Tuesday, March 27, 2007

10 Steps to Better Communication

1. Listen!
You've heard it before; you have two ears and one mouth. Listen twice as much as you talk. Listening is twice as important to effective
communication as speaking is.

2. Hear!
To simply listen is not to hear. Hearing requires empathy and openmindedness. Pay close attention and don't let your prejudices or mental chatter get in the way of hearing someone else's message.

3. Speak your truth!
When you do talk, don't waste words. Say what is on your mind. Speak your truth plainly and clearly. Don't just recycle the common claptrap that is going around. If you do not know what your truth is, keep quiet.

4. Get empathy!
The fastest way into someone's heart and mind is to become empathetic. Show care, consideration and compassion for your fellow human beings. Your empathy for them will develop their empathy for you and then you can communicate your message heart-to-heart and mind-to-mind without barriers and filters getting in the way.

5. Get charisma!
Why do some people seem to have more presence than others? Because they are 100% present. Stand out from the crowd by being in the moment. Be here, now! Look people in the eye. Have a firm and warm handshake. Focus your energy on the now moment.

6. Paint a picture!
Most people are visual. Help them to see what you mean. Use the words that others use. They get it quicker. If they say, " Yes, I can see that," then you need to use visual imagery in your language.

7. Tell a story!
Some people are auditory. Assist them to hear what you mean. If they say, "Yes I hear what you are saying," then you need to use words that make sense to them. 'It sounds like', 'Music to my ears', etc.

8. Evince emotion!
Some people are kinesthetic (feelers). Aid them in feeling the meaning of what you say. Use the language they relate to. If they say, "Yes, that feels right to me", then you must help them to get your message where it counts…in their heart. Grab yourself an NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) primer and start using the basics.

9. The eyes have it!
Look people in the eye when you talk to them…for two reasons…one, you demonstrate your respect and attention, and two, you can pretty much tell if they are telling you the truth as they see it. You can also tell the nature of their personality. Like grandma used to say, 'The eyes are the windows to the soul.'

10. Say what you mean. Mean what you say!
Leave the lies, dissemination and the BS to the politicians. Speak your truth plainly and simply and then, plainly and simply, follow through on what you say. What you do speaks louder than what you say. People will remember one broken commitment and forget ten kept ones. If you are not going to do it, then don't say you will.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

10 Steps to a Great Relationship

1. Allow!
Too many people attempt to change their partner. Change yourself and allow your partner to be who they are and become what they may. Even though you are sharing your lives and sharing a pathway, each must be free to travel at their own pace and take their own detours.

2. Accept!
Accept that men and women are different. Accept that individuals are different. Accept the love that is given. Accept the gifts that are offered. Accept that your partner is your mirror. The faults you see are likely also your own. The beauty you see is likely also your own.

3. Uplift!
Praise rather than criticize. Exalt rather than denigrate. Encourage rather than dishearten. Be compassionate rather than judgmental. Empower rather than control.

4. Be romantic!
Courtship and seduction should never stop. Compliment. Give a flower. Hold hands. Share ideals. Dine by candlelight. Walk in the moonlight. Share a sunset. Whisper sweet nothings. Say, "I love you", every day.

5. Touch!
Pat, pet, caress, cuddle, embrace, hug, massage your partner. A gentle touch in passing can mean more than words. A hug can fix a wounded spirit. A cuddle can fix all that's wrong with the world. And yes, make love too. Sex can be the best form of communication. Good sex can merge your souls. Regular sex helps you live longer and be healthier.

6. Communicate!
You may have been living together for 50 years but she/he cannot read your mind. If you are growing at all, you will need to share that with your partner or risk growing apart. Speak your hopes and dreams. Speak your fears and doubts. Speak your expectations. Speak your love.

7. Respect!
Self-respect is vital to avoid abusive relationships and co-dependent relationships. Respect and honor your partner, as you would like to be respected and honored. You are each sacred and your relationship is sacred.

8. Laugh!
If you can share a least one laugh every day, you will have fewer tears. A sense of humor is mandatory to survive life without bitterness; it is more than mandatory to survive a relationship. Almost everything you think is so important today will be a joke in a few years. Laugh about your foibles today. Why wait?

9. Learn!
The more you learn about each other, the more you can love, respect and honor who the other person is. The more you learn about life together, the more you will share. The more you learn, the more you grow. Grow together by learning together.

10. Love!
In order to be capable of loving another fully, you must first fall in love with you. Love yourself unconditionally and you become capable of loving another unconditionally. Unconditional love is freedom and fulfillment. Love is the highest thing you can aspire to. If anything in life is worth striving for, it is the ability to love more and more each and every day.

