by Serena Wadhwa Psy.D., LCPC, CADC
FAIRYTALE: Some couples just seem to have the perfect marriage, so I often compare my relationship to theirs
and end up feeling like it doesn’t measure up. Why don’t I have that “perfect marriage?”
REALITY: It’s easy to believe that the public magical moments we see of a marriage are all of what that marriage
has. However, no marriage, no matter how enchanting it seems, is perfect. Each marriage has its ups and downs
and it’s important to recognize that each partner is a real individual with different goals, dreams, situations, issues,
and not a made up fantasy. All marriages do have magical moments; it’s working towards creating more of them
that’s important. It’s important not to compare your marriage to someone else’s because each situation is different.
You don’t know what that couple’s marriage is like in the privacy of their own home. You may not even know the
real reasons why the marriage occurred. When you compare your marriage to someone else’s, you are denying
yourself the opportunity to see the reality of your own situation.
We cannot magically want something to occur in our reality without some work on our part. Look at what aspects
of your marriage are you comparing. For example, if you are comparing the romance in your marriage to the
romance in your friend’s marriage, what is it about her romance that you want more of in your marriage? Once you
determine what specifically you want more of (surprises, candlelight dinners, dates, etc.) you can begin developing
a plan to get it. If you want more magical moments, talk with your partner about what these magical moments are
and how the two of you can go about creating them.
FAIRYTALE: We won’t have any money issues because we know that’s not the most important factor in a lasting
marriage. So why is it that seems to be all we argue about?
REALITY: All of us have an idealized version of our fairy tale wedding. We want it to be perfect and everything
else that goes with it, including the marriage. We want to believe that once we have that fairy tale wedding, spared
no expense, there is nothing more we need to do. Yet some believe that the more money invested in the wedding,
the more it means that each partner is invested in the marriage. This is an erroneous belief. Sparing no expense for
a wedding does little in planning the marriage itself. Money does become one of the most frequently argued about
topics in marriages. After the ceremony itself, the bills are still left to be paid. This can cause frustration, stress, and
arguments between individuals who love each other to the death. The reality is that if you are not investing in the
marriage, chances are you’ll hit more that your share of rough patches. It doesn’t have to be the poisoned apple
that puts your marriage to sleep, but the point is, you need to focus on planning the marriage more than planning
the wedding. No magic wand can get you out of a rut, no matter how much you wish for it.
FAIRYTALE: I know that getting married will fulfill every need, desire, wish and fantasy that I have.
REALITY: No one person fulfills all of someone’s desires, needs and wishes. Even for Cinderella, she needed
certain mice to be the horses and other mice to be the coachmen. No one mouse could do all that. Snow White
had seven different dwarfs that had their individual functions. No one dwarf could do all that. It works the same way
for individuals. We can’t expect one person to take on all that responsibility. This is why it’s important to have a
good support circle of friends and family, as each person can fulfill something you need. For example, you may
have one friend that you can talk to about certain issues, but there is another friend that’s the fun one when you
want to hang out and relax. The same is true of your spouse. While your spouse is the primary person you may turn
to, he/she cannot be the only person you have. It may create an unhealthy relationship. It’s important to keep in
mind that while Prince Charming can perhaps read minds, your spouse cannot. If you need or want something, let it
be known. Communication is an important skill in a good marriage.
FAIRYTALE: Married people have less satisfying sex lives, and less sex, than single people.
REALITY: According to a national study, the reality is that married individuals have better and more satisfying sex
than do singles and unmarried couples. In fact, there are numerous benefits for married individuals than for those
who are single. Research indicated that married couples (provided they have married the “right person”) have better
psychological health, live longer, may make more money, and experience less domestic violence. In a long-term
commitment, most individuals want to please their partners, as it contributes to the satisfaction experienced. In
marriage, there is a higher level of commitment and a greater sense of trust and security. These factors contribute
to the higher levels of sexual satisfaction.
FAIRYTALE: Cohabitation is just like marriage, but without “the piece of paper.”
REALITY: While we may wishfully believe that cohabiting is similar to being married, this is not true. What some
research indicates, is that those who cohabitate experience increased levels of marital unhappiness and possible
divorce than those who do not cohabitate before marriage. Part of what may contribute to this is that when a couple
gets “the piece of paper” there is a stronger commitment and investment that occurs. Each individual is more
invested in keeping the marriage healthy. There is also more thought given to the partner’s input, thoughts, wants,
when any major decision is being made. In cohabitation, this is not necessarily the case. Couples who live together
but have not gone that extra step to solidify the relationship, usually do not give equal consideration to their partner
when major decisions occur. There is still some psychological separation that exists, without “that piece of paper.”
