Category Archives: Relationships

Are You Accumulating This Asset for Your Retirement?

Increase Your Current Income and Build Future Wealth

Retirement may be drawing near. Or perhaps it’s not even a blip on your radar yet. Either case preparation is imperative. The longer you wait to begin building assets the greater the risk you’ll have insufficient resources, materially decreasing your wellbeing.

Are You Accumulating This Asset for Your Retirement?

You Don't Need Money to Build Solid Connections

One of the major factors hampering people’s ability to save for their later years is current needs: starting a business, raising children, and helping other family members among them. While overcoming such financial challenges is crucial, there is another asset equally or even more important that you can build starting today. It will not diminish your current life. In fact amassing this asset for the future pays enormous dividends today.

On turning 55, I was deeply touched by how many people took time out of their day to call, send a card, or post to Facebook. When I posted my thanks, noting:

The response was wonderful. I wrote last week about my longest standing friend Rik, who I have known for 40 years. I’m blessed to have several other friends for almost as long. At my stage of life, such long-term relationships are irreplaceable. These people knew me through the formative periods of my life and bring a perspective others cannot.

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As friendships grew, we helped each other advance our careers and businesses. We invested in each other's projects.  We raised our tides together.

You Control the Quality of Your Relationships

Of the factors that will determine the quality of your life as you age: health, finances, and social interaction; the last one is the only one almost solely in your control. You can live a healthy lifestyle and nonetheless have setbacks to your health. Prosperity can come and go.

Having close, enduring relationships costs you time and goodwill, but often little enough of each compared to the other demands you face. Social media makes maintaining such connections easy. AT&T’s famous slogan to “Reach out and touch someone,” that in its day cost upwards of $1 a minute, can be accomplished today almost for free. Here are suggestions for building lifelong relationships:

  1. Contact at least one friend per day. Ideally, in person, second best is calling. If time prohibits both of these email, text, or Facebook someone every day. Let people know you have them in mind and are grateful for their friendship. Doing this will make you happier too.
  2. Always remember birthdays. With an e-card service like, you can set up reminders and schedule cards to be sent in advance. Facebook is another great place to say happy birthday although its reminders aren’t as prominent as they used to be.
  3. Cultivate friends who live life the way you want to. Surrounding yourself with positive people will help you lead a more affirming, growth-oriented life. Beware, the opposite is true as well.
  4. Equally important, have younger friends who hopefully will outlive you. As you age regrettably your older friends and peers may predecease you. To retain your zest for life you must stay socially connected.

Whether you retire with a comfortable nest egg or continue working, stay in robust health or face challenges, friendships will make your life incalculably richer. As well, you’ll make your friends’ lives better now and in the future.

Don’t wait. Start building connections today, right this minute. Put it at the top of your daily to-do list. Turning Shakespeare’s well know warning, “All that glisters is not gold…” on its head, there are things that gleam more brightly than this precious metal. As you accumulate years, you’ll find your most profitable investments are friendships.

How do you stay in touch with your friends?

You can leave a comment on this question or ask another question below ↓

Who Showed You that You Can Be Great?

Achieving your goals, becoming successful, growing as a person and spouse: all of these require that you do things you haven’t done before. The unknown looms. That millions of people have done the same thing before means nothing in the face of the uncertainty and dread over how badly you might fail. Left to fester, fear becomes a permanent block. It can destroy your pursuit of greatness, leaving you with a small, shabby life.

Who Showed You that You Can Be Great?

I remember taking my driver’s license test. Hour upon hour of drivers’ education, drivers training, and practice with an experienced driver meant nothing when the tester entered my car. Nor did the fact that tens of millions of people had gotten their licenses. I was sure I would hit a parked car or worse a moving one and fail. At sixteen years old I had met the person who would usher me into the world of the possible, I just hadn’t absorbed the lesson yet.

We can’t recall if we met in 1973 or 1975, but Rik Carter and I have been friends for four decades, maybe more! Both big movie fans, one day he called me up and asked those fateful words:

“Do you want to make a movie?”

ME, a filmmaker?!

His next questions defined out relationship. “How much money do you have?” Pooling our resources we had enough to buy one roll of Kodachrome. And so began the filmmaking career of Rik and Kevin, aka Carmel Cinema Productions (we were clever in those days, using our last names CARter and BeMEL).

I could regale you with stories of our escapades around Santa Barbara, California, jumping off a cliff, scaring a couple of police officers half to death. But I digress.