Bonus! Forgive!
You will hurt each other. Forgiveness is more than essential, it is mandatory. Every little grudge held drives a wedge between you. Forgive each other. Every little guilt builds a wall between you. Forgive yourself.
Forgiveness is a divine attribute. Approach the divine; practice forgiveness.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

10 Steps to Spiritual Health and Vitality

1. Learn to revere yourself!
Act as if you were sacred. Because you are. Your body is a temple. Treat it as such. Your mind is a cathedral. Sing your psalms and pay your alms there.

2. Learn to revere everything!
Act as if everything were sacred. Because it is. Only the spiritually immature can possibly revere a divinity and not revere its creation — all of it. You can decide what you like or prefer or love, but you can't decide that some things are sacred and others are not. Either all of creation is sacred or none of it is.

3. Relish life!
Life is your gift. It is not to be distained, denigrated or denied. It is to be relished, enjoyed and honored. If you are inclined to pay homage to a creator, do it by demonstrating your appreciation for the gift of life. While you are at, relish, respect and appreciate ALL life.

4. Contribute!
Just maybe, one of the things you are here to do is to be of service. Find a way to contribute to life. Give the gift of who you are to your fellow creatures. Enhance the quality of life of other people. Ennoble your fellow humans.

5. Practice compassion!
If all things, including all living things and all other people are just as sacred as you, then it follows that the best thing you can do is to be
compassionate and allowing. Love!

6. Meditate!
Nothing gets you closer to the divine than meditation. It is said that when you pray, you are talking to the divine, but when you meditate, you are listening to the divine. Stop talking, get quiet, be still and listen. You might just hear something very important.

7. Opt out of your cult!
No one holds a franchise on The Truth. No church, no religion, no philosophy, no spiritual teaching owns The Truth. Pick whatever truth
serves you and use it, but recognize that it is just your truth amongst many. If someone tells you that they know a truth, listen. They might have something of value for you. If someone tells you they know The Truth, run away fast before they steal your soul, your mind and your wallet.

8. Get awestruck!
Teach yourself to see the awesome beauty of creation. Get wide-eyed innocent awe of creation. See the miracle. Being blasé about your
existence in the universe is idiocy. If the profound beauty of a flower doesn't blow you away, think about a billion, billion galaxies, all containing a billion, billion stars.

9. Practice gratitude!
Your best prayer is the expression of gratitude for life and all it has to offer. Say thank you every day for every day.

10. Develop a relationship with the divine!
Grow up. You do not need to have some parental god or goddess to approve or disapprove of who you are and what you do. You do not need some guru or preacher to interpret the divine. You can have a direct relationship with the divine. The kingdom is within you.

Bonus! Practice forgiveness.
Forgive everything. Yourself. Your world. Other people in your life. Events and circumstances. Trials and tribulations. Forgiveness frees you to move forward. Forgiveness frees you to grow. Forgiveness frees you to love and be loved. Love really is all you need. It is the answer to everything.
Remember this line, "Forgive them for they know not what they do." Try it on for size. It might fit

Sunday, February 18, 2007

101Real Money Questions

101Real Money Questions
The African American Financial Question and Answer Book


I’d like to thank especially Carole Hall, editor in chief, African American Books, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.; Tony Rose, publisher and CEO, Amber Books Publishing;Yvonne Rose, senior editor, Amber Books Publishing;Lynette McMillon, the Tushe Group,my publicist, for her diligence and dedication to this project; Jan Miller,my literary agent; Tavis Smiley of the Tavis Smiley Foundation; and Denise Pines of the Tavis Smiley Foundation.

I have not attempted to cite in the text all the authorities and sources consulted in the preparation of this book. The list would include departments of the federal government, libraries, industrial institutions, periodicals, and many individuals. Scores of people have contributed information, illustrations, and inspirations toward the publishing of 101 Real Money Questions: The African American Financial Question and Answer Book.

About the Author

Jesse B. Brown is a graduate of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois,where he was named Alumnus of the Year. He is the past president of the National Association of Securities Professionals—Chicago Chapter and has earned Investment Adviser of the Year honors from one of the largest mutual fund companies in America.

Before joining the financial services industry, Brown served as Special Assistant to the President of the Joint Center for Political Studies in Washington, D.C., and as Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under President Jimmy Carter. He later joined Kidder Peabody as a stockbroker specializing in municipal markets.

Jesse B.Brown is known as one of the country’s most renowned financial planners. He is president/CEO and Midwest managing director of Krystal Investment Management, Inc., which oversees millions of dollars in mutual funds, stocks, and bonds for its investor clients. According to Brown:“As African Americans,we must realize the significance of paying ourselves first and investing in ourselves, our families, our children, our schools, our churches, our businesses, and our communities.We must see ourselves realistically in our society and project what we want to be and put the plan in order.Then, we, as a burgeoning and vibrant independent people, will begin to see most of our goals and commitments realized.”