Additionally, research indicates that the benefits of cohabitation, while better than for those who are single, do not
reach the benefits that couples who are married experience.
Women-owned businesses are the fastest growing segment of the economy
The National Association of Women Business Owners today announced its partnership with LeanIn.org. The two organizations plan to empower women with the tools they need to realize their career and life goals, using a program of education and mentorship. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook is also on board with the initiative.
Women-owned businesses are the fastest growing segment of the economy and are responsible for employing more than 13 million people. This equates to $1.9 trillion in sales from women-owned businesses yearly. Diane Tomb, President and CEO of NAWBO wants to ensure this trend continues by empowering women entrepreneurs.
Lean in Education is a series of educational material that was developed in conjunction with the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University. The program touches on a number of topics important to the day to day aspects of running business, from negotiation skills to team dynamics. Sheryl Sandberg is a co-founder of LeanIn.org and recognizes the unique struggles a female entrepreneur faces.
“For years, women have represented an important part of the workforce, earning 57 percent of undergraduate and 63 percent of masters degrees in the United States today… yet many organizations struggle to attract and retain high-potential women, especially in the most senior roles,” said Sandberg.
LeanIn.Org consists of three integrated programs:
1) Lean In Community brings women and men together to share stories and have daily conversations around topics that will help them achieve their goals.
2) Lean In Education offers access to free online lectures, produced in collaboration with the Clayman Institute for Gender Studies at Stanford University, on topics including creating successful teams, combating gender bias, negotiating, and advocating for your ideas.
3) Lean In Circles are small groups that meet monthly to learn together and share experiences in an atmosphere of confidentiality and trust.
“NAWBO is leaning in because we know how much female entrepreneurs have to offer one another. We support Sheryl Sandberg and LeanIn’s mission to connect and support women in all areas and stages of their professional development and are excited to have the opportunity to work with them to encourage and motivate them to reach their full potential,” said Tomb.
(Editor’s note: Latrice got married last week)
by Latrice Marie Winston
“A healthy outside starts from a healthy inside.” –Robert Urich
One day I looked in the mirror and I just did not see all the changes I had been working so hard for.
I was faithfully strength training four times a week. I wasn’t skipping cardio to the point that my hair was constantly sweating out (another article), and I thought I was eating the right amount of food at all the right times.
I wasn’t. What I failed to realize was that I was an emotional eater, and that although my eating patterns had improved, I was still preventing myself from achieving goals.
I’ve discussed this topic often with others, and I’ve come to realize that many of us struggle with it; so in this article we’re going to discuss what emotional eating is, the difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger, and how to effectively deal with emotional eating.
Emotional eating is eating for reasons other than hunger. Instead of physical symptoms of hunger initiating the eating, an emotion triggers the eating (Jane Jakubczak, University of Maryland).
This is the quickest way to sabotage any and all weight loss goals.
(Many have described weight loss as 70 percent eating and 30 percent exercise). We often associate emotional eating with depression and then the customary stuffing of our faces to fill that void. I’ve been there too, but it’s bigger than that.
Like many, I thought emotional eating only occurred when I was sad or bored, but then began to realize that I also ate when I was content or happy.
As African Americans, we tend to celebrate everything with food.
When my fiancé was accepted to an MBA program, I cooked him desserts; it felt natural.
But after looking in that mirror and realizing my relationship to food, I began to keep a food journal. I noticed that during my busiest days I wasn’t quite eating enough, and on slack days I was eating too much.
And while it’s obvious to most how overeating can hinder weight loss, under-eating while still overeating at times can destroy a metabolism and lead to long-term weigh gain.
While keeping my journal, I was forced to think about everything I was putting in my mouth. Over time I was able to determine what emotional hunger vs. physical hunger was.
For example, I was eating almost twice the amount of recommended protein that I needed to. The recommended amount is a palm full of protein, fruits and vegetables.
Emotionally I felt as if I needed more, but in reality I didn’t.
There are four key differences between emotional hunger and physical hunger:
1) Emotional hunger occurs suddenly, and physical hunger occurs gradually.
2) Eating to fill a void with requests for specific food is emotional eating. When you’re physically hungry, you are far less choosy, and you will stop eating because your stomach feels full.
3) Emotional eating tends to be instantly satisfied.
4) Emotional hunger leaves behind guilt, while physical hunger doesn’t. Over time, I realized that when upset I desperately wanted something sweet, like doughnuts or ice cream. After eating them, I always felt bloated and guilty.
Once you become aware of your emotional state, your physical actions will change for the better. Here are a few tips to help you deal with emotional eating.
Recognize emotional eating, and learn the triggers within you. Use a journal; it will force you to become more self-aware.
