The Wasted Wealth of Pro Athletes

 

 • By the time they have been retired for two years, 78% of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress because of joblessness or divorce.

Wow!  This is some kind of story.  I knew that many athletes lose a lot of their loot on silly things.  But I had no idea it was at this rate.

I think that many athletes are so focused on their careers, that they allow others to do their decision making for them. 

I am reminded of how Earvin “Magic” Johnson got into business years ago.  He knew nothing about business but knew he wanted to be as successful if not more successful as he was during his NBA playing days. 

Instead of being a knucklehead trying to play ball with the big boys of the business world, he humbled himself and sought being mentored by more than a few very successful businessmen who had a track record.  He specifically made it clear that he didn’t want to be the front man for anyone.  He wanted to learn how they made decisions so that he could make his own when the time came. 

The proof is the pudding. 

Magic waited till his playing days were pretty much over before he really got heavily involved in the business world so he could do his due diligence.   One can read Oscar De La Hoya’s book where he talks in great detail of how he’s worked with the best to be mentored into the business world.  It’s sad to hear how so many other athletes in 2009 still waste their wealth and do not learn from these examples. 

The truth that they don’t get is that they have to work even harder in the business world than they did on their athletic gifts.  This is mostly because they are not familiar with how the game of business is played nor their ever changing rules of engagement. 

Oprah said it best.  “Sign your own checks.”  But hell you’ll still sign anything someone else tells you if you don’t know any better.

I understand how most are confused and frustrated with the learning curve.  But as the saying goes, “if you think education cost, try ignorance.”

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BB&G’s Financial Plan for the Recession and Beyond

Much has been said about the recession.  I like most Americans have been affected by the change in the financial climate.  Post being laid off at a company after 11 years of successful performance, I managed to keep up with all of my bills for almost a year by way of six months of unemployment checks and officiating every basketball game available to me in the states of Illinois and Missouri.  I mean I had to hustle and make it happen.  Eventually some things fell off and I had to make some major decision in terms of starting over.  But I’m not discouraged.

If anything, what I am most encouraged about is the confirmation of what I already knew in the first place.  That now more than ever the best thing one can do in terms of securing activity and opportunities in the future is to find out what his/her dream is and to do it.  There is no getting around it.  For decades now the direction and growth of big business has influenced people to get on board their trains.  If the industry was saying that there would be more positions available in information technology for instance, people would flock towards learning those skills to try to get a spot.  The name of the game was getting hooked up with one of these companies so one could gain a steady flow of income, job security and some benefits.  It made sense in terms of primal survival.  But at the same time, it was a Trojan horse in reality because as we can see now that regardless of the qualifications there are a lot more people than positions available within the job market.  If you managed to get in someplace and obtained the right stock options like those people from Microsoft for instance, then you got over.  But if you are sitting there with a degree or skill set that there is not a demand for, you’re starting all over again.  

When Barack Obama became president, he sent the word out that as Americans we needed to step our games up.  And I believe that wholeheartedly.  I mean let’s be honest.  As the leading nation of the free world we became arrogant, fat, and overloaded on self indulgent pleasure.  Too many of us only cared about getting more stuff.  And that only last for so long.  Real living is solving problems and overcoming challenges.  Real living is touching lives and helping others.  Pleasure seeking is a solo project and the benefits are only material.  What made Americans and America great was the belief in ideals, the innovation of imagination and the culture of creativity.  Sadly we lost all of that keeping up with the Jones’ and following a cookie cutter method of career focus.  I believe as a nation we have to get back to our core creative values – and fast! 

This is not to say that there is not a place for big business.  If it were not for big business, I would not have access to a computer or enjoy some of life’s conveniences like my IPOD.  Financial institutions, car companies etc. are functional towards a vibrant economic society in that sense.  There will always be a certain amount of positions needed for such companies.  What I am saying however, is that you may be a Boomer or close and your dad worked for GM for 30 years and put you through college. Great!  But those days are over.  Historically we had a recession and then a renaissance.  That renaissance consisted of invention and ingenuity.  We created things, built things, and use those ideas to create opportunities for others.  We sang, danced, wrote poetry, acted and played music.  We delved into the creativity within our imaginations and created work that is lasting till this day. This is what it’s going to take to trigger resurgence into our psyche first which will in turn positively uplift the economy.