Fast forward a couple of years and Rik was performing in the Main Street Electrical Parade at Disneyland. Though I was several months shy of my 18th birthday, he convinced the people running the parade they should hire me.

ME, a professional hoofer?!

Then he got me into the coveted role of Arch Pusher. One night, dressed smartly in my “It’s a Small World” gondolier’s costume I was happily skipping and dancing down the parade route with my five cohorts, all of us pushing a Small World doll on a wheeled platform with a bright arch of lights over it. The parade stalled in front of Sleeping Beauty’s castle so we decided to put on an impromptu show.

Cartwheels, back handsprings, and flips abounded. People went wild. Each of us strove to top the fellow before, rousing the crowd to applause that drowned out the music. The sound was deafening. No drug-induced euphoria could have been better.

ME, a star?!

(Author’s Note: Because of Rik’s influence I never tried any kind of drug. Yes we were among the squarest young people maturing in the 1970s.)

Rarely by word, but always by deed, Rik showed me you have to pursue your dreams. He has lived his life that way. Because of this great friend, I have the memory of the screaming crowd in front of Sleeping Beauty’s castle to remind me when I step out of my comfort zone and put my heart into it, the results are electric.

I hope you have a friend or relative like Rik. More importantly, if you haven’t connected with him/her in a while, do so, NOW. Keep the memory of triumph aflame in your heart, to burn up fear and to light the path to achievement and success!

Who believes in you more than you do?

Please comment on this question or ask another question below. ↓

Do You Know the People You Need to Be Successful?

One of the great things about friends, especially those you’ve known for a long time is how comfortable you are around them. You can act the way you want to without worrying about being rejected. Likewise you accept them for who they are. Of course, there are those things about them that drive you crazy. It’d all be okay except for one problem:

You Become Like the People You Associate with Most Often

Do You Know the People You Need to Be Successful?

Do you have friends who perpetually struggle financially? Or who can’t seem to maintain solid primary relationships? If you answered yes, you’re putting yourself at risk for the same issues.

Such friendships impact you two ways:

  1. They drain your energy and enthusiasm by constantly drawing you into never ending negative situations.
  2. They provide no guidance for how you can advance your life.

As you pursue your goals, you have to let such people go. Of course, deciding when and how will be hard, but if you don’t you won’t have room in your life for the new friendships that will support your growth.

It’s no different for you than for someone like Mark Zuckerberg. Where would Facebook’s founder be if he went to keggers with his old college buddies? Would his company be the world-changing force it is today? It’s no accident that people at the top of any field: business, academia, government, get to know each other. They need friendships that will make further advancement possible.

I don’t mean you should cynically use people and then dump them. But reality is not all friends are forever. And if you don’t know people today who are the living the life you want for yourself one, five, or ten years hence, you’re acting in the dark and hindering your growth.

Today, start connecting with people who share your values and are on a growth path similar to yours. Even better, find friends like this who are ahead of you in life. Over the next 12 to 24 months you’ll become like them.

How do your friends support or impede your growth? Please comment below.

How to Love, When You Have to Punish

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Balak – Numbers 22:2-25:9

Do you have this challenge? When my daughter misbehaves I find myself unaccountably angry. Let’s face it, at times every child gets into mischief or is rude. Admittedly when she does so in public I feel embarrassed. But even at home, at times I get quite spun up. This week’s parsha, Balak, shows the proper course of action:

And Pinchas, the son of Eleazar the son of Aaron the Kohen saw, and he arose from among the congregation, and he took his spear in his hand. (Numbers/Bamidbar 25:7)

How to Love, When You Have to Punish

This Sabbath’s parsha details how Balak, the king of Moab, attempted to have Bilaam, one of the greatest prophets of all time, curse the Children of Israel. Included is the wonderful story of the talking donkey, my wife’s favorite. The parsha ends with Pinchas spearing Prince Zimri and his Mindianite lover in public at the entrance to the Tenant of Meeting.

A simple reading of the Torah makes it appear Pinchas took unilateral action. But details recorded in the Talmud (Sanhendrin 106a) show he consulted with Moses. Pinchas reminded him there is a commandment requiring a zealot to take drastic action in the face such depravity. After all, this is not your run of the mill PDA (public display of affection)!

Pinchas confirmed his planned course of action was correct before acting. His authority was Moses, the only person ever to speak with G-d “mouth to mouth.”