Jesse B. Brown has written 101 Real Money Questions: The African American Financial Question and Answer Book as the third step in your journey toward financial independence. His first book, Investing in the Dream, was a bestseller on Essence magazine’s Black Board Best Seller’s List for hardcover nonfiction books and was selected as the 2001 Chicago Black Book Fair’s Book of the Year. His second book, Pay Yourself First: The African American Guide to Financial Success and Security, was a top 10 nonfiction Essence magazine pick, a national bestseller, and again selected as the 2002 Chicago Black Book Fair’s Book of the Year.


For years I have been preaching to Black folk the importance of getting up and making a difference. One very significant way to make a difference is to have some money in your pocket.When you have money in your pocket, many of life’s challenges become manageable: medical insurance to cover emergency health examinations, surgeries, expensive treatments, and prescriptions becomes affordable; college tuition for your son or daughter, who despite the obstacles has worked hard to get good grades in high school, becomes fundable; retirement for you and your spouse, without the worry of income to pay the bills, becomes a realistic goal; care for your aging parents, in your home if you choose, is not a concern. Money in your pocket is one of the best defenses against anxiety and frustration, and if used positively, can most assuredly add to your sense of freedom.

When it comes to money matters, Black folk have over six hundred million dollars in disposable income, enough to be the eleventh-largest nation in the world, but almost nothing in the way of investments.We think we have all the time in the world to plan for our financial futures.We tell ourselves that we’ll take care of it tomorrow, but tomorrow becomes the next day and the next day and the next. Procrastination is the most convenient response to the challenge of paying attention to your financial affairs. Many have already determined that finance is far too difficult to understand and far too daunting to undertake.What is the stock market, anyway? What do you mean by mutual funds? How does retirement roll over? It all can sound much more difficult than it really is. Most of us would love to not get down on the field and be a player, but to stay on the sidelines and watch the game of life proceed without direct involvement, believing that things will work themselves out. It has been said that the best way to predict your future is to create it. Things don’t just happen;you claim your destiny! And that is what 101 Real Money Questions: The African American Financial Question and Answer Book is all about.With 101 Real
Money Questions, the information is put out there for you to read, absorb, and act on. Jesse Brown puts money in your pocket, answers all your questions, and gives you the know-how to create the future you want for yourself and your family.

For fiscally challenged individuals, Jesse Brown inspires hope. Managing your financial affairs is possible. Paying for the services, needs, and desires of you and your family is possible. Creating wealth for you and your family can be as real as the breath you breathe. I have tremendous admiration for Jesse because he takes our human rights movement to the next level.We have all sorts of freedoms these days, thanks to our ancestors, family members, and other loved ones who refused to accept less. Now it’s up to us to refuse to accept mediocrity, and pick up where they left off. It’s up to us to win the one freedom that remains elusive—financial freedom, financial stability. Jesse assures us that mastering the skills needed to manage money isn’t difficult.We would be remiss in our responsibility to ourselves and our families if we did not gain the upper hand over our money. Such an outcome can be more than merely expensive—it can be devastating to our lives and those of our children.

Jesse puts into print the same message he delivers to his clients: “Educate yourself, get a plan, and take charge of your financial life.” To that I would add, find yourself a knowledgeable financial adviser—one who can help you create your individual financial plan, select the appropriate investments, and stay on track, but who, in the final analysis, leaves you in full control. This book’s important message is to hold the vision of the possibility of a better life for you and yours and to make that vision a reality by securing your financial future. Take responsibility and exercise the faith and power you have within you to create a better life by investing.

In this compact volume of questions and answers, Jesse covers the principles of building wealth and discusses mutual funds, an ideal investment vehicle for achieving that end. He talks about one of the biggest mistakes many people make with their money—debt—and counsels on how to avoid missteps, or at least how to dampen their potentially negative effects. He discusses how best to use insurance to provide financial security for loved ones and to protect possessions. Through use of his advanced educational degrees and significant national leadership positions and extensive financial services experiences, Jesse brings Wall Street to the hood, so to speak, with what could be an otherwise daunting subject—personal finance. It is easy to become a victim, and oftentimes that is perceived as a comfortable position to be in. Each one of us has individual needs and wants, and our separate story to tell. In 101 Real Money Questions, Jesse Brown answers our questions about money and shows us how to take as little as 5 dollars a day and turn it into a million dollars through saving and investing.

Above all, Jesse urges immediate action, for time can be a powerful ally—or without a sound financial plan, a devastating enemy. Tavis Smiley The Smiley Group, Inc.