This is precisely the way I raise my children to think.  I have a son who created his own comic strip.  He’s been working on it for as long as I remember.  I have boxes of them stored away while he works on new story and character developments.  He does it strictly for the love of the comic and doesn’t get a dime for his work.  Do you think I’m sitting there telling him that he should only focus on his formal education at school, go to college and get a business degree so he can be marketable?  Heck no!  I tell him that his stories are wonderful.  (And they are.  He has a real mind for fantasy… and I know there is a market for fantasy.)  I tell him how I see his characters and offer encouragement and ideas.  He knows full and well how much I value his formal education.  He knows that settling for anything less than his best efforts in school is cheating himself and that I would not approve of wasting such opportunities.  He may even get a business degree one day in order to learn something about marketing his product.  But the issue is working the system to benefit his dreams.  Not bowing to the system and aborting them.

My other son wanted to be an actor.  I showed him movies of the best actors so he could understand the technique of being a believable actor.  I encouraged him to do the Shakespeare that was being performed in school.  Now he’s into the guitar and it seems to really spark his interest.  From what I have heard so far he has an ear for music.  Well while demanding that his formal education is valued, because it’s part of the basics of functioning, I encourage him to value and respect the instrument and to give it all he’s got.  Who says he can’t be as successful as any of the other guitarist I love listening to now.   Why not?  No way would I encourage him to try to fit into a box of a corporate structure that could out source his job to India before he even gets it.

The point here is not to hate on any career choice.  The point is that we should be happy.  We should be striving to better our lives and not depend on the government or any corporation to fund our primal comforts.  Instead, we should do what it takes to create something from within that in itself is useful and marketable thereby giving us power and jurisdiction over the very thing we create.  If you write and own the rights of a million dollar song, then you benefit most every time the song is played or purchased.

Just the same if you are good at financial planning, selling, etc., If you absolutely love stock portfolios or customer service, then by all means do that with all of your heart and I honestly believe that there will be a place for you because you will be so good at it, there will be a demand for your passion and work ethic.  

I could say a lot more about this.  For myself, I know that writing is one of my areas of passion.  So is mentoring youth.  I got into sports officiating because it got me closer to kids and activities that they care about.  I knew I could make a difference.  Most of the time I also get paid to do it too which helps to supplement my income.  The next thing for me in giving back is coaching.  I had a great conversation with a coach whom I respect greatly over the weekend.  And though he lives several hours drive away from me, we are going to spend some time together just to discuss that very thing.  Because I want to be great at it for the kids I am privileged to inspire. 

I blog for the love of writing.  Certainly most of us don’t get paid to do it.  But every time I put words down, it sharpens my ability; I give back to anyone who cares to read, especially a piece like this.  And who knows someone may see something I write and decide that they want to pay for my takes.  I have other irons in the fire as well.  I work in the corporate world to do what I have to do.  I provide excellent service and earn my way with the blessings of The Creator.  Equally, my mind and heart are fully engaged working towards living my dreams 24-7.  And it’s never too late.  Someone told me recently she is going to get her law degree.  She is in her mid 30s.  She thought M.B.A., but greatly desires law.  Her father convinced her to go with her passion damn the trends.  This is what I call living.  

If we are working or serving in an area of passion and skill, if we are willing to learn from others and be a blessing, we will meet the people we are supposed to meet, make the right connections and be a success.  Included within that success are the monetary benefits.  There is always a market for creativity, passion, enthusiasm, and a sure work ethic.  The universe will always make room for those operating within the character of imagination and excellence.  The universe never lays off.  It moves and adjust to the places where there are needs and resources, and where opportunities lie in wait.

Selah~

Follow The Money~What Do We Get For Our Investment

Cash rules everything around me, C.R.E.A.M. get the money, dolla dolla bill ya’ll – Wu-Tang Clan

Never were truer words said about religion.  Well let me back up a bit.  I can only speak for my experiences.  My history with the religious institutions that I have been involved with are such that the collection plate gets passed around many times.  I have seen building funds erected from start to finish.  Was urged to give my whole check as a step of faith.  (Which I did once) Saw money lines some of which I participated in as a much younger and ignorant man.  (If you don’t know what a money line is just leave a comment and I will explain it.) Heard sermons saying that the equity in my home was not my money but God’s money and should be brought in.  (Even I was never that dumb.)

Let me say that I am pro financially supporting our houses of worship and faith.  They cannot function without our dollars.  If a church, mosque or synagogue etc. are helping people and are financially accountable to it’s membership then its a great thing.  Most of the charity work that’s done are through not for profit organizations of faith.  Too often however I see that many of our churches in particular (again from my personal experience) are more about building themselves up.  As congregations grow, so do the buildings and television ministries.  I think it’s cool that some ministries broadcast worldwide via television and radio.  But if you have ever looked at TBN or The Word Channel for instance, there are way too many.  They are just broadcasting their personal church services – they rarely have a global spiritual message.   It’s become a status symbol to have said ministry on T.V.  It’s a status symbol to have many ministers driving around in luxury cars, living in luxury homes, and wearing luxury suits to speak about god’s prosperity.

