OF TIME! What do I care about your dog Spot in the southern part of Ireland? I’d rather search for a random piece of news in the world that doesn’t affect me. Unless that dog can speak 12 different languages, or if the website gives someone $5 each time they click on it, no one will care. You are just a regular civilian. You need to write about topics no one will find anywhere else. What topics should you write about? It should be balanced. Make sure that you not only create a blog that you love talking about, but also one that many people can relate to. I mean look at this article, you’re reading it aren’t YOU? Don’t the topics I cover relate to YOU? I’m helping YOU aren’t I? Don’t YOU like it? I do, and so do YOU. Win-Win situation.

Now let’s get down to business. A business shouldn’t be created solely because you like it and you think it’s going to work. It’s all about the customer. You are serving them, not the other way around. Income is the reward you receive when one is satisfied by how you have served them. No one is going to pay you so that you can travel to Cancun, Mexico (unless you bring them along). When picking a business, think broad. What does everyone need? What do people need each day? My dad created a home healthcare business in 1997 and a tax consulting firm in 2004. Why? He told me, “There’s two things people can’t escape in this life: Death and Taxes.” Sure it was a joke, but it’s true. Who doesn’t file taxes? And no one escapes this life alive. Concentrate on what people need most, and like blogging, love to do it.

Don’t Stress Over Your To-Do List

February 8, 2008

Breathe slowly. Calm down and relax. No one’s going to hurt you. I know you feel a bit stressed out, but not to worry. Here are some pointers:

Write it down.

I would advise investing in a PDA phone, pocket planner, or a bulletin board at home. Write down the due date for each task for the whole week. Don’t look at it from a monthly or yearly view point, it will only stress you even more. Take it one step at a time. Write down what must be done, and the time frame in which you will be working on them. This will give you a bird’s eye view of the week, and will allow you to position yourself to work on stuff when you have gaps in your schedule. Not only that, you really don’t want to forget!

Write down MORE!

Although this may sound contradictory, this method allows you to feel a sense of completion. For example, let’s say that I have to do an oil change on my sister’s car, practice a sophisticated piano piece by Bach, and cook dinner. If these things were a bit difficult for you, do something that will allow you to feel like you are almost done with your obligations. Write down the simple stuff. If I had three major things to do, I’d double or triple the things on my list for the day. This would include picking up my sister from volleyball practice, walking the dog, depositing checks at the bank, checking e-mail, feeding the fish, clipping toenails, calling the doctor to set up an appoinment, eating, and so on. Even though they may not count toward what I really need to do immediately, the motion of crossing it off your list feels so good. You have finished something, and it’s time to advance and move forward.

Alarm your mind.

Are you forgetful? There’s always that ONE thing we forgot to do. This is where creativity kicks in. You can do anything you want in order to remember every single duty of yours. Here are some examples. If you have 5 things, remember that number and don’t forget it. You can also make acronyms. When others ask you what your plans are, say that you have to WIN. WIN could be Water the lawn, Ice down your sore back, and Negotiate a better price with the real estate agent. Maybe Walk the iguana, Improve on your reading skills, and Name your baby that will be due in the next two weeks. Also, simply set up an alarm on your phone or computer. For an alarm on your computer, go to and download digital Post-It notes so that you can get see a big yellow Post-It with all your To-Do’s on your desktop.

Take these steps to get those tasks out of your way. The feeling of accomplishing a goal feels so good once it is done. Remember this saying next time you feel overwhelmed: How do you eat an Elephant? One bite at a time.

4 Ways to Better Speaking

February 7, 2008

There’s been a point in time where we’ve said something of value, yet the person receiving the message took it the wrong way. It’s all about how you present yourself that will make the difference. The way you regurgitate your thoughts into words can make or break the decision of an employer to hire you, or the way a person views you for the first time. Here are four ways that will help you:

If you must talk about your weaknesses, mention steps you’ve taken to deal with the difficulties.

