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Madoff - what it means for you

Back in the day, and by that I mean when the Romans occupied Israel, there was fraud the likes of which would do Madoff proud. So Jesus, perhaps alluding to a current event, told this story which has baffled many good christians. It seemingly flies in the face of what Jesus stood for. It goes pretty much like this:

A man, let’s call him Jack The Fraudster, was in charge of a Wealthy Man’s possessions (somewhat like a financial planner, I suppose). He had climbed his way through the ranks of the household staff and over time paid certain staff favours in exchange for them turning a blind eye to various peculiarities. This really pissed off the honest staff who found themselves unable to climb the ranks unless they colluded with Jack. Finally a few were mad enough that they approached Labour Relations in HR who waffled for years because they didn’t have any real power and besides some of them were in on it … but eventually the rumours reached Wealthy Man who ordered an investigation. The findings were troubling to say the least.

So Wealthy Man hauls in Jack the Fraudster, whom he’d trusted with pretty much everything, and confronts him. Jack the Fraudster is nothing if not weaselly and manages not to get sent to prison on the spot, but he is sent packing. Because Wealthy Man didn’t heed HR’s sound advice, Jack the Fraudster was allowed to personally clean out his desk. He did so, taking along his stewards Seal.

Jack knew as soon as word got out he’d never find employment as a steward again. He also knew he had no other particularly useful skills. He was screwed for life. Unless…. unless …

Unless he committed one last grand act of fraud which would gain him serious favours with some up-and-coming people and at the same time might, just might, appease Wealthy Man enough to have him shut the you-know-what up about his bad behaviour.

This is what he did. He went tearing around to all the up-and-coming people who owed Wealthy Man things like hundreds of jugs of olive oil, or cattle, or exotic spices. And he offered them pretty much a receivership deal: If they would pay just half of what they owed, he’s stamp (with the Seal) the records as being Paid In Full.

This accomplished 2 things:
1. Up-and-coming people owed him, big time. He’d be welcome at their homes for extended couch-surfing stints.
2. Wealthy Man, who probably assumed he’d never recoup his losses, got at least half of what he was owed instead of having to write it all off.

Wealthy Man had to hand it to him. In fact he chuckled about it at many a dinner party. (By the way, you didn’t think Wealthy Man became Wealthy Man by playing clean, did you?)

Here’s where things go sideways. We all expect Jesus to say, “Don’t do that!” but instead, he says, “And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes.”
Here’s my take. First, there’s just no way, no way, he is encouraging his followers to commit fraud. But I think he is acknowledging that Jack The Fraudster got one thing straight – he knew that finding himself a home was the #1 thing to be concerned about, and Jesus is acknowledging that it was really savvy to use all things at his disposal, things of much less personal significance (no kidding), to secure a future home for himself.

So for us, religious or not, the message could be something like: Get Clear on what’s of supreme importance to you. The things that make life worth living. Home. Family. Friends. People. and Get Clear on what is inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. Make sure what is inconsequential is serving the purpose of what is of supreme importance. A bit no-brainer, yet we always seem to need the reminder. I certainly do.

I’m no theologian. But that’s my take wearing my money-coaching lens.

Yesterday was All Souls Day. It’s about as close to ancestor worship as we Christians get, I guess. It is a time to remember the people connected to us who have died, and say prayers for them: May light perpetual shine upon them. May they rest in peace. is a classic prayer.

I don’t know much about my paternal lineage. I may be Jewish. I may be German. I may be both. Sometime before I die, I hope to find out more.

But in the meantime, I do know that my paternal grandparents, both American-born, lived in Germany for a number of years before WWII. My grandfather ran a factory there. They were recalled home just before the Germans attacked Poland, if I have my story right.

For a whole host of reasons, I didn’t stand to inherit much, and I didn’t, when they died. I don’t mind that fact. But I do have the painting below. They acquired it in Germany. I don’t know what it’s worth (or not worth) and it was in disrepair until I had it cleaned and reframed. Over the years, it has an increased importance to me – both intrinsically and the fact that it is something tangible handed down to me. I don’t even know where to begin in terms of having it appraised. If you’re an artist, and know about these sorts of things, I’d be interested in hearing from you.