Am I against prosperity?  Certainly not.  I go to work most everyday!  I believe that ministers who make their own money selling books or within their privatized businesses that they invest in with their own salary for instance is the American way.  But far too many use the money of it’s donors to finance their lifestyles while the communities surrounding them are suffering.  I don’t believe we give enough back to the people who pour the wealth in.  I mean it’s sad for a person to belong to a church which operates in a multi-million dollar facility, give money to that organization and not be able to receive financial help if you need it yourself.  I can tell you most don’t do it.

Its also sad to see the rich and poor sitting next to one another in the same pews, and the rich not want to do anything to help or teach their brother or sister tp prosper as well.   I would think the faith environment is a great place to share ideas and help one another live the best life possible. 

Now any preacher will say that the money they ask you for belongs to God.  But if it’s not benefiting God’s people as a whole, starting with the people within it’s own circulation, then it’s missing the point.  Charity does start at home right?  Yet parishioners at too many churches cannot get financial support when in need.  The testimonies of most of your television ministries are utterly ridiculous in that they can send you pamphlets every month with color photos of the minister or the CD of the week.  You can be a “faith partner” and give mega dollars to them over a long period of time.  But if you lose your job and ask for an investment into your troubled household, NOT going to happen. 

I do know of one church that I have been involved with that believed in taking care of people before brick and mortar.  I know for a fact that they would go late on the mortgage if they had to if a member had need.  The pastor didn’t even collect a salary and still  may not.  I think he should get a salary but he knows that there is not enough in the budget yet. 

There is so much we can say here.  But the bottom line is that it’s up to US – the people who support these ministries to make people accountable to put the money where it needs to be.   Ministries are a great place to learn and benefit from collective economics where everyone who can participate can also benefit when in need.  Until we the givers become more smarter, spiritual, and more spiritually discerning for god-sakes, we are destined for to get more of the same.

Money, Moral Conflicts, & The Blessing of Personal Integrity

 $20 dollar bill

Ok, so I worked my ASS off this past week officiating middle and high school basketball games.  It’s been a marathon ride to say the least.  Since the first of December I have done 42 games.  Yes I said 42 which includes 18 over the past weekend.  Depending on the school, or the tournament the pay can vary.  But steady work is always good regardless especially in these economic times.  As an official, I am basically an independent contractor.  To get games, people have to recognize you for being consistently good and diligent in your duties.  (Not to mention the politics at times.)  I am still getting to know people though my name and reputation are getting out there. 

I found myself having a dillemma when I received my final pay for the games over the weekend.  The tournament director overpaid me by $20.   That’s easy to understand considering it was  a terribly long weekend for him.  Not only did he organize and direct the games, he also coached his own set of kids who made it to the finals.  He was trying to be in 10 places at the same time.  Well he paid me my dividens as we made small talk about the tournament.  He then thanked me and went about his business of putting up chairs and heading the cleaning crew.  Inwardly it seemed as if he may have gave me slightly more than he was supposed to.  I folded they money and slid it in my jacket pocket and walked away.

Once I got to the car, I counted the money to make sure.  YEP he gave me an extra $20.  What was I to do now?  Immediately I went evangelical stereotypical greedy excuse making Christian and said to myself, “Gee what a blessing!  Shoot I can use that extra money.  I’ll consider it a tip for all of my efforts!”

Then my conscious is like, “Negro please.  That ain’t no blessing.  The man made a mistake.  Give him that money back.”

I’m pacing in front my car, knowing what the right thing to do was, but trying to convince myself why I shouldn’t do it.  It didn’t work.

This is what came into my spirit.

“If you believe in the universal laws of fundamental right and wrong, karma and goodness, then you understand the blessing that was already before you as you were able to work these and many other games in the first place.  Your body is healthy, car is running, got a roof over your head and people like the job you do.  Are you willing to sell your personal integrity for $20?” 

The answer was a very easy one.  “Hell no!

With that I walked back into the gym and sought the director out.  He was paying some other officials and when I got his attention, I whispered into his ear, “Here, you paid me over by $20.”  A happy yet exhausted man’s eyes lit up.  He chuckled at me as if I were some kinda wierdo and handed the money back to me with these words.  “Merry Christmas.”

Surprised I said, “Ahh man thanks!”  I walked out the gym with the extra loot, thinking about how it would suffice as gas money.  But I admit that the money itself paled in comparison to that which I gained that cannot be paid for, my self respect.

Televangelism At It’s Worst ~ Is that Al B. Sure?