You’re nervous. Your hands are getting clammy. You don’t want Mr. or Ms. Employer to ask the dreaded question: “What would you say are some of your weaknesses?” The worst way to approach this is to be completely blunt about it. Don’t just give them the answer of “I tend to get lazy” or “I can be late at times”. You will just incriminate yourself and the chances of getting your dream job will seem like a longshot. What should you do? Tell them the truth, but fire back immediately with your plan of action. “Mr. Employer, i’ve faced the difficulty of time management and organization in the past, but I have improved the setback through the use of pocket organizers, planners….” This will show the employer that you aren’t being lazy about it, but actually putting some sort of effort to better yourself.

Constructive Criticism

When you have something to say, be nice. Make sure the words that come out of your mouth contain value. Let’s say my girl cousin comes up to me and says, “I really don’t think I look good today…do I?” What will your response be? If you agree with what she’s saying, don’t just say “Yes”. She’s looking for more, maybe to be comforted and told that it’s okay to not look so dazzling. Rather than hurting her feelings say, “You don’t look your best, but it’s cool, don’t even worry about it! We all have those days.” Then after you can say something like, “We’re just going to the park to play basketball it’s not like anyone cares.” Simply affirming that you agree with her will hurt her feelings. It will seem as if you feel strongly about her plain looks even if you say yes the nicest way possible. You DO believe she doesn’t look her best, but you’ve said it with such comforting words that her confidence and self-esteem will only increase because she knows she has support.

Never say NO

“No T.V.! No Radio! No Computer! Go back and do your homework! Homework is first before anything!” Imagine your mom saying that to you after you come home after a long day of elementary school. It only made me want to bend the rules even more and find a way to do the things I wanted with no interruption. I hated hearing “No!” and being put down. It felt like I was mentally spanked in the behind. Now when my dad came home, he would sometimes catch me and take me aside. “Oliver, you can watch T.V. until the episode is over, then go back and do your homework.” I would reply, “But I want to watch T.V. because my favorite show is going on soon.” My dad would then say, “Okay that’s fine. You can watch T.V. whenever you want, but you have to finish your homework first and then you can watch, okay?” Did you see the difference between the two? The second example was much more encouraging. The incentive was freedom, and in order to get there my only obstacle was homework. What do you think I did? I did my homework. See how easy that was? When the opportunity arises, try that.

 Keep your cool.

It was January 5th 2003. I was on a plane from Rome, Italy to Los Angeles. We were above the Atlantic Ocean until turbulence hit. All of us passengers felt the plane go up and down as if some big baby took our plane and shook it with its hands. I tried to sleep through it until 20 minutes later when I heard the capatin’s voice over the speaker. He told us that due to the turbulence the left engine has stopped working, but not to worry because we are at cruising altitude and will be redirected to the Reykjavik, Iceland airport. We didn’t notice any engine failure, and we landed safely in Iceland. Imagine the captain speaking in a loud voice “Attention everyone! We are still over the Atlantic and the left engine failed on us! We hope we can make it to another airport. Please stay in your seats!” I don’t think I want to hear that he “hopes” to make it. We later found out that the left engine caught on fire inside, but the plane shot chemicals inside to contain the flame. If you are tempted to say something that isn’t that devastating (even though that flame was kinda serious), or can be gone without being said, then don’t speak. Never create doubts in others’ minds that don’t even exist. You just dig a deeper hole for yourself. Talk calmly, but get the point across.

Remember when you attempt these suggestions, Perfect Practice Makes Perfect.

Sew Up the Hole in Your Pocket

February 7, 2008

Do you wonder why you are always broke? Are you barely making it? Are you always asking for money for basic necessities?

There are inevitable bills that you have to pay each month, so why are you still hurting financially? If you answered yes to any of the first three questions then there is something you are ignoring that you must take care of. You must recognize where the financial bleeding is coming from. I’ll give you a hint: It comes from your pocket and it leaks out money. It’s called consumer debt, and you will be cursed with this burden until you decided to do something about it.