Make a list of things to do when you get the urge to eat and you’re not hungry. Carry it with you. Work through your emotions without food!
Stay productive; when you get bored, those cravings tend to sneak in. But a warning: When you’re tired, you may want to eat to keep yourself awake or busy. If you’re able, take a nap or recognize the craving. Your body is telling you it needs rest, not more food!
Lastly, when it comes to comfort foods, we may experience anxiety that may lead to emotional eating. To help with this, allow yourself some of the foods that you love, because this isn’t a diet — it’s a new way of eating. Do everything in moderation.
Exercise alone will not shed the fat. In order to safely cut the calories needed to lose that unwanted fat, you need to consider several things: age, height, weight and sex. You can refer to my blog to calculate your BMI or for more information about healthy food ideas!
Latrice Marie welcomes reader responses to [email protected], or visit her at www. Facebook.com/pages/Latrice-Marie/489150201109966
by The Network Journal Staff
Become a better business person with these New Year’s resolutions
The year’s end is a perfect time to think about your business’s progress over the past year and your goals for the future. If you want to increase your success in 2013 and boost your business, follow these five New Year’s resolutions.
Promote Your Business Consistently and Regularly
Promoting a small business takes time, money and lots of effort, but it should never be at the bottom of your to-do list. Make promotion a priority in the new year to attract new customers. Resolve to reassess your marketing strategy, hire a marketing expert or create a plan to bring new customers in.
Hold Weekly Business Planning Sessions
Planning is essential to fostering a healthy, growing business. Instead of assessing your business plan once a quarter or once a year, set aside time every week to review, adjust and plan for the future. Use the time to refine old goals or set new directions to stay on track and avoid costly mistakes.
Join a New Networking Group or Business Organization
Interacting with other entrepreneurs sparks new ideas and refines old ones. In the new year, make an effort to reach out to organizations dedicated to your type of business. Being a part of the group will re-energize your business.
Drop What Is Not Working
Resolve to move on from what is not working for you and your business in the new year. Not all products fly off the shelves, not all contractors or suppliers are suited to your business, and not all sales methods work for everyone. Identify what does work, then drop the rest and move on.
Schedule Time for You
Finding a work-personal life balance is essential to your success both within your business and in other aspects of life. Schedule time just for yourself on your calendar to invest in yourself.
What business resolutions are you making this year? Share your goals with our readers in the comment section below!
Almost any exercise is good exercise. That said, some people waste time on routines that aren’t best for reaching their goals.
Lack of time is the number one excuse people give for not working out so why waste your precious time on exercises that are inefficient, ineffective or just plain unsafe?
Here are 6 exercises that your workout could probably do just fine without:
If only getting those flat abs was this easy. Anyone seeking a tighter core should stay away from sit-ups and work on planks and side planks instead. The abdominal crunch is really only strengthening a very small section of your abdominal wall and doesn’t address working your lower abs directly.
Leg Extension Machine
The leg extension machine isolates the muscles in the front of the thighs known as the quadriceps. But lifting extra heavy weights with just your thighs is a recipe for injury. Besides straining knee ligaments, this exercise can overdevelop the quads, making the back of thigh muscles (hamstrings) more likely to snap, especially if they’re tight and weak in comparison. Stick to squat-and-lunge type moves for safe, superior thigh sculpting.
Only Running On The Treadmill
Running like a maniac on that treadmill for a good hour? Well, unless you’re mixing your cardio with weight lifting, continuous running isn’t doing anything for your weight loss goals. The only time an hour on the treadmill is appropriate is if you’re preparing for a marathon.
Inner/Outer Thigh Machines
You can definitely skip the inner and outer thigh machines because they work such a small patch of muscle and because the movements are so unnatural. You may wind up building up the very area you’re trying to trim down. For toned legs, you’ll get much better results with moves like holding a weighted ball as you do basic squats, lunges and side squats.
If you work out thinking you’re only targeting one specific part of your body, there’s nothing happening to that unwanted fat. There is no such thing as spot reduction. You will get much better results by reducing your carb intake at night, eating proper amounts of protein, reducing your sugar and alcohol levels and working out your whole body.
Squats on the Smith Machine
The problem: The bar on the machine doesn’t give, which can force the body into risky positions. Plus, people tend to put their feet farther in front of their bodies when doing squats on the machine, which makes matters worse.
Young African American college graduates say they are much more serious about reaching financial goals than previous generations, according to new Northwestern Mutual research.