You can’t get away from it. From television to the Internet to barbershops, everyone’s talking about money. They always have, but now it seems different. Everywhere you look, someone’s touting a stock tip that earned him millions, a newscaster is professing the end of Social Security, or you hear tales of a millionaire gone bankrupt. People who’ve never invested before are dabbling in stocks. The company you’ve been with for twenty years is folding. College tuition is rising. Real estate is rising. The little country home you dreamed about retiring in has tripled in cost.Your daughter had a medical emergency and you just used your retirement savings to pay for it.

Someone told you to invest in an IRA, but you don’t know what that is. Someone else said you could save money in a tax-deferred account, but you don’t know where to find one. Then there’s the pressure of looking rich. Every movie and music video you see is another reminder of what you don’t have.You just purchased a gold Lexus, not sure how you’ll make the payments and live happily. The pressure is bearing in.Your savings are diminished and your checking account never builds. Stocks and bonds are foreign to you.

What do you do? Where do you start?

A sampling of comments from listeners of my audiotape series and my appearances on radio programs across the country, as well as from readers of my articles, newsletters, and books, indicates you can start where you are.

Marc R. stated that I helped him because he is “hungry for success in the market.” Benitez M., after reading my book Investing in the Dream, is now properly motivated and educated to exceed his current level of investments.

Karen H., a wife and mother of two, stated after reading my second book, Pay Yourself First: The African American Guide to Financial Success and Security, that it was the first financial book that was easy to read and made sense, and which spoke directly to her needs and convinced her that she could retire comfortably.

My third book in the “Pay Yourself First” series, 101 Real Money Questions: The African American Financial Question and Answer Book, is your opportunity to get your questions answered.

I am a “Financial Makeover”columnist for abcnews.com and the financial expert at Tavis Smiley’s Web site, tavistalks.com, as well as a columnist for more than 240 Black newspapers through the Black Press of America, National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA). I am also president and CEO of Krystal Investment Management, a national money management firm. I get questions all the time about personal finances investing, and in this book I’ll answer those questions.

It’s time to get our finances in order. Too many African American families are living paycheck to paycheck, with minimal retirement savings and too much frivolous spending. To achieve any sense of financial stability in your life, you must stop, assess what you have, budget, save, and invest.

It’s reeducation time. African Americans spend over $400 billion annually. But how much do we save? African Americans who earn more than $50,000 annually save less than their European American counterparts, yet they profess to want to retire early. You see,even those who have higher incomes haven’t achieved success if their savings and investments are minimal. So where are we?

We are on the final frontier of the civil rights movement: financial freedom. Urgings to invest and save are slowly pouring from civil rights havens and Black churches and colleges alike. Why?
Because the time is now! African Americans are among the world’s highest spenders, but we have minimal savings.Why? Because too many of us don’t understand wealth, how it is amassed, or how to keep it. Most of America’s millionaires are not entertainers or athletes, as the media would lead us to believe. Most are hardworking citizens with a knack for long-term saving and investing. Stock investments, portfolios, and financial plans are what separate the haves from the have-nots.

In this day and age, there is no excuse for lackadaisical financial planning. There is just too much information at our fingertips. But you must harness this information and stick with it. It’s not easy, but it is worth it. Do you want to go through another decade without accumulating wealth, real wealth that will ensure a comfortable retirement, pay for education for your children, and give you a freedom never before experienced? Or do you want to continue to scrape, always a dollar short and a day late, purchasing things you don’t need to feel better about your shattered finances?

The choice is yours. Financial remedies are as simple as reading a book on finances, reading financial articles—and better yet, reading this book.

This book is designed to teach African Americans how to amass the wealth they desire through saving and investing. There are no magic potions, no get-rich-quick schemes. Just time-honored methods that will guarantee financial success.

All that is required of those who desire is discipline.You must set up a plan and stick with it. In the end, your financial success depends on you.

Jesse B. Brown
Krystal Investment Management

Tobe continue....

About the Author xi
Foreword by Tavis Smiley xiii
Introduction by Jesse B. Brown 1
Chapter 1 Setting Financial Goals 5
Chapter 2 Starting Out—or Starting Over 19
Chapter 3 Face the Future 37
Chapter 4 Check Up on Insurance 41
Chapter 5 Trouble-Free Taxes 65
Chapter 6 Your Portfolio at a Glance 81
Chapter 7 Investment Strategies That Work 101
Chapter 8 Funding a College Education 115
Chapter 9 Everything You Always Wanted to Know about IRAs 127
Chapter 10 The Pros and Cons of Bankruptcy 139
Chapter 11 Planning Your Retirement 145
Chapter 12 Putting Your Estate in Order 159
Conclusion 179
Index 181