I’m curious. Do you have items that have been handed down to you? Do you prize them? Or are you nonchalant (I was at first, truth be told)?

Here’s the painting, by the way:
Painting from my grandparents

Details Halloween house, Vancouver Downtown 2

I don’t know about where you live, but I’d say it was somewhere in the mid-2000’s when Halloween became an event rivalling Christmas in Vancouver. It became seriously epic! A little warmer than in December, Oct. 31st is the perfect time of year to walk through neighbourhoods not trick-or-treating (albeit tempting) but looking at the spookily bedecked houses. Folks go all out – sound effects, coffins pop open as you walked by and gravestones are scattered eerily across formerly friendly lawns. (Check out this haunted house in Thornhill, Ontario!) And costumes are no longer just for the kids. Halloween has become a time when everyone can express their creativity and ghoulishness…. as you walk down Broadway or Robson …

It doesn’t seem to be quite as big a deal up here in Yellowknife, perhaps because it’s hard to wear costumes over parkas, but still it has a strong presence (as Nanook the SuperHero demonstrates).

Canadians are going to spend $1.5Billion on Halloween this year, an average somewhere between $60 – $75 per each and every Canadian.

I’ll fess up. Things have been so hectic for me the past few weeks that I haven’t spent a dime on halloween this year. Not a dime. It also means I’ve bunkered down in my apartment so nobody comes trick-or-treating – how lame is that! How ’bout you? Do you get into Halloween? How much did you spend? And what made it worth it?

Anyone catch the reference implicit in this? (Hat tip to the person who pointed it out – I forget who you are! Announce yourself so I can give props where they’re due). Anyway, I love how they’re playing along with pop culture in their imagery. What does this have to do with money coaching? Not a whole lot. But advertising fascinates me.

Nicely played, Air Canada, nicely played

Network Hub (rent by the hour or day)

This is not my office. This is the co-working space, The Network Hub, in Vancouver that I rented during my working-holiday in October. More on it later.

My actual office in Yellowknife is grey. Grey walls, grey carpet and no windows.

It’s a funny thing about offices. When I lived and did business in Vancouver, I rented from Workspace and I was In.Love.With.It. Most interesting thing about it? It wasn’t an office. We all rented… well.. space! There were simple tables we could use, and four small rooms if we needed to meet for an hour, and a coffee bar. But mostly, we rented space. You can get a bit of a sense of it here:
Good Ideas in Media
or here:
Workspace Photo Shoot
or on a busy day (Barcamp. Go look it up if you don’t know what that is. It’s worth knowing!)
BarCamp Vancouver 2007 - 51 - PhotoCamp

Having an office per se soon became meaningless to me. It was far outweighed by the sense of zen and spaciousness and the way in which the open-ness invited collaboration. Offices were a thing of the past to me.

So when I moved up to my new job in Yellowknife and there wasn’t office space available at the time, I didn’t blink an eye. I attempted to continue with my paper-free lifestyle and a clutter-free desk. Except – People.Kept.Asking if Didn’t I have any work? and over time I began to re-associate an office with status. And worry that folks would perceive me as low on the totem pole (a silly construct I’d happily let go of just months earlier!) since I was sans bureau.

Now I have an office. And I hate to admit it, but I think my nose would be out of joint if for any reason I had to give it up. Or move to a cubicle (a fate worse than hell). Even if it is an office, it’s *my* office, grey walls and all.
Do I do better work than I would in a cubicle? I imagine not. But I would feel less a valued part of the team and more a drone without it. And that could well lead to a lower quality of work.

My point is this: our work-spaces inform so very much more than you’d think, don’t they?
Readers – care to share what your work space is like? Do you like it? Does it contribute to working effectively? Does it lead to collaboration or isolation? To what extent is it a status symbol?

And if you are traveling to Vancouver and want a place to try out co-working, I recommend The Network Hub pictured at the top of this post. Lovely, is it not? Oodles of character. The rates are crazy-reasonable and the service is friendly. And if you see my pal Raul, please give him a Hi from Nancy.