Sunday, December 30, 2012

A True Christmas Story

This the last post of the year and a great way to close the year 2012. During the first week of January I will write about some 2013 Year´s Resolutions that could be accomplished. Meanwhile Let´s all enjoy the end of the Year with the last of our Christmas tales series.
Here is a fairly well known tale. I think it is worth re-telling. It conveys a valuable message; No matter how tough things are, don't give up. You just don't know what lies around the corner.....!


Robert May was a short man, barely five feet in height. He was born in the early part of the last century, that is to say, the nineteen hundreds.

Bullied at school, he was ridiculed and humiliated by other children because he was smaller than other boys of the same age. Even as he grew up, he was often mistaken for someone’s little brother.

When he left college he became employed as a copywriter with Montgomery Ward, the big Chicago mail order house. He married and in due course, his wife presented him with a daughter. Then when his little daughter was two years old, tragedy struck; his wife was diagnosed with a debilitating disease. She became bedridden and remained so until she died. Nearly everything he earned went on medication and doctor’s bills. Money was short and life was hard.

One evening in early December of 1938 and two years into his wife’s illness, his four-year-old daughter climbed onto his knee and asked, “Daddy, why isn’t Mummy like everybody else’s mummy?” It was a simple question, asked with childlike curiosity. But it struck a personal chord with Robert May.

His mind flashed back to his own childhood. He had often posed a similar question, “Why can’t I be tall, like the other kids?” The stigma attached to those who are different is hard to bear. Groping for something to say to give comfort to his daughter, he began to tell her a story. It was about someone else who was different, ridiculed, humiliated and excluded because of the difference.

Bob told the story in a humorous way, making it up as he went along; in the way that many fathers often do. His daughter laughed, giggled and clapped her hands as the misfit finally triumphed at the end. She then made him start all over again from the beginning and every night after that he had to repeat the story before she would go to sleep.

Because he had no money for fancy presents, Robert decided that he would put the story into book form. He had some artistic talent and he created illustrations. This was to be his daughter’s Christmas present. The book of the story that she loved so much. He converted the story into a poem.

On the night before Christmas Eve, he was persuaded to attend his office Christmas Party. He took the poem along and showed it to a colleague. The colleague was impressed and insisted that Robert read his poem aloud to everyone else at the party. Somewhat embarrassed by the attention, he took the small hand written volume from his pocket and began to read. At first the noisy group listened in laughter and amusement. But then became silent and after he finished, they broke into spontaneous applause.

Later, and feeling quite pleased with himself, he went home, wrapped the book in Christmas wrapping and placed it under the modest Christmas tree. To say that his daughter was pleased with her present would be an understatement. She loved it!

When Robert returned to work after the Holiday, he was summoned to the office of his head of department. He wanted to talk to Bob about his poem. It seemed that word had got out about his reading at the Christmas party. The Head of Marketing was looking for a promotional tool and wondered if Robert would be interested in having his poem published.

The following year, 1939, printed copies of the book were given to every child who visited the department stores of Montgomery Ward and it eventually became an international best seller, making Robert a rich man. His wife had unfortunately died during this time, but he was able to move from the small apartment and buy a big house. He was at last able to provide handsomely for his growing daughter.

The story is not quite over. In 1947, songwriter Johnny Marks used the theme of Robert’s poem for a song. He showed the song to a famous film star of the day, Gene Autry, ‘The Singing Cowboy’. Autry recorded the song and it became a world-wide number one hit. You may just remember it. The first line goes....”Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer had a very shiny nose.....!”

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Gold Wrapping Paper worth Millions

Let it snow let it snow let it snow let the snowball grow until we fulfill our dreams, after the traditional Christmas eve celebration I feel that the search of one Million Euros in less than 5 years is coming to an end, just like this 2012 which gave us great pleasures.

 Here it is… the second of our 3 Christmas tales just to keep the Spirit up and Thank for all that we already have. Enjoy!!!
Once upon a time, there was a man who worked very hard just to keep food on the table for his family. This particular year a few days before Christmas, he punished his little five-year-old daughter after learning that she had used up the family's only roll of expensive gold wrapping paper.

As money was tight, he became even more upset when on Christmas Eve he saw that the child had used all of the expensive gold paper to decorate one shoebox she had put under the Christmas tree. He also was concerned about where she had gotten money to buy what was in the shoebox.

Nevertheless, the next morning the little girl, filled with excitement, brought the gift box to her father and said, "This is for you, Daddy!"