I have a question for you.  What is worse than day time television with it’s numerous judge shows, them cackling female gossipers known as, “The View” and the assorted, “You are NOT the father” nonsense garbage programs?  Perhaps you’d say late night television with its infomercials about getting rich from sending in all your loose gold – or how that guy with the wacky jacket and glasses can get the government to fund all of your ideas.  What about the latest Chuck Norris workout – or perfect ball that will make your abs look like Michael Phelps for two installments of $19.99?   

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If you get too bored day or night you can always turn on one of the Law And Order/ SVU/ Missing Persons, CSI, DNA, CBS, NBC, ABC, ESPN and FOX detective shows.  I mean are they ever NOT on?  Don’t even get me started on Lifetime.  They won’t even use the script unless the righteous woman is trying to avoid some obsessive jerk who wants to steal her money and kill her family. If I can’t have you Barbara, nobody can!”

All of these pale in comparison however, to my favorite ridiculous TV program of all time; The Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) fundraising programs.  Now this is entertainment at its finest.  First let me give you a little history.  TBN, what I now call the “Takin Bank Network” was founded by Paul and Jan Crouch, as well as Jim and Tammy Bakker back in 73.   

According to Wikipedia: TBN generates nearly $200 million in revenue annually.[3] The network does not make its finances available and Crouch family members control the boards of all TBN entities, which makes Trinity “ineligible to join” the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, an evangelical self-regulating group.[4] It does not air commercials (excluding TBN Italy); rather, two-thirds of its revenue comes from viewer contributions and one-third from other televangelists’ payments for running their programming. Its $120 million donation revenue is larger than any other television ministry. It has posted average annual surpluses since 1997 of about $60 million. It holds two week-long fundraising telethons (known as ‘Praise-a-Thons’) per year, as well as numerous other solicitation drives. It maintains a direct mail database of 1.2 million names.

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As of 2002, TBN boasted $583 million in assets, including $238 million in government-backed securities and $31 million in cash. Also among its assets are a $7.2 million Canadair Turbojet and thirty houses in California, Texas and Ohio with values ranging up to $8 million.[5] The elder Crouches and their son Paul Jr. earn an estimated combined annual income of $900,000.[6] In September 2004, the Los Angeles Times characterized their personal lifestyle as a “life of luxury.”[7] According to Charity Navigator, TBN earned $188,152,079 in 2007 and has a 2 out of 4 star rating (47%).[8]

In June 2007, TBN purchased the bible-themed adventure park Holy Land Experience for $37 million.[9] The Orlando, FL based theme-park was in a slump with falling ticket sales and a reported $8 million debt when TBN purchased it.  In October nearly 100 employees were cut from the payroll.[10]

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With that as a backdrop – I was flipping the channels when I saw one of the Marketing Preacher Reps (MPRs) Bishop Clarence E. McClendon (aka. Al B. Sure) making his pitch for people to call their toll free number to pledge them dollars.  He talked about how the economy was going down but that God’s economy was still strong and that The Almighty would give the TV audience money if they gave these multi-millionaires their hard earned loot.  Bishop B. Sure was “night and day” quoting scripture after scripture, using his most traditional Southern Baptist theatric tone as he jerked and soared as if the spirit was taking over his body riling up the audience.  Then came the highlight of the rant!  He said, “You just don’t know what happens in hell when you call the number and pledge your financial support.  God magnifies the ring!”  Huh?  You mean to tell me that God is broadcasting the sounds of the phones ringing at the TBN offices in hell so as to gloat to Satan and his little demons?  Yep!  That’s what he said. 

 

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Bishop B.Sure isn’t the only one – when he’s not on there shuffling and jiving, there are others like Juanita Bynum, Rod Parsley, Benny Hinn, Eddie Long, and other heavy hitter big name MPRs.  They go on the program and appear before the television audience to get all deep, mystical, and spiritual as they give you reason after reason why you need to invest your dollars into their coffers – even if you are broke!  It’s not as if they are not already a billion dollar industry.  Still in all, while hundreds of thousands of jobs are being lost every month, they want to make sure they get their grubby hands on what little you have left. 

I am a firm believer in supporting local ministries especially when they are available to giving back.  Try asking “Takin Bank Network” for help the next time your gas is about to get shut off or if there is no food on the plate.  The most you’ll get is a prayer and some more junk mail asking for donations. 

I couldn’t stomach Bishop B. Sure any longer.  I had to finish with some serious informative and educational programming. I watched the last few minutes of the Arizona Cardinals beating the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football.  I hear the Devil was watching the football game too.  Though there was no word on whether he could hear the sound with all that ringing noise going on.