Reflecting on 2015

Casual Observations

This is a casual observation, not based on any scientific research but…this seems to be the first year that retailers really felt the impact of online buying. Consumers will still go to the stores to touch, feel, look at and listen to products, and to some extent, to buy them. For many, the ease of buying online compared to looking for a parking space and standing in a checkout line, is just too attractive. I know that’s the case at our home.

In economic news, GDP grew at an annual rate of 2% during Q3. Consumer spending held up well, and inventory accumulation was negative, as businesses work to manage dollars tied up in inventory, and reduce what many get to pay taxes on at year end. Annualized inflation was just 1.3% during Q3, and personal income was up 0.3% in November.

Earlier this year, the DOL issued new guidelines regarding Independent Contractors. On July 15, David Weil, Administrator for the US Dept. of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, issued an Administrator’s Interpretation concerning the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The memo specifically addressed the test to determine if an individual is an employee or an independent contractor.

This new interpretation is an aggressive interpretation of Independent Contractor, and concludes that most workers are employees under the FLSA’s broad definitions. Interestingly, the DOL, contrary to protocol, declined to submit this new interpretation for comment by the public. If you’d like a summary of this new interpretation, let us know and we will forward it to you.

Over the weekend, I began reading a history of the Leningrad Symphony and its composer, Dmitri Shostakovich. Shostakovich came of age in St. Petersburg Russia, just as Lenin and Stalin were taking over from Tsar Nicholas II. It’s difficult for me not to draw comparisons between this overbearing edict by DOL, and the behavior exhibited by Stalin and his goons.

The Third Bucket, a parable co-authored by yours truly and Rick Cope, is a short parable about the positive life impact of learning to give from assets rather than cash flow. It recently finished in the top ten for self-published books, according to Outskirts Press. You can learn more, and order your copy, at www.thethirdbucket.com, or wherever books are sold.

As we wrap up another year, we often make the opportunity to stop and reflect on the year we are finishing, and the one ahead of us. Some thoughts along those lines.

It must be human tendency for each of us to judge ourselves based on our worst moments, and to give ourselves too little credit for those things we do well. Or, perhaps that’s just a function of specific personality types. For those Type A’s or High D’s in particular, my encouragement would be to extend to yourself the grace you so willingly extend to others.

Life ebbs and flows, some years are deemed better than others, and there are lowlights and highlights. This seems to be the case whether we are reflecting on relationships, our business or work life, our financial statements, or our health. There are years where all seems to go wrong, and others where we are hitting on all cylinders. I expect for most of us, each year is a mix.

What’s interesting is that from those experiences that felt so difficult, can come lessons that multiply the quality of life as we move forward. We definitely don’t want to repeat those difficult times, yet we wouldn’t trade what we learned for anything.

Quote of the week:
“In spite of discouragement and adversity, those who are happiest seem to have a way of learning from difficult times, becoming stronger, wiser, and happier as a result.” – Joseph B. Wirthlin

Randy_Blog

Randy Brunson
Randy Brunson is the founding shareholder of Centurion Advisory Group. Mr. Brunson
has invested most of his thirty five year career in the area of financial services.

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