As he opened the box, the father was embarrassed by his earlier overreaction, now regretting how he had punished her.

But when he opened the shoebox, he found it was empty and again his anger flared. "Don't you know, young lady," he said harshly, "when you give someone a present, there's supposed to be something inside the package!"

The little girl looked up at him with sad tears rolling from her eyes and whispered: "Daddy, it's not empty. I blew kisses into it until it was all full."

The father was crushed. He fell on his knees and put his arms around his precious little girl. He begged her to forgive him for his unnecessary anger.

An accident took the life of the child only a short time later. It is told that the father kept this little gold box by his bed for all the years of his life. Whenever he was discouraged or faced difficult problems, he would open the box, take out an imaginary kiss, and remember the love of this beautiful child who had put it there. 

In a very real sense, each of us has been given an invisible golden box filled with unconditional love and kisses from our children, family, friends and God. There is no more precious possession anyone could hold. Enjoy these two versions of JOY!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

From homeless to Millionaire

Now that we are all experiencing the quiet calm of December, with all the Christmas spirits flowing all around, and with the ideal of 1 Million euros in less than 5 years, I have decided to write 3 Inspiring Christmas tales to end the year 2012 a year that increased our Investments in about 17% that gave me 17 more business partners and allowed my family to drive a nice new car... and this is just the beginning 2013 will be a Magical year I can already feel it. 

So the first of my Christmas tales is related to Chris Gardner  a former homeless man turned millionaire — Gardner often remembers the train station bathroom where he once slept a quarter century ago. 
Often he is overcome with memories of teaching his 2-year-old son to never, ever open the locked bathroom door, no matter how hard someone pounded on the other side. 

It didn't matter that he now had three homes — one a condo in New York's Trump Tower — or that he'd gone from selling his own blood to buying Michael Jordan's car.

"He had to get out of there," 

The story of how the 52-year-old Gardner did just that, climbed out of homelessness and became a Millionaire stockbroker with his own 15-employee Chicago firm, was turned into a motion picture, a few years ago. It’s also the subject of Gardner’s own book, “The Pursuit of Happyness.” The unique spelling of “happiness” is intentional.

Even in the realm of rags-to-riches tales, Gardner's story is unique. Take, for example, the events that led to his descent into homelessness.

A medical supplies salesman barely making enough money to support his girlfriend and baby, Gardner had one of those Hollywood moments in a San Francisco parking lot in 1981 when he spotted a man looking for a place to park his red Ferrari.

"He said to him, 'You can have my (parking) place but I've got to ask you two questions. What do you do and how do you do it?'" recalled Gardner.

The man was a stockbroker. Gardner didn't know a single stockbroker or even what one did. But the man said he made $80,000 a month — $50,000 more than Gardner made a year.

Gardner found a brokerage firm willing to hire him and quit his job. But when he showed up for work he learned the guy who'd hired him had been fired. Gardner's job was gone.

Then, days before a scheduled interview with Dean Witter, a loud fight with his girlfriend brought the police to his door. The next thing Gardner knew they were asking him for $1,200 to clear up some unpaid parking tickets.

They may as well have asked for $12 million. Gardner spent 10 days in jail.

When he was released, his girlfriend and son were gone. He had no money, no home and the only clothes he had for his job interview the next day were the ones he wore to jail.

How was he going to explain showing up wearing jeans and paint-splattered Adidas shoes?

"I couldn't think of nothing that could top the truth," he said. He went with that and got the job.

A few months later came a knock on the door of the boarding house where he was staying.

"It's my ex and, guess what, she doesn't want the baby any more, here." he said. "The boarding house does not allow children. That's how we became homeless."

Some nights they stayed in a $25-a-night hotel, a park or under his desk at work. And a few nights were spent in an Oakland Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station.

"I had to teach my little boy how to play a game and the game is called SHHHH," he said. "That means no matter what anybody says on the other side of that door, no matter how much noise they make or what they threaten, we ain't here, OK?"

Finally, they moved into a homeless hotel in San Francisco, run by Glide Memorial United Methodist Church.

"There were no keys, so every day you take everything with you," said Gardner. "For a year, I'd take my son, his stroller, a big duffel bag with all his clothes in it, my briefcase, an umbrella, the biggest bag of Pampers in the world, one suit on my back and one suit in a hanging bag and we'd hit it every day."
When it rained, he covered the stroller with plastic sheets he'd picked up from dry cleaners.
Gardner told his co-workers nothing.

He also distinguished himself from others who turned to Glide for food and shelter.

