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Category Archives: affirmations

10 Life Lessons from Basic SEAL Training from Admiral William H. McRaven

By Steve Nguyen, Ph.D.

 

University of Texas at Austin 2014 Commencement Address – Admiral William H. McRaven

Watch his speech above or directly on YouTube, https://youtu.be/pxBQLFLei70

An inspiring and powerful 20-minute commencement speech by Naval Admiral William H. McRaven, ninth commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, at the University-wide Commencement at The University of Texas at Austin on May 17, 2014.

Admiral McRaven’s commencement speech is perhaps one of the best commencement speeches I have ever heard. It is on point and offers some fantastic life and business lessons.

Below are excerpts from his amazing speech.

10 Life Lessons from Basic SEAL Training

1. If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.
“If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.”

2. If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle.
“You can’t change the world alone—you will need some help— and to truly get from your starting point to your destination takes friends, colleagues, the good will of strangers and a strong coxswain to guide them.”

3. If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers.
“SEAL training was a great equalizer. Nothing mattered but your will to succeed. Not your color, not your ethnic background, not your education and not your social status.”

4. If you want to change the world get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward.
“Sometimes no matter how well you prepare or how well you perform you still end up as a sugar cookie.”

“For failing the uniform inspection, the student [in Basic SEAL training] had to run, fully clothed into the surfzone and then, wet from head to toe, roll around on the beach until every part of your body was covered with sand. The effect was known as a ‘sugar cookie.’ You stayed in that uniform the rest of the day — cold, wet and sandy.”

“There were many a student who just couldn’t accept the fact that all their effort was in vain. . . Those students didn’t understand the purpose of the drill. You were never going to succeed. You were never going to have a perfect uniform.”

5. If you want to change the world, don’t be afraid of the circuses.
“Every day during training you were challenged with multiple physical events — long runs, long swims, obstacle courses, hours of calisthenics — something designed to test your mettle. Every event had standards — times you had to meet. If you failed to meet those standards your name was posted on a list, and at the end of the day those on the list were invited to a ‘circus.’ A circus was two hours of additional calisthenics designed to wear you down, to break your spirit, to force you to quit.”

“Life is filled with circuses. You will fail. You will likely fail often. It will be painful. It will be discouraging. At times it will test you to your very core.”

6. If you want to change the world sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle head first.

7. If you want to change the world, don’t back down from the sharks.
“There are a lot of sharks in the world. If you hope to complete the swim you will have to deal with them.”

8. If you want to change the world, you must be your very best in the darkest moment.
“At the darkest moment of the mission is the time when you must be calm, composed—when all your tactical skills, your physical power and all your inner strength must be brought to bear.”

9. If you want to change the world, start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud.
“If I have learned anything in my time traveling the world, it is the power of hope. The power of one person—Washington, Lincoln, King, Mandela and even a young girl from Pakistan, Malala—one person can change the world by giving people hope.”

10. If you want to change the world don’t ever, ever ring the bell.
“In SEAL training there is a bell. A brass bell that hangs in the center of the compound for all the students to see. All you have to do to quit—is ring the bell. Ring the bell and you no longer have to wake up at 5 o’clock. Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the freezing cold swims. Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the runs, the obstacle course, the PT—and you no longer have to endure the hardships of training. Just ring the bell. If you want to change the world don’t ever, ever ring the bell.”

——

“Start each day with a task completed. Find someone to help you through life. Respect everyone. Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often. But if you take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up — if you do these things, then the next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today.”

“It matters not your gender, your ethnic or religious background, your orientation, or your social status. Our struggles in this world are similar and the lessons to overcome those struggles and to move forward—changing ourselves and the world around us—will apply equally to all.”

“Changing the world can happen anywhere and anyone can do it.”

Written By: Steve Nguyen, Ph.D.
Leadership Advisor & Talent Development Consultant

Link

University of Texas at Austin – Adm. McRaven Urges Graduates to Find Courage to Change the World   https://news.utexas.edu/2014/05/16/mcraven-urges-graduates-to-find-courage-to-change-the-world

 

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The Reason Cristiano Ronaldo Refuses To Get A Tattoo Might Surprise You

Athletes love their ink – but not Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, who is adamant he will never get a tattoo.

His reason may surprise you.

why cristiano ronaldo does not have tattoos
Getty Images

Regarded by many as an arrogant pretty boy, Ronaldo has made substantial donations to help children with debilitating diseases.

That’s right, he passes on the permanent ink so he can continue to donate blood.

In many countries around the world, tattoos can impact a person’s eligibility to give blood due to risks of cross-contamination and hepatitis.

“I don’t have tattoos because I donate blood very often,” Ronaldo told the Diretta News.

why cristiano ronaldo does not have tattoos
Getty Images

In 2015, Ronaldo was named the world’s most charitable sportsperson, and he’s showing no signs of slowing down.

