Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Micro Promises

Most of us keep our big promises, but all too often, we make tons of tiny little “micro-promises” that we either never keep, or that we fulfill, but only with tremendous tardiness.
We say: “I will call you back in five minutes.” Then we call back the next day. We say: “Let’s have lunch soon,” but we never do. We say, “I’m happy to answer any questions that you have,” when we really don’t want to take the time to answer too many questions.
All of these tiny little promises are hard to keep track of. We make so many of them that we cannot possibly honor all of them. And we don’t take them seriously, do we?
We also break promises to ourselves. We say things like:
“I’m going to start going to bed earlier.”
“I’m going to wake up and go to the gym.”
“I’m going to call my mother.”
How many leaders, bosses, and educators make micro-promises that never come true? The answer is: too many! In fact, we take most people’s micro-promises with a grain of salt. When our long-lost friend that we run into at the store promises to call us the following week, we don’t really expect it to happen.
But all of these micro-promises, made to ourselves and to others, chip away at our social and human capital. What do other people think of us when we fail to keep our commitments? Remember that when you interact with other people, you are either building or destroying social capital. When these micro-promises are kept, the mortar that binds your relationships solidifies.
And when you keep the micro-promises that you make to yourself, you validate your own worthiness.
My friend and personal coach Michelle DeAngelis had a conversation about micro-promises, and here are my takeaways:
1. Be mindful about seemingly idle micro-promises. No promise is idle or casual. Someone might be holding you to it, so make the promise only if you can do it. Kathy Kolbe, my friend and creator of the Kolbe System, advises that people should commit, but to very few things. If you are overrun with promises, you cannot fulfill them all. So when you make a promise, big or little, be sure it is one that you can fulfill.
2. Once you commit, set up a mechanism so that you can schedule time to meet that commitment. Put it in your calendar or write it down, right then and there.

3. Finally, make sure that you do not create a culture whereby micro-promises are broken by other people (which may normalize it and/or erode your own emotional wellbeing). When someone makes a micro-promise to you, find out whether they are truly committing. Say something like: “I would love for that to really happen. What should we each do to make it so?”  

This blog also appears on Our Two Cents on 

Monday, November 14, 2016

President-Elect Trump’s Impact on Your Taxes

While some are happy and some are protesting the election of Donald Trump as our next president, one thing is certain: Changes will be made to the tax and business climate. Many are speculating about what might happen, but no one really knows what President-Elect Trump’s administration or the Congress will propose and will pass. So far the domestic markets have responded positively to the possibilities they see in the future. Europe is taking a “wait and see” posture. Both sides of the aisle agree that some sort of infrastructure initiative is necessary.
We would like to share our thoughts about the future:
  1. Overall, we might see a broadening in the tax base subject to tax, but we probably will not see a drastic reduction in everyone’s taxes. Enhanced child-care deductions are likely, as are lowered tax rates and faster write-offs for capital investments. That said, there might be an absolute cap on the amount of itemized deductions allowable, which is why we are skeptical about the likelihood of seeing tremendous reductions in taxes.

  2. Lifting some of the regulations on businesses might make it a bit easier for you to operate and plan for the future. By lifting or moderating some of the regulations under discussion, more new businesses will have a smoother road to success. Likewise, existing business can act more “business-like” and less defensive.

  3. There will be some effort to further eliminate estate and gift taxes for all but the wealthiest of our clients, but it is possible that many people will end up paying more money in taxes related to assets passed between generations. The trade-off will occur because we suspect that adjustments to the income tax basis (for determining gain or loss on the eventual disposition of those assets) will remain the original cost plus capital improvements the original purchaser paid for those assets.

What can you do now?
1. Be watchful and pay attention to not only the rhetoric but also the actual proposals that are floated by those who will be in control of the executive and legislative branches.
2. Be attentive to state and local proposals for both legislation and regulation so you won’t be surprised by state-level changes.
3. Spend time evaluating the human, structural, social, and intellectual capitals of your business and how a changing environment might change your strategies related to each. For instance:
  • Mind your human capital by considering whether proposed changes in regulations will change the way you will deal with your employees. How will changes to the Affordable Care Act (or repealing the Affordable Care Act entirely) impact you? See your employee benefits purveyor to help understand these changes.
  • Protect your intellectual and structural capital. Think thru innovations and other technical issues in your industry. How does technology affect the way you get things done? Are you cyber-secure?
  • What about social capital? Be sure you are speaking to your customers and your vendors about how, if at all, your relationship with them will be impacted by changes that might occur in Washington or your local State House. Keep your customers informed about changes that might come about in your industry that could affect their ability to utilize your value.

Regardless of whether you are celebrating or grieving the new administration, now is a great time to spend a minute and evaluate where you are and where you want to go. The currents move on, even if we want to stand still.

We are thinking about these things and more at Rose, Snyder & Jacobs, and we want to help you be intentional and understand the future so that we can work together to make the best decisions. We stand ready to assist you as you consider what the next four years or more might look like for you, your family, and your businesses.