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Marty's Musings

…on College Basketball Playoffs…civility…and patriotism…

According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the 2017 March College Basketball Playoffs will cost employers upwards on $6.3 Billion in lost productivity. When I was in management that lost productivity in my offices was an irritant. But perhaps that is the wrong metric.

A group of 7 men from my church attended 3 days of the first round of this year's tournament. For the most part we met each other for the first time that weekend. We watched lots of basketball, ate too much and spent time learning about each other. It was priceless.

It struck me while sitting among the 18,000 fans at Bankers Life Fieldhouse how well everyone got along, not just at the game but along the sidewalks and eating establishments. While 64 schools are represented in the first round, there are multiples of that number of schools represented in the stands. Everyone has favorites and no one want to lose a game, but the spirit and civility of the crowd impressed me.

It was a moment that caused me to believe these 3 weeks in March might be the most unifying single event in our country.

March 2017


…On ANYWAY

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you.
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone may destroy overnight.
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough.
Give the world the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.

The above was adapted from a quote hung on the wall of a children's home served by Mother Teresa and Dr. Kent M. Keith's Paradoxical Commandments.

April 2016


…on a grateful optimist… with contagious enthusiasm

Enduring notes, cards and calls from decades of friends and co-workers include descriptions such as … Mr. Woodstock… passionate about everything… role model as a husband and father… great guy with a quick smile… firm handshake… always a good word… encouraging… mentor… guide… inspirational… generous… dedicated community leader… the pillar (not a pillar) of the community…

The Mayor of Woodstock said, "His contributions to the community were so substantial that to identify any as the most important would be inappropriate. There's no question he encouraged and established the standard of community citizenship for the rest of us. He really set the standard."

He believed deeply that it was a responsibility and a privilege to contribute to the community which provided his living. To that end he was a leader in many projects and organizations working to improve the town he loved and believed was the best place to live in the world.

He loved his career and often said, "This can't be work. It's too much fun." He viewed his talent as a way to help people improve the quality of their lives and took pride that his office provided a fun work environment and income for many families. Perhaps as much as his career, he loved his � mile walk to and from the office each day. It gave him a chance to chat with folks along the way and admire the beautiful town square.

God called dad home on March 22, 2015. "I can only imagine what it must be like…" But my guess is dad's first words might have been, "Jean. This place is great. Doesn't it remind you of Woodstock?"

April 2015


…on a new year… and resolutions…

New Year's resolutions have always seemed a bit strange to me. If it is important to change a bad habit or state a new good habit, why wait until the morning of January 1st each year? All events have a starting point, so perhaps we are conditioned to use January 1st as our "Resolution Starting Line." On the other hand, all events have a finish point and we shouldn't want our resoultions to have a finish line.

One of the better resoultions I've heard was on K-Love radio; "Choose one word and focus on it all year. So rather than being overwhelmed with clutter, live by one word that will change your life an the lives of those around you."

Click here for a practical outline to help review and organize your finances. Let us know how we can help.

Have a new year filled with blessings…when you are ready, let me know your "word"…

January 2015


…on priceless freedom

"Bastogne" is my favorite episode in the HBO series, Band of Brothers. It is a story of indescribable courage, selfless determination, unconditional sacrifice and uncompromising honor. With very little ammunition and improper winter gear, the 101st Airborne was ordered to "hold the line" against German tanks and artillery during the frigid winter offensive of the Battle of the Bulge. It is also a humbling reminder of our priceless freedom.

As our economy slowly crawls its way out of the most challenging circumstances in three generations, our flag reminds me that three generations ago, the 101st Airborne, and millions of others, willingly risked everything so that we might enjoy our freedom. We still live in greatest free society in history. God has indeed shed His grace on us.

Happy 4th of July!

July 2014


…Frozen in time

If there was a moment in time that I could freeze so that our family could enjoy it forever, it would be now. As the sun is setting it is casting a brilliant spotlight on the most resplendent colors that I can recall. Oak trees are standing majestically with their rust and green colors perfectly harmonized. Maples are flaring bright reds, mellowing yellows, and flashing silver with the changing winds. Short grass is vibrant green, and prairie grass is flowing like amber waves of grain. The fields are 2/3rds harvested and are a peaceful reminder of our overflowing blessings for which we are entrusted but so undeserving. And God's Angels are beginning to paint another sunset that can't possibly be captured on canvass, film, or pixels.

We are indeed most richly blessed, and I am grateful.

October 2013


…On good neighbors…and civility

When I was young, I was awestruck by the neighborly support of farmers; I still am. The issue that caught my attention was how area farmers left their own fields and all arrived with their combines and equipment to bring in the harvest for the widow of a farmer. They were organized and purposeful. They displayed a respect that is characteristic of servant�s hearts. They would not consider accepting payment for their time or their fuel.

As we approach one of the most contentious elections of our lifetime, I am proud of the civility I see among neighbors. People living next to each other have signs displayed for opposing candidates, and the signs are undisturbed.