"If you saw a man with a child, that was rare, incredibly rare," said the Rev. Cecil Williams, Glide's pastor. "I remember discussions about him, about how that man really loves that boy because he won't let him get away from him, he won't push him aside."

Starting from scratch 

Day care took a huge chunk of his meager stockbroker trainee salary, and it took Gardner about a year to save enough to move himself and his son into their own home. From there, his his career blossomed, and in 1987 he opened his own firm in Chicago.

Today, signs of his success are everywhere, starting with an office that includes a gleaming desk made of a DC-10 tail wing, African art work, boxing gloves and photographs autographed by Muhammad Ali. Sharing space with pictures of his adult son and daughter are photographs of Gardner with Nelson Mandela, and a vase full of dirt that Gardner brought from Mandela's yard after visiting the former South Africa president.
He no longer has the Ferrari he bought from Jordan.

Making a difference 

Gardner, who never went to college, has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to education, writing checks for as much as $25,000 to teachers, janitors, bus drivers and others who work at schools.
Gardner is focusing much of his attention now on South Africa, trying to persuade major investors to invest $1 billion there — an effort praised by South African officials.
"In the current state of our economy, creating an investment fund is critical," said Yusuf Omar, South African Consul General in Chicago, who recently stopped by Gardner's office.

For Gardner, helping South Africans pull themselves up makes perfect sense.
"Everything I've learned working on Wall Street, 25 years, to be able to make a difference in the lives of a lot of people and we all make money, it (doesn't) get any better than that," he said.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Zackariya: Travel Is Key to Growth & The billions on the travel Industry

Now that Christmas is just around the corner and on the intense search of 1 Million Euros in less than 5 years, welcome to my journey,  I find myself packing for a weekend retreat on the Finnish forest. I ´m  pleased to announce a guest post article By: Sacha Zackariya, CEO, ChangeGroup and CNBC-YPO Chief Executive Network Member.
The United States of America – which has the world's biggest economy with a GDP of about $15 trillion - is now showing tentative signs of a turnaround. This is reflected in the growth of the labor market with stabilizing house prices and increasing consumer confidence. Hopefully, the green shoots of recovery are finally sprouting. 
Not surprisingly, overseas investment bodies are moving back after retreating during the financial crisis. A large proportion of U.S. foreign direct investment (FDI) comes from European countries - which can partially be attributed to the flight of capital from the debt ridden, shaky economies of Europe. Despite competition from rising emerging economies such as China, there is a strong belief among investors that the worsening Eurozone crisis could make the U.S. a safe haven, thus adding further fuel to U.S. recovery.
One of the sectors showing remarkable growth in the U.S. is the tourism industry. My company, ChangeGroup, is a provider of financial services to the international traveler and is thus strongly linked to the growth of the travel and tourism industry. During recent years, we have supported a big success factor in the U.S. economy: International inward tourism. We have opened a range of new ultra-prime, currency exchange shops in Manhattan, committing several million dollars and recruiting many new employees. Most importantly, our branches allow international tourists and visitors to change their holiday money, worth tens of millions U.S. dollars, into currency to be spent in local stores.
Our U.K based travel money online service has seen a dramatic surge in the demand to exchange pounds to dollars. In order to cater to the increased number of tourists, the hotel industry is rapidly expanding with 50 new hotels set to open in New York City alone by 2013. The Australian mall operator, Westfield, has signed a $ 1.25 billion deal to lease retail space at the new World Trade Center in 2015. The U.S. government has also taken many initiatives to promote tourism, creating "Brand USA" – a public-private partnership - to market the U.S. as a leading global tourist destination.
Brand USA reports travel to the U.S. from emerging economies, such as Brazil, China and India, is up 110% during the 10-year period leading up to 2010, resulting in nearly $15 billion in export revenue. Initiatives proposed by the U.S. government to relax visa rules and streamline the process for tourists would further positively impact this growth.
According to the U.S. Travel Association, the United States travel and tourism industry was one of the largest employers in 2011, supporting 14.4 million jobs and generating $194.6 billion in payroll. Job growth in the travel industry was 84% faster than in the rest of the economy between March 2010 and July 2011. One out of every eight jobs depends on this sector. And it has been estimated that each U.S. household would need to pay $1,055 more in taxes without the tax revenue generated by tourism and travel.
If fully exploited, the travel sector could efficiently power the economic recovery of the United States and further strengthen its position as a global economic powerhouse.

Sacha Zackariya is CEO of the travel money and international payments companyChangeGroup.