Ever wonder where great ideas come from? Someone at the Wall Street Journal did, and his curiosity resulted in an article in the April 29th edition that interviewed successful inventors, investors, advisers, etc. Here are some of the suggestions for developing your own success story. Look at what is bugging you or a problem that needs to be solved. Don’t think that you are too old to count. According to this article, the typical entrepreneur is a middle aged professional who learns of a market need and starts a company with his own money. The average age of a successful entrepreneur in high growth industries –computers, healthcare and aerospace—is 40. Twice as many successful “inventors” are aged over 50 as under 25. Start your brainstorming with problems that you are personally invested/interested in. Innovation can come from acting on your idea in a different way than other people are attacking it. Look outside of your industry and find applications that fit your situation. Be aware of what is happening to you and around you. Stay healthy and curious. Ideas come and go. It takes a lot of drive and energy to take the seed of inspiration and develop it into something special. It is also important to accept failure. Just try to do it cheaply and quickly. Get out of your comfort zone. Experience life away from your normal patterns and observe with an open mind. Be a good listener. Get customer feedback and listen to your employees. Know that even bad ideas may have pieces of gold in them. Learn how to separate the wheat from the chaff. Don’t stop working while you wait on the next “great” idea. Chance is that the idea will come in the midst of your work, and hopefully you will recognize that a light bulb has gone off.
Shifting from great ideas to bad ideas, the President’s proposed budget for 2014 includes a proposal to set a cap on tax advantaged retirement savings for wealthy individuals. According to an article in the June 24th Barron’s magazine, there has been a slight uproar by those targeted for having saved diligently and been financially successful. The proposed cap is equivalent to the amount needed to buy an annuity starting at age 62 worth $205,000 per year, subject to cost of living increases. In today’s dollars, that relates to a nest egg of about $3.4 million. However, if interest rates go up—and they almost have to—the maximum allowed could fall drastically. Another factor is your age. Anyone younger than 62 would face a much lower cap. For example, in an 8% interest rate environment, a 25 year old would have a cap of $13,807 according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute. This idea is only a proposal at this point. If you are concerned, let someone know about it. More regulation, more disincentives to pursue the American dream. Is that the direction we want to go?
A friend of ours introduced us to “Duck Dynasty” several weeks ago, and now we watch the show on a regular basis. Beverly thinks that it is this generation’s “The Waltons”. Maybe we like it because it is a Louisiana family that has made the big time, which is true. Maybe we can relate to some of their stories and maybe we wish that we had shared more meals around a table and offered a prayer before every meal. Maybe it is not too late to move in that direction. From our local author, Emilie Griffin, “It seems then, that the greatest obstacle to prayer is the simple matter of beginning, the simple exertion of the will, the starting, the acting, the doing.” Bernard of Clairvaux wrote, “Dear brothers, you should never doubt your prayer, thinking it might have been in vain, for I tell you truly that before you have uttered the words, the prayer is already in heaven.”
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