A large majority (70 percent) of 18-to-34-year-old African American college graduates described themselves as either “disciplined” or “highly disciplined” financial planners, compared to only 47 percent of those aged 35 and older. However, mature African American college graduates (55 and older) were far more likely than those aged 18-to-34 to report having plans in place to prepare them financially to live to age 95 (40 percent vs. 9 percent, respectively). Overall, four in 10 African American college graduates (41 percent) felt financially prepared to live to age 75 while about one in four (27 percent) were prepared to live to age 95.
“It’s encouraging to see young African American college grads feeling confident in their ability to commit to long-term financial plans,” said William Taylor, vice president, Northwestern Mutual. “The study shows brighter financial futures for the next generation of African Americans if that passion for planning can be coupled with careful plan design, enabling young people to get not just to, but through retirement. The good news for all – no matter their age, gender or race – is that it’s never too late to take that first small step and start planning for the long-term.”
When asked about having a plan in place for various aspects of their lives, there was clear contrast in values between genders. Male African American college graduates (52 percent) were more likely to have a financial plan in place to meet their financial goals than women (35 percent). Instead, more women graduates reported having plans in place to meet their spiritual, physical fitness and family life goals. As a whole, 58 percent had a plan in place for their spiritual life compared to 43 percent having a plan in place for their financial life.
The most popular attitude of African American college graduates toward financial planning is that of “slow and steady wins the race,” or a cautiously optimistic approach to their saving and investments (31 percent).
Northwestern Mutual is unveiling the research findings at the National Black MBA Association, Inc.’s (NBMBAA) 34th Annual Conference & Exposition in Indianapolis, Ind., a five-day event intended to further the creation of educational opportunities and economic growth for African Americans.
Northwestern Mutual partnered with Independent research firm Ipsos to conduct an online survey of 250 African American college graduates aged 25 or older between June 5 and June 11, 2012 via a systematic random sample to evaluate the state of financial planning among educated African Americans. Results were weighted as needed to U.S. Census proportions for age, gender, marital status, household size, region and household income. A full methodology is available on request.
CHICAGO — Tonight, in his remarks to the Democratic National Convention, President Obama asked the country to rally around a set of concrete goals to move the country forward toward an economy that grows from the middle out, not the top down. This roadmap — a real, achievable plan that will create jobs, expand opportunity, and strengthen the middle class — will deliver concrete results in the key areas of manufacturing, energy, education, national security, and the deficit. Read more about the President’s roadmap HERE.
Below are President Obama’s remarks as prepared for delivery —
Michelle, I love you. The other night, I think the entire country saw just how lucky I am. Malia and Sasha, you make me so proud…but don’t get any ideas, you’re still going to class tomorrow. And Joe Biden, thank you for being the best Vice President I could ever hope for.
Madam Chairwoman, delegates, I accept your nomination for President of the United States.
The first time I addressed this convention in 2004, I was a younger man; a Senate candidate from Illinois who spoke about hope – not blind optimism or wishful thinking, but hope in the face of difficulty; hope in the face of uncertainty; that dogged faith in the future which has pushed this nation forward, even when the odds are great; even when the road is long.
Eight years later, that hope has been tested – by the cost of war; by one of the worst economic crises in history; and by political gridlock that’s left us wondering whether it’s still possible to tackle the challenges of our time.
I know that campaigns can seem small, and even silly. Trivial things become big distractions. Serious issues become sound bites. And the truth gets buried under an avalanche of money and advertising. If you’re sick of hearing me approve this message, believe me – so am I.
But when all is said and done – when you pick up that ballot to vote – you will face the clearest choice of any time in a generation. Over the next few years, big decisions will be made in Washington, on jobs and the economy; taxes and deficits; energy and education; war and peace – decisions that will have a huge impact on our lives and our children’s lives for decades to come.
On every issue, the choice you face won’t be just between two candidates or two parties.
It will be a choice between two different paths for America.
A choice between two fundamentally different visions for the future.
Ours is a fight to restore the values that built the largest middle class and the strongest economy the world has ever known; the values my grandfather defended as a soldier in Patton’s Army; the values that drove my grandmother to work on a bomber assembly line while he was gone.
They knew they were part of something larger – a nation that triumphed over fascism and depression; a nation where the most innovative businesses turned out the world’s best products, and everyone shared in the pride and success – from the corner office to the factory floor. My grandparents were given the chance to go to college, buy their first home, and fulfill the basic bargain at the heart of America’s story: the promise that hard work will pay off; that responsibility will be rewarded; that everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules – from Main Street to Wall Street to Washington, DC.
