Baby boomers are the first generation of a new retirement era with the burden of saving the bulk of their retirement income and making those savings last 20 to 30 years. This responsibility is due to the decline in company pensions which shifted saving and investment responsibilities to employees, as well as an increase in life expectancy after attaining adulthood (almost 20% since 1950). The challenge of investing has been particularly difficult in the last five years; a study by Thornburg Investment Management calculated the annual “real return” for many classes of investment during the period as being negative.
The possibility of a future investment environment where inflation remains low and interest rates rise (the opposite of the 1960s to 1980s) producing slower economic growth, projected healthcare expenses not covered by insurance, and the uncertainty of program changes in Social Security and Medicare will result in people continuing to work as long as possible, accelerating their savings in their later years, and seeking maximum returns in their portfolios.
According to Chris Brightman, head of investment management at Research Affiliates, “Baby Boomers are going to work longer than they originally expected. They’re going to have to save more than they planned. And they’re going to have to consume more modestly in retirement.”
Your Investment Options for Retirement
There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of different investment vehicles available. The following list describes the most popular choices, while some investments (such as gold and collectibles) are not listed because, according to Warren Buffett, they are difficult to analyze, lack any productive use, and their future price depends solely on the hope that the next buyer will pay more for the item than the owner paid.
Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” was published in 1936, and is one of the best-selling self-help books of all time with an estimated 15 million copies sold. Some have called the book the bible for building relationships for its insights into human nature.
The principles espoused by Carnegie continue to be valid almost a century later. Why? Because human nature doesn’t change. Each of us wants to feel important and special, and we are naturally drawn to those who make us feel better about ourselves – they are the kind of people we want to be like and be around.
Relationships are especially important in selling products or services and retaining clients. S. Anthony Iannarino, a consultant who works with sales organizations, is blunt about the link between sales and relationships, stating that a salesman is “first and foremost a relationships manager.” The process of using the tools of relationship building to foster sales is generally referred to as “relationship selling.”
In the modern world, people are constantly and continually barraged by other people trying to sell them a product or service. New technology that educates, entertains, and brings us closer means that solicitations – letters, email, Internet ads, catalogs and flyers, phone messages, and television ads – occur around the clock. As a consequence, potential purchasers are wary of product claims and suspicious of the person sponsoring the product. We grow hard shells and practice selective hearing to protect our pocketbooks and our sanity, lowering our guard only to those we trust.
Relationship Selling and Salesmanship
Relationships begin with acquaintances, some of which progress to friendships and fewer still to trusted partners. Relationships evolve as trust grows, ruled by the sense of value that each party imparts to the other. Conflicts invariably arise between two parties, and the ability to resolve conflicts is the test of a relationship. Many salespeople are conflict-adverse and are unable to handle a buyer’s resistance, perhaps because they doubt the value of the products or services they offer to the potential purchaser.
Dictionaries define selling as “persuading or inducing someone to buy, while Wikipedia defines the act of selling as “to trick, cheat, or manipulate someone.” As a consequence, potential purchasers have learned to be wary of product claims and suspicious of the person sponsoring the product. Carnegie, recognizing the impossibility of trying to convince a stranger to buy something he or she neither wants nor needs, stated, “There is only one way under high heaven to get anybody to do anything. Did you ever stop to think of that? Yes, just one way. And that is by making the other person want to do it. The only way I can get you to do anything is by giving you what you want.”
Creating and delivering value to your prospects, customers, friends, and associates is what relationship selling is about. It requires mutual trust between the parties – the purchaser believing that the salesman is telling the truth and proposing a product of genuine value to the buyer; the salesman believing that the purchaser will ultimately reward him for his honesty, diligence, and work on the purchaser’s behalf.
