Here I am again, dedicating the Friday afternoon after our Christmas party to reflection and sharing some thoughts.
2017 has proven to be another crazy year. There’s a great saying…”the more I know, the less I understand”. That’s how I’m feeling: here’s my ten musings for year 2017.
- Sure, individual people are pretty much the same as always and generally good in nature, but there’s way too much herding for me, resulting in a rationalization of bad behavior. I don’t care if you’re Republican or Democrat, Pro-Trump or Anti-Trump, pro-immigration or anti-immigration, a 1%er or a 99%er- there’s no excuse for being a jerk. I went from a lifelong Republican to an Independent this year, as I have no allegiance to either major party and don’t want any group to speak for me. Like the old 70’s Crosby, Stills and Nash song said, “Nobody’s right is everybody’s wrong”.
- The biggest mass shooting in our history, theater bombings, trucks mowing down pedestrians, refugee crises all over the place, wildfires and three devastating hurricanes. Holy Moly- that’s too much human suffering for me! I’ve never given so much to charity but it’s the one thing that keeps me from feeling helpless. Despite our challenges and setbacks, let’s be thankful for our good fortune and do something to help the many desperate, unfortunate people here and abroad. Remember from last year’s musings “all lives matter- equally”.
- The company had disappointing results this year. After two years of double digit growth, we’ve stalled at about $95M for the last two years. Most of the lack of revenue growth is transitory and circumstantial, so we will be begin growing again, hopefully next year. But, having increased our infrastructure expecting to support $120M in revenue by now, our Opex is outpacing our profits- so we not only had no revenue growth but pre-tax earnings less than half our budget. Oh well! at least we’ve been reminded once again to not take success for granted and to work hard and stay on point.
- I am the majority owner of the company, which is a C Corp, so I will personally benefit from the impending reduction in corporate taxes. Cool! But I don’t believe that corporations retaining more of their profit is going to significantly benefit the average worker; mostly it will benefit the shareholders. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but let’s quit the BS about trickle down. I hope I’m wrong, but companies keeping more of their money has never been a major benefit to the rank and file in the past and probably won’t this time either. Although we believe we’re a team and share any incremental success, most companies have it in their DNA to pay their workers the least amount they can get away with.
- Our business does benefit from capex (capital expenditures) and I do believe that we will see a bump with the reduction in corporate taxes and, therefore, more money for business to invest. That could be big.
- I lost my sister on July 1st. She hadn’t been feeling well and went to the hospital for tests. She died two weeks later from the most aggressive case of lymphoma the New York Presbyterian doctors had ever seen. She was an artist and teacher and the family rock star. It was the toughest loss I’ve ever been though- worse even than my father dying when I was 21. Even though he and I were also very close, I think that at 21 I didn’t feel any threat to my own longevity and that my career and post college life was beginning anew. I suppose that says that I was selfish enough back then that it was more about me than my family. My daughter has changed all that.
- I don’t know about you, but I find this North Korea situation somewhat scary. Kim Jong-Un is clearly ruthless and seemingly crazy and our president isn’t making me feel any better. We don’t have any preemptive military options that make sense, so we can’t stop them from advancing their weapons program. I hear that we’re working on diplomatic solutions but Trump getting into a war of words and name calling doesn’t work for me. C’mon- you’re President of the United States and the one who is supposed to take the high ground; stop acting like an 8-year-old. Maybe Dennis Rodman is our best chance…now, that’s scary!
- I’m really glad that so many creeps are getting called out for sexual misconduct. It supports the concept that power corrupts, and I’m impressed with how swiftly they are being taken down. That said, I’m amazed so many women kept it to themselves for 5, 10 and, sometimes, 20 years or more before saying anything. I suppose the culture in those days was to grin and bear it but, thankfully, we will never go back there again. I don’t know if the ground swell started with Bill Cosby (of all people), but Weinstein certainly was the lightning rod. Talk about creeps!
- I try to closely follow Wall Street and the business environment. The stock market has been parabolic, the world economy is in a rare state of synchronized growth, unemployment is down to 4% and, yet, it just doesn’t feel to me like things are so great. Maybe it’s because the company had an off year or maybe my eternal optimism is taking a breather but… whatever…it just doesn’t feel like these are the ‘good old days’.
- Every year is a new start and I, for one, will be happy when shiny new 2018 rolls around. Like every year, it will have its share of the good, the bad and the ugly; I know that. I’m just hoping the proportions are a little more favorable- not just for me but everyone. That said, my soon to be 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, is doing great and, in the end, if she’s good, I’m good.
Wishing all of you and everyone out there the absolute best! Despite all the bad, lets embrace the good, be thankful and make a difference!