Large Life Lessons – Unprecedented Times

What a world we live in! It seems like challenges and frustrations are coming at us from every direction. I learned a long time ago that whenever I am frustrated, I’m about to learn a lesson. The more frustrated, the larger the lesson. I will always be grateful for my “experience wealth”.

Earlier this week I was at Ivar’s, East Lake Sammamish, waiting to pick up our “to go” family dinner, and I ran into a local second grade teacher. While we waited outside (maintaining the appropriate social distance), we exchanged some stories. Actually, we shared several stories as Ivar’s was very busy that night.

This teacher told me a story she shared with her students, in one of those last classes (at the school) before the kids went online. She was preparing them to attend class remotely, learn alone, and remind them that connecting was still so very important.

With a big smile, she conveyed how she asked her students to each blow up a balloon and write their own name on it. Mary took the balloons and tossed them all in the hallway. While interested, the children were perplexed. She told her students that they had five minutes to go into the hallway and find their own balloon. After five minutes of chaos, no one had their own balloon. She took the students back into the classroom, leaving the balloons in the hallway. She then asked the students to go back out into the hall, pick up any balloon, read the name, and then find that balloon’s owner. All of the students had the balloon with their own name and were back in class in less than two minutes.

It’s all about how we work together, whether it’s personal/family related or business!

Even though we’ve been “quarantined”, we’ve found ways to connect. I watched (attended?) a wedding via ZOOM with dozens online and with 6 physical attendees. I was a physical attendee at a ZOOM-broadcasted funeral, with 8 attendees physically attending a funeral. It’s a different world, with different expectations and experiences, but we can still connect.

Mary the teacher’s story reminded me of a woman that I met mid-April on a Friday morning at 7am at Newark airport getting off a red eye enroute to the funeral I mentioned.

It was an odd day in that I was one of 12 on my flight (the plane had 250 available seats). I got off the plane and headed to pick up my rental car and experienced something I had never felt before. There was no one, no human, to be seen in Newark airport. I traveled on an empty train to get to the terminal. I moved across multiple floors – and no one.

Then, I met Janet, the service agent at AVIS, an actual human. In talking with her, I learned that she is the only person in her family, in her household, who is currently earning an income. She lives at home with 2 married adult kids living close by, with kids of their own, her treasured grandchildren. Again, she is the ONLY adult in her family working and bringing home money as the three other working adults had been laid off due to the economic shut down.

While we chatted, she explained that after a long shift at work, she went grocery shopping on a special mission for her granddaughter. Her granddaughter very much wanted orange juice. After her shift, Mary went to multiple stores searching for orange juice. After over 4 hours of waiting in line and searching 3 grocery stores, she found no OJ, NONE. There was no orange juice. Janet needs some help – not just with juice, but with the huge load she’s carrying. She’s dividing her pay supporting three households until an unemployment check shows up. She’s their sole source of income, as these families had sparse savings.

There are many people like Janet at the Avis counter, and they need help. Those of us reading this are the leaders. Our families and communities need our help. That’s why I want to share with you a blog about helping: How to Help Parents & Yourself Live Better Later in Life. We don’t have to do this alone.

Our country is unprecedented in finding new ways to help small businesses (The CARES Act), realizing that small businesses employ approximately half of the people in this country; and I believe truly represent a key part of the spirit of America. While maybe not perfectly executed, billions of dollars are being put in the hands of small business owners, meeting the goal of allowing more people to continue working. It’s gotten bad folks. In our state of Washington, during the height of the 2008/2009 recession, the January 2009 unemployment was approximately 250,000 people. Today, it’s reported at about 1 million people out of work. Despite the daunting numbers, with the government working with the business community through the CARES Act, businesses are being able to reinvent themselves, approach their business a bit differently, and continue moving forward. One great example is Dennis at Blazing Bagels. Before COVID, his wholesale Bagel producing facility with a retail restaurant attached was packed with people. After the shutdown, empty. But Dennis is quite innovative. He is in the process of reworking his business, and hiring back all of his employees to provide bagels to go and for delivery. Because of his innovation and with the help of CARES, Blazing Bagels is contributing to a solution and plans on flourishing. Since I love their bagels and lox, that’s good news for me on Sunday mornings!

For an excellent summary of the entire CARES Act, check out this attorney/CPA prepared memo for GWM : The CARES Act.

Remember, we’re all in this together. Our relationships are CORE assets, more important than Financial assets to most. Consider joining us at one of our next online events with a guest. Remember that guest you invite may not have a plan like yours, supplied by a fiduciary with only the best interest of the client in mind. In addition to other relevant and current subjects, we will review the CARES Act as well as review other incredibly helpful resources as we tackle the next chapter of COVID in America, and of course as a relationship to you they will be eligible for our second opinion service or even a more concise stress test if they have a specific issue on their mind.

Best Always,
With Gratitude,

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