Who among us can claim to be at the spiritual level of Pinchas, the first grandson of Aaron (the first High Priest), and a nephew of Moses? Who among us can claim to have as a mentor someone at Moses’s level? Surely for any of us to take such an action would be wrong. Today, when considering punitive action in G-d’s name, we would be well advised to keep in mind the conditions of Pinchas’s act.

But what about more mundane situations: a co-worker who bad-mouths you behind your back, a driver who cuts you off, or misbehavior by your child. Surely you can choose how to respond without consulting anyone else.

I dealt with the case of a co-worker in last week’s post on injustice. When a driver cuts me off I force myself to admit I have done the same, albeit almost always accidentally. Most likely this driver was no more ill intentioned.

It should be easier for me to forgive my daughter than an errant driver. After all, I cherish her. But whether out of a sense that her misbehavior is reflective of my inadequate parenting or the presumption that her defiance is meant as a personal attack (for the record I am an inadequate parent and she is rarely defiant, let alone disrespectful) I’ve learned not to discipline her in the moment. Rather, I consult with my wife. Recently, the three of us sat down and discussed what would be a reasonable punishment when she did something wrong. Her proposal, though not as harsh as what I had in mind, has turned out to be appropriate.

Aaron greatest trait was his love for every Israelite. Unremarked upon in his story is that as a descendant of Aaron, most likely Pinchas loved Zimri. All the more reason that he consulted with Moses before taking irreversible action. While reprimanding a loved one may seem to be nowhere as dire as Pinchas’s action, you don’t need a spear to wound a loved one’s heart. In that light, a few minutes consulting with someone whose knowledge and experience you respect before taking punitive action could prevent you from doing lasting damage to a relationship.

It takes twenty positive actions to offset one negative one. Affirm that from here on out you will seek counsel before issuing a rebuke. Starting now, set the tone by speaking loving, supportive words to your spouse and children daily.

How do you decide whether a punishment is just? Please comment below.


Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. It is named after the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.

What verse in the Old Testament would you like to know more about? Ask a question and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

Do You Know the Supreme Act of Love?

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Chukas – Numbers 19:1-22:1

Admiral William McRaven, the top navy SEAL, recommends you make your bed every morning so you start your day off with a victory, however small. He reminds me of my mother. As a kid she always wanted me to clean up my room, even if I was going to mess it up later. This week’s parsha, Chukas, makes sense of her seemingly unreasonable demand:

Speak to the Children of Israel and they will take for you a perfectly red cow that there is not on it a blemish and that was not placed on it a yoke. (Numbers/Bamidbar 19:2)

Do You Know the Supreme Act of Love?

This week’s parsha discusses the mysterious mitzvah (commandment) of the parah adumah or red heifer, Miriam’s death and the subsequent stopping of the well of water, Moses’s and Aaron’s error and punishment for disobeying G-d when supplying water to the people, the death of Aaron, the attack of the Amalekites, and the wars with Sihon and Og.

For millennia the parah adumah has puzzled scholars. How is it that through the process of creating ashes that will cleanse tumas meis, spiritual defilement caused by contact with a human corpse, the person making the ashes becomes tumei, spiritually defiled? By human reasoning it makes no sense.

The Torah calls this mitzvah a chuk or decree. There are many chukim in the Torah, all beyond the limited reach of the human mind. Even the wisest person who ever lived, King Solomon, admitted he understood all of the mitzvahs except the parah adumah.

Some argue when a mitzvah makes no sense, like this one, it should be abandoned. If so, we give up one of the most powerful ways to express love.

By doing something that G-d tells you to do, despite not understanding why, you are given the chance to be humble, to acknowledge your own limited capacity to understand the world. Humility is the crucial first step when conveying love. It makes possible a connection that benefits your beloved unimpeded by self-interest.

As well, by acting solely because the Almighty tells you to do something, you demonstrate the ultimate level of willingness to serve the Creator. Ungrudgingly replacing your own will with that of another, be it G-d’s or your beloved’s, can only come from a place of deepest love.

There is no conflict between being a strong-willed, self-directed Intentionalist and this ideal of love. Rather, the deliberate setting aside of your desires for the sake of others is the supreme exercise of intentionalism. It pays huge dividends in mental and spiritual fitness by creating secure, enduring friendships and familial relationships, and a deep connection with G-d.

How do you control your ego so as to love more deeply? Please comment below.


Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. It is named after the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.


What verse in the Old Testament would you like to know more about? Ask a question and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

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