Have you seen the I Love Lucy episode where Lucy and Ethel are hired to wrap individual chocolates for their new jobs? The chocolate drops go one by one down a conveyor belt, and they wrap the chocolate in foil before it goes through to the other side. The girls do well until the manager speeds up the belt to the point where Lucy and Ethel cannot keep up. They end up dropping chocolate, allowing chocolate to pass through the belt without it being wrapped, and devouring them to avoid being fired.

Imagine you and your spouse are Lucy and Ethel. You have two sources of income, yourselves. Your own man power is what allows you to wrap the chocolate (pay the bills). Once you buy your dream car, send your kids to school, dine at the best places in town, and take vacations, the belt (expenses) moves at a faster rate. Are you sure you can keep up the pace? If you are already struggling then you’ll have to work overtime hours. You’re going to stress yourself to death. So what should you do?

Budget. Make a list of all assets and expenses for each week, month, and year. Be generous when evaluating expenses. If you know it’ll cost you $100.00 a week for groceries, write down $120.00 as a cushion. Even if you don’t spend that much you want to create an allowance for emergency, and it will feel better when you actually see some money left over.

Buy the alternative. Do you buy filet magnon? Consider rib-eye. Better yet, order a grilled chicken salad. It will fill you up the same way, it’s a lot healthier, and a whole lot cheaper. Go out on “cheap dates”. Take walks on the beach, have a picnic at a park, go to a museum, etc. If you don’t have to buy something, don’t. At the grocery store, buy the store-brand mouthwash rather than Scope or Listerine. Buying things at a fraction of the cost add up. As I’ve said before: Little things add up to big things!

Make more money. Don’t think that it’s not possible. Invest in stocks, mutual funds, or whatever will allow you to earn capital. Start your own business. Invest in real estate. The list goes on and on. If you take a look at the rich, they never use their own man power. They probably have a conveyor belt going three times faster than yours. They can keep up with the belt and still have a surplus because they have 10 machines on the assembly line instead of themselves. What kind of machines you ask? Stocks, real estate investments, businesses, and other streams of income. Their money works hard for them so they don’t have to. Don’t pay a visit to a local casino or play the lottery to solve your long term needs.

Try these methods and I guarantee that you’ll see more money left in your wallet at the end of the month, and you’ll live much happier.  

Stop Putting Things Off Until the Last Minute

February 5, 2008

We all put things off at some point in our lives; it’s a part of our human nature. But have you ever counted the times that you’ve procrastinated until time expired? You’ll be amazed at how much opportunity is lost if each little thing put off is recorded.

Do this: Cut out a blank piece of paper the size of a business card. On the top write a brand new task that needs to be done in the near future. Write the time frame it must be completed in on the upper left hand corner, and rate the difficulty on a scale from the 1 to 5 (5 being the most difficult) on the upper right hand corner. Every time you fail to use an open spot on your schedule to work on your undertaking, place a tally mark on the piece of paper. Keep this in your wallet or purse. This will help you to understand how much you REALLY do procrastinate.

I had to study for my finance test that was coming up in two weeks. I rated the difficulty a 3.5 and wrote that I had 9 days to study. I only ended up receiving an 85% on the test, and I wrote 8 tally marks on my paper. Those 8 missed opportunities could have been used to get me an A on the test.

Don’t lie to yourself when you are evaluating, you will only be hurting yourself. You cannot improve on your weakness when you try to ignore your faults all the time. Be true to yourself and you’ll be able to take better control of your life. When you evaluate your tasks, always compare similar difficulties and time frames. If you slack off on an average of 10 times for a certain obligation, bring it down to 9 or 8. Go at a steady pace, but keep on improving. You’ll feel better about yourself for knocking off those annoying chores that linger around, and you will have more time on your hands.