I ran for President because I saw that basic bargain slipping away. I began my career helping people in the shadow of a shuttered steel mill, at a time when too many good jobs were starting to move overseas. And by 2008, we had seen nearly a decade in which families struggled with costs that kept rising but paychecks that didn’t; racking up more and more debt just to make the mortgage or pay tuition; to put gas in the car or food on the table. And when the house of cards collapsed in the Great Recession, millions of innocent Americans lost their jobs, their homes, and their life savings – a tragedy from which we are still fighting to recover.
Now, our friends at the Republican convention were more than happy to talk about everything they think is wrong with America, but they didn’t have much to say about how they’d make it right. They want your vote, but they don’t want you to know their plan. And that’s because all they have to offer is the same prescription they’ve had for the last thirty years:
“Have a surplus? Try a tax cut.”
“Deficit too high? Try another.”
“Feel a cold coming on? Take two tax cuts, roll back some regulations, and call us in the morning!”
Now, I’ve cut taxes for those who need it – middle-class families and small businesses. But I don’t believe that another round of tax breaks for millionaires will bring good jobs to our shores, or pay down our deficit. I don’t believe that firing teachers or kicking students off financial aid will grow the economy, or help us compete with the scientists and engineers coming out of China. After all that we’ve been through, I don’t believe that rolling back regulations on Wall Street will help the small businesswoman expand, or the laid-off construction worker keep his home. We’ve been there, we’ve tried that, and we’re not going back. We’re moving forward.
I won’t pretend the path I’m offering is quick or easy. I never have. You didn’t elect me to tell you what you wanted to hear. You elected me to tell you the truth. And the truth is, it will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over decades. It will require common effort, shared responsibility, and the kind of bold, persistent experimentation that Franklin Roosevelt pursued during the only crisis worse than this one. And by the way – those of us who carry on his party’s legacy should remember that not every problem can be remedied with another government program or dictate from Washington.
But know this, America: Our problems can be solved. Our challenges can be met. The path we offer may be harder, but it leads to a better place. And I’m asking you to choose that future. I’m asking you to rally around a set of goals for your country – goals in manufacturing, energy, education, national security, and the deficit; a real, achievable plan that will lead to new jobs, more opportunity, and rebuild this economy on a stronger foundation. That’s what we can do in the next four years, and that’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States.
We can choose a future where we export more products and outsource fewer jobs. After a decade that was defined by what we bought and borrowed, we’re getting back to basics, and doing what America has always done best:
We’re making things again.
I’ve met workers in Detroit and Toledo who feared they’d never build another American car. Today, they can’t build them fast enough, because we reinvented a dying auto industry that’s back on top of the world.
I’ve worked with business leaders who are bringing jobs back to America – not because our workers make less pay, but because we make better products. Because we work harder and smarter than anyone else.
I’ve signed trade agreements that are helping our companies sell more goods to millions of new customers – goods that are stamped with three proud words: Made in America.
After a decade of decline, this country created over half a million manufacturing jobs in the last two and a half years. And now you have a choice: we can give more tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas, or we can start rewarding companies that open new plants and train new workers and create new jobs here, in the United States of America. We can help big factories and small businesses double their exports, and if we choose this path, we can create a million new manufacturing jobs in the next four years. You can make that happen. You can choose that future.
You can choose the path where we control more of our own energy. After thirty years of inaction, we raised fuel standards so that by the middle of the next decade, cars and trucks will go twice as far on a gallon of gas. We’ve doubled our use of renewable energy, and thousands of Americans have jobs today building wind turbines and long-lasting batteries. In the last year alone, we cut oil imports by one million barrels a day – more than any administration in recent history. And today, the United States of America is less dependent on foreign oil than at any time in nearly two decades.
Now you have a choice – between a strategy that reverses this progress, or one that builds on it. We’ve opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration in the last three years, and we’ll open more. But unlike my opponent, I will not let oil companies write this country’s energy plan, or endanger our coastlines, or collect another $4 billion in corporate welfare from our taxpayers.
We’re offering a better path – a future where we keep investing in wind and solar and clean coal; where farmers and scientists harness new biofuels to power our cars and trucks; where construction workers build homes and factories that waste less energy; where we develop a hundred year supply of natural gas that’s right beneath our feet. If you choose this path, we can cut our oil imports in half by 2020 and support more than 600,000 new jobs in natural gas alone.
And yes, my plan will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet – because climate change is not a hoax. More droughts and floods and wildfires are not a joke. They’re a threat to our children’s future. And in this election, you can do something about it.
You can choose a future where more Americans have the chance to gain the skills they need to compete, no matter how old they are or how much money they have. Education was the gateway to opportunity for me. It was the gateway for Michelle. And now more than ever, it is the gateway to a middle-class life.
