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Inspiration My Two Cents

Living the Dream

“The soft-minded man always fears change. He feels security in the status quo, and he has an almost morbid fear of the new. For him, the greatest pain is the pain of a new idea.” As we celebrate Martin Luther King Junior’s birthday and legacy, I pulled up some of his quotes. His Dream Speech is one we know and hear but, as is the case with people, he was a lot more than one moment. Dr. King’s commitment to service and justice are examples to live by.

When Dr. King was alive, he was not always popular but he kept on because, as he said, “When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. ” Doing what he felt was right was often very hard for Dr. King. When I say hard, I don’t mean hard like when someone, like me, who is not a morning person, wakes up before the chickens in order to get my morning run in before my workday. I mean hard like if you decide to stand up for what is just, it may lead to the imprisonment, harm, or death of you and maybe even some of your loved ones. Dr. King, and those who he worked with, made unimaginable sacrifices in the service of others.

Sometimes, the thought of action can be so overwhelming that it keeps you in the thinking (and maybe watching videos about it) phase. When I first started running long distances, the furthest I had run was around four miles and I was spent at the end of those miles. Even though I watched New York Marathoners run past my block and they looked like regular folk, I believed they must be exceptional beings because, as far as I was concerned, regular folk couldn’t possibly run further than five miles without collapsing. I met a woman who urged me to start with trying to complete a 10k race and see how that went. Then she suggested a half marathon. You should have seen me at the end of that half marathon! You’d think I had found the answer to all life’s problems, that’s how elated I was. I then decided to tackle the marathon. As I had conquered each mile, I believed more and more that regular old me could be one of those running down Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn, on my way to completing the New York Marathon. It took the little things to get to the greatness of the marathon. To get to that though, I had to inch from under the massive shadow of intimidation and inch slowly to 26.2 miles. It wasn’t always steps forward; I have lost count of how many times injury and illness have taken me back to mile one. However, I do know now that not even trying is so much worse.

Dr. King knew that service is not an easy thing to dive into and often we are so overwhelmed by all that needs to be done that we end up doing nothing. We don’t have to save the world all on our own. If we all do what we can, together we can do amazing things. In the words of Dr. King, “Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve… You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” Even during this pandemic, there are opportunities every day to serve and you don’t even have to figure it all out on your own. Organizations such as Americorps can help link you up with opportunities and there is an incredible range of ways in which you can serve, from sending card and letters to those who feel alone, to donating to food and clothing drives. You can also welcome and encourage service in others. When someone does something good for you, even if you don’t need it, show your appreciation and resolve to pay it forward. When someone holds a door open for you, it’s not because they think you don’t know how to open a door, it is a way of showing, in a small way, that they see you and want to do a nice thing for you. That a great thing. Don’t limit yourself to just the one day. May the National Day of Service be a reminder of the value of serving every day. Each of our small acts will bring positive change.

There are books, films, a podcasts about Martin Luther King Jr. I wouldn’t know where to start in recommendations. What I can say is that each time read, watch, or listen to something on Dr. King, I learn something new. I learn more about him, about the Civil Rights movement, and about those around him. Part of the Civil Rights movement is path to a place where more voices are heard and valued, and one marvelous gift that comes with hearing more voices is that we get to see and learn history through different sets of eyes. There is the parable of the blind men and the elephant. Each blind man felt a different part of the elephant and came away believing that they knew what an elephant was. They argued with each other, each believing that they knew the elephant. Yet, the full picture of the elephant could only come through their collective knowledge. So take the time to find a new facet of the life and times of Martin Luther King Jr. and understand not only the impact of the good he did but also the remarkable challenges he faced throughout his life to his early passing. Celebrate Dr. King’s legacy and “Never, never be afraid to do what’s right”.

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My Two Cents PSA Running

Get It Covered

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I am in and, healthy body permitting, I shall be running the New York Marathon on 3 November this year. As I have now committed to my training, which is very time-consuming and involves a whole lot of running, you may find that a number of my posts will mention running, in addition to financial forensics.

Before I head out on my long weekend run, I pull out a tube of Beljum Budder skin lubricant and apply it to any part of my body that I believe is vulnerable to chafing. Let me explain how chafing, while running long distances, happens. Long distance running involves spending long periods of time, usually hours for those of us who are not elite runners, engaged in repetitive body movements. This means parts of our bodies will, over and over again, rub, either against each other or against the fabric of our clothing.These small actions can end up rubbing layers of skin off our bodies, causing pain and sometimes bleeding. There are two things that lead me to believe that a certain body part is susceptible to chafing: first is that I have received this information from fellow runners and second is that I have been chafed. Yesterday, for example, I got home to find that I had rubbed skin off my arm, where I had strapped a water bottle, and off my back (I am not sure how that happened). As a result, these two areas have been added to the list of what to protect before heading out on my runs. Once I know that a part of my body runs the risk of being chafed, I protect it. I don’t wait to see if it will be chafed again or if the fellow runner was being too cautious. I protect it all. I try to be proactive about preventing the chafe. This is because, even though I tend not to feel it while it is happening, once the running is over, chafing hurts. A lot. It is something I am very motivated to keep from happening.

This is how it should be with your personal and business finances. At the start of when people steal from you, they tend to take a little at a time. They do this on purpose because they don’t want you to notice that they are exploring, exposing and exploiting the weaknesses in your safeguarding system. They don’t want you to notice that they are stealing from you. They want to get away with it and continue stealing. So you should be proactive about protecting your assets. You should follow a two-pronged approach where you take the steps generally advised and also take firm steps whenever you find particular weaknesses in your system. Some pointers to follow are:

  • If you come across a party stealing from you, perform an investigation to discover the extent of the theft and, if need be, hire a financial forensics professional to perform the investigation.
  • Take steps to prevent future theft. This may include pressing charges against the thief or terminating their employment (if they are employee).
  • Assess your control systems to find where there are holes are and close them. In a company small things like the separation of duties, regular reviews of the financials by more than one party and keeping tangible assets under lock and key go a long way toward protecting assets.
  • Conversely, don’t make your accounting system overly complex. The more complex a system is, the fewer people there will be that understand it, giving potential criminal many ways to hide any pilfering of money and assets they may do.
  • Keep an eye out for employees living beyond their means. For example, if you have an employee who earns $30,000 a year but drives a Porsche, it may be smart to investigate whether or not you are the unwitting benefactor.
  • Protecting your personal finances is important as well. Check your bank and credit card accounts regularly, at least on a weekly basis. I don’t know of a bank that does not offer online access to its customers, so take advantage of it and stay on top of what is going on in your account. If you see a transaction that looks unfamiliar, look into to and call your bank if need be. That’s your money so don’t be shy about making sure you have authorized withdrawals.
  • If you are an individual with complicated or substantial assets, it makes sense to seek the advice and services of a financial professional.

Protect yourself. Take the steps to strengthen the systems you have to keep your assets safe and, whenever you find vulnerabilities, take extra proactive steps. You do not want to find a big gaping hole in your finances. I am guessing that, in the same way chafing does, that big old hole will hurt. A lot.