I can blink and remember so clearly the sweet, red-headed little boy who spread his Lego sets all over my living room floor, and scored Brewer games with the diligence of a professional statistician. I look up (way up) at him now, but still see the little guy who wrote me a poem more than a dozen years ago, “I have a best friend and she is my Grandma.” The poem hangs on my kitchen wall and I’m never taking it down. I’ve built my business by preparing people for transitional times like these. We plan, invest, analyze, save and plan some more to make each season of life as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. In this way, I know Caleb and his family are ready for the next step. His parents, teachers and coaches also have prepared him well for college and I know he’ll make the most of his time there. So, I’m not worried about him, I’m just a little sad for the rest of us. Caleb is heading off into an exciting new world where innovations I can’t even imagine will become part of his everyday life. These are exiting times for high school graduates, and I’m thrilled by their possibilities. But, I’m also going to miss my friend. Congratulations to Caleb and the Class of 2017! May God bless you tonight and always.
One of the most important legacies we can leave our children is a solid work ethic. Often in our industry we see parents diligently create a financial plan that will leave their children a healthy estate. Less common is the parent who also instills in his or her child the means to handle that inheritance. A new normal is looming in the United States and we need to equip our children properly. Just as we make regular deposits into our 401(k) plans and college funds, we need to make consistent efforts to encourage healthy habits in our children. We need to teach them to be as proud of their sweat as they are of their medals. In the classroom, at the dinner table and on the sporting field, parents should demand an honest effort. Applaud the process before accepting the prize. Teach your children that there is value in hard work and honor in achieved goals. Don’t be afraid to allow them to struggle because they’ll find such joy in their own success. Many loving and well-meaning parents work hard to make life easy for their families. While I admire the effort, I think this is a mistake. Aspects I consider essential to include in your child’s portfolio of ethics are the courage to try new things, the strength to work hard and these three simple steps to success: 1) Say please and thank you 2) Do what you say 3) Finish what you start