For the first time in a generation, nearly every state has answered our call to raise their standards for teaching and learning. Some of the worst schools in the country have made real gains in math and reading. Millions of students are paying less for college today because we finally took on a system that wasted billions of taxpayer dollars on banks and lenders.
And now you have a choice – we can gut education, or we can decide that in the United States of America, no child should have her dreams deferred because of a crowded classroom or a crumbling school. No family should have to set aside a college acceptance letter because they don’t have the money. No company should have to look for workers in China because they couldn’t find any with the right skills here at home.
Government has a role in this. But teachers must inspire; principals must lead; parents must instill a thirst for learning, and students, you’ve got to do the work. And together, I promise you – we can out-educate and out-compete any country on Earth. Help me recruit 100,000 math and science teachers in the next ten years, and improve early childhood education. Help give two million workers the chance to learn skills at their community college that will lead directly to a job. Help us work with colleges and universities to cut in half the growth of tuition costs over the next ten years. We can meet that goal together. You can choose that future for America.
In a world of new threats and new challenges, you can choose leadership that has been tested and proven. Four years ago, I promised to end the war in Iraq. We did. I promised to refocus on the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11. We have. We’ve blunted the Taliban’s momentum in Afghanistan, and in 2014, our longest war will be over. A new tower rises above the New York skyline, al Qaeda is on the path to defeat, and Osama bin Laden is dead.
Tonight, we pay tribute to the Americans who still serve in harm’s way. We are forever in debt to a generation whose sacrifice has made this country safer and more respected. We will never forget you. And so long as I’m Commander-in-Chief, we will sustain the strongest military the world has ever known. When you take off the uniform, we will serve you as well as you’ve served us – because no one who fights for this country should have to fight for a job, or a roof over their head, or the care that they need when they come home.
Around the world, we’ve strengthened old alliances and forged new coalitions to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. We’ve reasserted our power across the Pacific and stood up to China on behalf of our workers. From Burma to Libya to South Sudan, we have advanced the rights and dignity of all human beings – men and women; Christians and Muslims and Jews.
But for all the progress we’ve made, challenges remain. Terrorist plots must be disrupted. Europe’s crisis must be contained. Our commitment to Israel’s security must not waver, and neither must our pursuit of peace. The Iranian government must face a world that stays united against its nuclear ambitions. The historic change sweeping across the Arab World must be defined not by the iron fist of a dictator or the hate of extremists, but by the hopes and aspirations of ordinary people who are reaching for the same rights that we celebrate today.
So now we face a choice. My opponent and his running mate are new to foreign policy, but from all that we’ve seen and heard, they want to take us back to an era of blustering and blundering that cost America so dearly.
After all, you don’t call Russia our number one enemy – and not al Qaeda – unless you’re still stuck in a Cold War time warp. You might not be ready for diplomacy with Beijing if you can’t visit the Olympics without insulting our closest ally. My opponent said it was “tragic” to end the war in Iraq, and he won’t tell us how he’ll end the war in Afghanistan. I have, and I will. And while my opponent would spend more money on military hardware that our Joint Chiefs don’t even want, I’ll use the money we’re no longer spending on war to pay down our debt and put more people back to work – rebuilding roads and bridges; schools and runways. After two wars that have cost us thousands of lives and over a trillion dollars, it’s time to do some nation-building right here at home.
You can choose a future where we reduce our deficit without wrecking our middle class. Independent analysis shows that my plan would cut our deficits by $4 trillion. Last summer, I worked with Republicans in Congress to cut $1 trillion in spending – because those of us who believe government can be a force for good should work harder than anyone to reform it, so that it’s leaner, more efficient, and more responsive to the American people.
I want to reform the tax code so that it’s simple, fair, and asks the wealthiest households to pay higher taxes on incomes over $250,000 – the same rate we had when Bill Clinton was president; the same rate we had when our economy created nearly 23 million new jobs, the biggest surplus in history, and a lot of millionaires to boot.
Now, I’m still eager to reach an agreement based on the principles of my bipartisan debt commission. No party has a monopoly on wisdom. No democracy works without compromise. But when Governor Romney and his allies in Congress tell us we can somehow lower our deficit by spending trillions more on new tax breaks for the wealthy – well, you do the math. I refuse to go along with that. And as long as I’m President, I never will.
I refuse to ask middle class families to give up their deductions for owning a home or raising their kids just to pay for another millionaire’s tax cut. I refuse to ask students to pay more for college; or kick children out of Head Start programs, or eliminate health insurance for millions of Americans who are poor, elderly, or disabled – all so those with the most can pay less.