In a few weeks, the campaign signs will be removed and the advertizing barrage will have ended. And we will still live in the greatest free society in history… and next to our good neighbors.

November 2012


…on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It comes to us following the magnificent colors of autumn and reminds us that life offers a continuous stream of new seasons and new hope. It is also a holiday that seems to incorporate all other holidays.

But most significant to me is the reminder that we still live in the greatest free society in history. We have so much in which to give thanks. Truly our cup overflows with blessings and we are indeed fortunate to live in a land of opportunity made available by those who have come before us.

My prayer is that you will remember and be grateful for all that we have, be mindful of the less fortunate and look forward with great enthusiasm to future opportunities.

November 2011


…on traditions…and history

As we gather during this extended weekend to celebrate our country's independence with traditions of family, picnics and fireworks remember to be grateful for all those who made our freedom possible. We continue to live in the greatest free society in history.

Following are a few fun quips:

  • Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national animal but was outvoted when John Adams and Thomas Jefferson chose the bald eagle.
  • Over an estimated 150 million hot dogs will be consumed on July 4th. That's roughly one dog for every two people in the United States.
  • Calvin Coolidge is the only U.S. president born on the 4th of July. He was born in 1872.
  • $190.7 million – The value of fireworks imported from China in 2010, representing the bulk of all U.S. fireworks imported ($197.3 million). U.S. exports of fireworks, by comparison, came to just $37.0 million in 2010, with Japan purchasing more than any other country ($6.3 million).
  • John Hancock was the only person to actually sign the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. The other 55 signers did not sign it until August 2nd or even later.
  • 125,000 – The number of U.S. flags flown over the U.S. Capitol last year at the request of House and Senate members. On July 4 alone, 1,200 were flown.
  • "Nothing important happened today." – Diary entry by King George III on July 4, 1776
  • $3.2 million – The dollar value of U.S. imports of American flags in 2010. The vast majority of this amount ($2.8 million) was for U.S. flags made in China. While $486,026 is the value of U.S. flags exported in 2010. Mexico was the leading customer, purchasing $256,407 worth.
  • The national anthem is set to the tune of an old English drinking song called, "To Anacreon in Heaven".
  • Five places have "America" in their names. The most populous is American Fork, Utah (26,263). Eleven places have "Independence" in their names. The most populous one is Independence, Mo. (116,830).

Sources: census.gov, yumsugar.com, examiner.com, maximumfx.com, mbd.scout.com

July 2011


…on racing, picnics and gratitude…

Close to one half million fans will gather at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday and wait enthusiastically for the traditional call, "Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines." The hours leading up to the start of this 100th anniversary of the Indy 500 will be filled with the pageantry of marching bands and a parade of celebrities circling the 2 � mile oval.

Ramping up the patriotism is the singing of "America the Beautiful," "God Bless America," and our national anthem which concludes with the roar of a low altitude military flyover. That crescendo leads into a rifle volley, Taps and a moment of silence to honor our fallen heroes, which always brings a lump to my throat as I thank God for all who have sacrificed to make America the great country that we are.

We use Memorial Day weekend as the traditional start of our summer. It is a time when we slow down, we spend time with family and friends, we break bread together and we remember.

We are most richly blessed.

May 2011


… on “The Great American Spirit.”

In this age of accelerating communication and news sources, we are inundated with opinions and spins about the state of the economy, the markets and the direction of our country. All too often the information we receive is more about selling advertising or supporting an agenda than providing us with information that is useful for long term decision making.

It strikes me that very few reports these days celebrate the greatness of our American Spirit and how that spirit has always been the catalyst that moves us out of difficult times back into long periods of prosperity.

Our Great American Spirit won our independence as a nation; it was the driving force that built the railway system from the Atlantic to the Pacific; it was the healing spirit that put our nation back together after the war between states; it was the deciding factor in two unwinnable world wars; it was the ambition to put a man on the moon; and it makes us world leaders in sending relief, both home and abroad, to those suffering from natural disasters.

My team is looking into the economic and market similarities of 1937 and 1977 (the year I started in this business). Those periods were separated by two generations, about the same as 1977 until today. Whether or not these next few years represent the same types of opportunities as the periods following 1937 and 1977, I believe that our Great American Spirit is very much alive and will surprise us to the upside, as it always has.

September 2010


… On values and freedom…

We gathered at Oswego Prairie Church one final time on Sunday the 27th of June. The church was founded 162 years ago by my great-great-great-great grandfather. On the final Sunday for that congregation, my cousin’s twin grandchildren were baptized (by my father’s first cousin) marking eight generations of family in that church.

It struck me that the deep family roots and sense of community in that small rural church are emblematic of what has made our country great.

As we celebrate the independence of our great country, I am mindful of and grateful for all who made this life possible. And I am prayerful that we hold onto our values for the sake of the generations who follow us.

July 2010