Dr. Armin Falk, an economist at the university of Bonn, proposed a “theory of reciprocity” in the February 2006 issue of “Games and Economic Behavior” in which he proposed that people invariably reward kind actions and punish unkind ones. He claims that people evaluate the kindness of an action not only by its consequences, but also by its underlying intention. His theory explains why results and outcomes tend to be fair (satisfactory to each party) when both parties are mutually active, and unfair when one party coerces the other. Though some might say that the findings were commonsense, the theory is the foundation for relationship selling.
The purpose of communication is to convey information from one person to another. Through the choice of written and spoken words, ideas, concepts, emotions, thoughts, and opinions are exchanged. Unfortunately, miscommunication is common – the listener or reader fails to understand what is said or written. Dale Carnegie, author of “How to Make Friends and Influence People,” said, “90 percent of all management problems are caused by miscommunication.”
When you consider the tensions between men and women, young and old, friends, and family members, it seems that most people are guilty of poor communication. But it’s possible to develop effective communication skills by learning how to speak and write simply and clearly, using plain language that’s easily understood by most people.
“If you have time, try to mow the lawn this afternoon,” said the father as he walked out the door to go to his office. His teenage son, head down, concentrating on breakfast, grunts in reply, “Uh-huh.” To the father’s dismay, the yard remained untouched when he returned home. The son, when confronted by his angry father, excused his lack of action with the explanation, “You said ‘if I had time,’ and I was at the mall all day.”
This scene is repeated every day in thousands of homes across the country. The father was guilty of not saying what he really meant: His intent was to instruct his son to cut the grass that afternoon, even if that meant he had to rearrange his schedule or miss another activity. In an effort to avoid seeming controlling, the father added the false condition “if you have time,” expecting his son to interpret the underlying meaning of his statement. His son naturally focused on the conditional “if you have time,” rather than the direction ”mow the lawn.” As a consequence, both parties felt unfairly treated by the other.
Similar misunderstandings arise at work, in schools, on the playground, and at home. Whether in speaking or writing, misunderstandings arise due to poor word choice and the failure to realize that communication includes two equally critical components: the speaker and the listener, or the writer and the reader. As the NBA Hall of Fame coach of the Boston Celtics Red Auerbach said, “It’s not what you tell them…it’s what they hear.”
Historically, exchanges of value – barter systems – were done face-to-face so that participants could instantly verify the respective physical properties being exchanged. As purchasers and sellers became geographically distant, agents or trusted third-parties acting on behalf of the participants became necessary to verify the quantity or quality of the property being transferred. For example, credit card issuers are examples of a third-party standing in for a buyer, guaranteeing to the seller that the buyer’s funds are good.
The growth of the Internet and the proliferation of digital transactions have exposed many limitations to traditional currencies and exchange systems in the borderless, electronic world. Current limitations include high expenses, time delays, and security risks. These limitations are particularly egregious when the transactions involve parties on each side of the globe, different national currencies, and complex products.
The idea of an international currency – independent of a country or central bank and designed for a globalized economy – has fascinated economists, business executives, computer experts, and anti-government advocates for years. The ideal currency would provide anonymity to its holders, protection from inflation, and security from theft and fraud. These ideals led to the concept of a digital currency, enabling the concept of cash or cash equivalent to be used over the Internet.
Bitcoins (BTC), the latest and most popular outcome of efforts to create a practical digital currency, first appeared in 2009 with an initial issue of 2,625,000. As of December 7, 2013, there were 12,091,050 BTCs, each with a value of $736.61 USD.
The website Shopify recently listed 75 specialty retailers that accept bitcoins, and Forbes announced its “Top 10 Bitcoin Merchant Sites,” including website development software developer WordPress. Even Baidu, Inc., China’s biggest search engine, accepted bitcoins until the nation’s central bank banned the use or ownership of the currency by financial institutions.
Description of Bitcoins
According to Anthony Gallippi, CEO of Bitpay payment processor, “Bitcoin is a more secure, faster, and more affordable option for transferring funds.” In technical terms, bitcoins are a math-based, finite, verifiable, open-sourced, decentralized virtual currency that relies upon cryptography for security. Read more . . .