And I will never turn Medicare into a voucher. No American should ever have to spend their golden years at the mercy of insurance companies. They should retire with the care and dignity they have earned. Yes, we will reform and strengthen Medicare for the long haul, but we’ll do it by reducing the cost of health care – not by asking seniors to pay thousands of dollars more. And we will keep the promise of Social Security by taking the responsible steps to strengthen it – not by turning it over to Wall Street.
This is the choice we now face. This is what the election comes down to. Over and over, we have been told by our opponents that bigger tax cuts and fewer regulations are the only way; that since government can’t do everything, it should do almost nothing. If you can’t afford health insurance, hope that you don’t get sick. If a company releases toxic pollution into the air your children breathe, well, that’s just the price of progress. If you can’t afford to start a business or go to college, take my opponent’s advice and “borrow money from your parents.”
You know what? That’s not who we are. That’s not what this country’s about. As Americans, we believe we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights – rights that no man or government can take away. We insist on personal responsibility and we celebrate individual initiative. We’re not entitled to success. We have to earn it. We honor the strivers, the dreamers, the risk-takers who have always been the driving force behind our free enterprise system – the greatest engine of growth and prosperity the world has ever known.
But we also believe in something called citizenship – a word at the very heart of our founding, at the very essence of our democracy; the idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another, and to future generations.
We believe that when a CEO pays his autoworkers enough to buy the cars that they build, the whole company does better.
We believe that when a family can no longer be tricked into signing a mortgage they can’t afford, that family is protected, but so is the value of other people’s homes, and so is the entire economy.
We believe that a little girl who’s offered an escape from poverty by a great teacher or a grant for college could become the founder of the next Google, or the scientist who cures cancer, or the President of the United States – and it’s in our power to give her that chance.
We know that churches and charities can often make more of a difference than a poverty program alone. We don’t want handouts for people who refuse to help themselves, and we don’t want bailouts for banks that break the rules. We don’t think government can solve all our problems. But we don’t think that government is the source of all our problems – any more than are welfare recipients, or corporations, or unions, or immigrants, or gays, or any other group we’re told to blame for our troubles.
Because we understand that this democracy is ours.
We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense.
As citizens, we understand that America is not about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us, together, through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self-government.
So you see, the election four years ago wasn’t about me. It was about you. My fellow citizens – you were the change.
You’re the reason there’s a little girl with a heart disorder in Phoenix who’ll get the surgery she needs because an insurance company can’t limit her coverage. You did that.
You’re the reason a young man in Colorado who never thought he’d be able to afford his dream of earning a medical degree is about to get that chance. You made that possible.
You’re the reason a young immigrant who grew up here and went to school here and pledged allegiance to our flag will no longer be deported from the only country she’s ever called home; why selfless soldiers won’t be kicked out of the military because of who they are or who they love; why thousands of families have finally been able to say to the loved ones who served us so bravely: “Welcome home.”
If you turn away now – if you buy into the cynicism that the change we fought for isn’t possible…well, change will not happen. If you give up on the idea that your voice can make a difference, then other voices will fill the void: lobbyists and special interests; the people with the $10 million checks who are trying to buy this election and those who are making it harder for you to vote; Washington politicians who want to decide who you can marry, or control health care choices that women should make for themselves.
Only you can make sure that doesn’t happen. Only you have the power to move us forward.
I recognize that times have changed since I first spoke to this convention. The times have changed – and so have I.
I’m no longer just a candidate. I’m the President. I know what it means to send young Americans into battle, for I have held in my arms the mothers and fathers of those who didn’t return. I’ve shared the pain of families who’ve lost their homes, and the frustration of workers who’ve lost their jobs. If the critics are right that I’ve made all my decisions based on polls, then I must not be very good at reading them. And while I’m proud of what we’ve achieved together, I’m far more mindful of my own failings, knowing exactly what Lincoln meant when he said, “I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go.”
But as I stand here tonight, I have never been more hopeful about America. Not because I think I have all the answers. Not because I’m naïve about the magnitude of our challenges.
I’m hopeful because of you.
The young woman I met at a science fair who won national recognition for her biology research while living with her family at a homeless shelter – she gives me hope.
The auto worker who won the lottery after his plant almost closed, but kept coming to work every day, and bought flags for his whole town and one of the cars that he built to surprise his wife – he gives me hope.
The family business in Warroad, Minnesota that didn’t lay off a single one of their four thousand employees during this recession, even when their competitors shut down dozens of plants, even when it meant the owners gave up some perks and pay – because they understood their biggest asset was the community and the workers who helped build that business – they give me hope.
And I think about the young sailor I met at Walter Reed hospital, still recovering from a grenade attack that would cause him to have his leg amputated above the knee. Six months ago, I would watch him walk into a White House dinner honoring those who served in Iraq, tall and twenty pounds heavier, dashing in his uniform, with a big grin on his face; sturdy on his new leg. And I remember how a few months after that I would watch him on a bicycle, racing with his fellow wounded warriors on a sparkling spring day, inspiring other heroes who had just begun the hard path he had traveled.
He gives me hope.
I don’t know what party these men and women belong to. I don’t know if they’ll vote for me. But I know that their spirit defines us. They remind me, in the words of Scripture, that ours is a “future filled with hope.”
And if you share that faith with me – if you share that hope with me – I ask you tonight for your vote.
If you reject the notion that this nation’s promise is reserved for the few, your voice must be heard in this election.
If you reject the notion that our government is forever beholden to the highest bidder, you need to stand up in this election.
If you believe that new plants and factories can dot our landscape; that new energy can power our future; that new schools can provide ladders of opportunity to this nation of dreamers; if you believe in a country where everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules, then I need you to vote this November.
America, I never said this journey would be easy, and I won’t promise that now. Yes, our path is harder – but it leads to a better place. Yes our road is longer – but we travel it together. We don’t turn back. We leave no one behind. We pull each other up. We draw strength from our victories, and we learn from our mistakes, but we keep our eyes fixed on that distant horizon, knowing that Providence is with us, and that we are surely blessed to be citizens of the greatest nation on Earth.
Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless these United States.
As a principle of your organization, you clearly understand the importance of sales in the organization. You are wearing too many hats to play sales manager as well but do you really know how they are doing? If they aren’t hitting their revenue goals do you know why? Is it a viable reason? Do they have a battle plan to change that?
You have two challenges when your sales force prepares for battle:
Challenge 1: Like any kind of warfare, you have a distinct advantage when you can tap good and reliable intelligence. Here’s the problem: Your salespeople don’t get enough accurate intelligence about their prospects. As a result, their pipelines are filled with flaky opportunities. And your sales managers don’t have enough guts to call them on it.
Here’s the litmus test. When your sales people submit their forecasts, do you or your managers “adjust” them down for realism? It’s typically easier for salespeople and their managers to discuss why they didn’t win business, instead of asking themselves the right questions before going to battle.
Here are some of the right questions:
- “Can we win and should we pursue this opportunity?”
- If yes, how do you know? What is the reasoning? A guess? A hunch?
- “Which strategy should we adopt to ensure that we win and why?
To begin, ask your salespeople: “How much does it cost to win a new account?” Calculate the actual costs associated with generating a lead, a contact, an appointment, a proposal and a sale. Now add in the opportunity cost of missed business they could have won if they weren’t wasting time on business that won’t close quickly.
If you’re like most selling organizations, the cost per pursuit is several hundred or even thousands of dollars. Multiply that by the number of opportunities you chased and didn’t close in the last 12 months. Staggering isn’t it?
Before your sales people charge off to fight the next battle, ask them, “If this was your money, would you spend it?”
Challenge 2: Your sales people don’t do enough planning work before going to battle.
Before going into battle again, make sure your salespeople can answer these questions (honestly):
- What are you trying to sell and most importantly, why? Sounds simple enough until you actually try to quantify it.
- Is the project funded? What if there’s not enough? Who has discretionary use of the funds? Who can get more? Are we speaking to the right person here?
- What is the sale worth to the organization? Does the ROI justify the investment of time, money and effort?
- Have we sold this prospect anything in the past? Who? What? Where? When? How? Why?
- How many contacts have you already had with this contact? How many phone calls, face-to-face meetings and so on? Do you have a clear next step?
- Do you have an organizational chart? Do you have an inside coach?
- What has been (or will be) your sales strategy?
- Where are you in the selling process? Here is a checklist:
- Were you invited in or did you beg for an appointment?
- What were the prospect’s reasons for seeing you?
- What were the challenges, problems, and frustrations that you identified in the interview?
- How important is it to the prospect to fix those problems?
- How committed is the prospect to fixing those problems? (Time, effort, money, willingness to fail?)
- What is the agreement you and the prospect have reached concerning the decisions that will be made each step of the way?
Few salespeople understand the cost of pursuing sales and often fill their funnels with bad business. Fewer think through winning strategies before going into sales “battle”.
Ask your sales people these fundamental sales questions before committing resources to a battle you cannot win.
Successful sales professionals qualify vigorously and religiously before committing time and energy so their closing ratios are 90% or better.
So, what are yours?
Greta Schulz is president of Schulz Business SELLutions in West Palm Beach, Florida. She is the best-selling author of “To Sell is Not to Sell”. Greta does corporate training for fortune 1000 companies and she has an on-line training course for entrepreneurs. For more tips go to: www.schulzbusiness.com.