In June, he donated his €600,000 Champions League win bonus to good causes.

One month later after winning the Euro Cup with Portugal, he donated his £275,000 Euro bonus to a Kids Cancer foundation.

 

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How a Stock Market Shakeup Affects Mortgages

Will the stock market shakeup affect mortgage rates and home sales? If you’ve been thinking about buying or selling a house, the recent financial headlines might be making you anxious. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, after peaking at 26,616 on Friday, Jan. 26, (Google Finance) dropped by 363 points on Tuesday, Jan. 30 – the sharpest drop since last May. The Dow lost 540 points over two days. As investors sold bonds, stock prices declined.

The Stock Market Shakeup and Home Sales

Since then the market has continued to be turbulent. In February, it registered its biggest monthly drop (4.3%) in two years. Then, President Trump’s tariffs announcement made it drop 420 points on March 1.

Investors are fearful because they don’t know whether these changes are the beginning of a serious correction or just a blip in the 8,000-point upward trend the Dow has experienced since President Trump’s November 2016 election. So how does the recent shakeup affect you if you’re thinking about buying or selling a home?

Buying in a Turbulent Market

The yield on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes has risen. When the yield on these notes increases, mortgage rates increase. On Nov. 10, 2017, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage charged 3.73%, according to Bankrate; by Feb. 9 the rate had climbed to 4.26% – an increase of more than 0.5% over just three months.

To put that in perspective, for every $100,000 you borrow, a 0.5% interest rate increase will cost you $28 per month ($336 per year). On a $250,000 mortgage that’s $70 per month ($840 per year).

Another factor that’s pushing mortgage rates up is that the Federal Reserve raised the federal funds rate target by 0.25% in December and is expected to continue to raise this rate over the course of 2018. Meanwhile, a lack of housing inventory has pushed home prices up.

If the recent stock market fluctuations are the precursor to a recession, layoffs could be widespread, and no one wants to be saddled with a new mortgage while they’re unemployed. Still, for the average individual pursuing home ownership as a lifestyle choice and a long-term investment, timing the market shouldn’t be the goal; making a wise, long-term decision should.

If a recession materializes,home prices could fall, perhaps making it easier to buy a home if you remain employed – and most people do. But as interest rates rise, you could find yourself facing a monthly payment similar to what you would have with higher home prices and lower interest rates. And, of course, if you’re also selling a house, the lower prices will leave you with less to spend on your new home.

Stock-market volatility underscores the importance of buying a home you can comfortably afford, one whose mortgage payments, maintenance costs, homeowner’s insurance and property taxes are well within your means. It also underscores the importance of having an emergency fund. It might be a good time to buy a home before rates increase any further, but only if you’re otherwise ready and only if you find a home you will be happy living in for years. You’re not going to care if your monthly payment is $80 cheaper if you don’t feel satisfied with your home.

Selling in a Turbulent Market

The median U.S. home price has increased by about $100,000 since January 2010, according to data from the National Association of Realtors. However, the association says we do not appear to be in a housing bubble, so there’s no need to panic and try to sell your home before prices plunge.

Home sales are often driven by factors beyond our control, such as job change, death and divorce. Choosing to sell a home when market conditions are ideal is rarely an option. Still, if you do have flexibility in when to put your home on the market, is now a good or bad time to do so, given what’s happening in the stock market and the broader economy?

If your home’s value has increased substantially since you bought it, then you should have the positive equity you need to pay off your mortgage and make a down payment on your next home. Mortgage rates are still relatively low, making it a good time to take out a home loan. Inventory is low, which could put your home in high demand but also make it hard to find a place to buy. Indeed, finding the right home to buy is the biggest challenge buyers face, according to the National Association of Realtors.

The Tax Bill Tie-In

Because the December 2017 tax bill doubled the standard deduction, fewer homeowners will itemize their deductions, including mortgage interest. The $10,000 limit on state and local income taxes (SALT) and property taxes also makes it less likely that homeowners will itemize and get a tax break for these homeownership costs.

In addition, new homeowners will only be able to deduct mortgage interest on a maximum of $750,000 rather than $1 million in mortgage debt as they can now. This change, however, won’t affect all that many home buyers.

Cumulatively, the tax bill changes could affect home prices, especially in states most affected by the SALT provision. Homeownership could become more expensive without the tax deductions, decreasing demand. However, the higher standard deduction, across-the-board tax rate cuts and the expanded child tax credit could put more money in home buyers’ pockets, offsetting this change. The National Association of Realtors predicts that existing home sales volume and prices will moderate in 2018 because of the tax law. (For more, see How the GOP Tax Bill Affects You.)

The Bottom Line

Buying or a selling a home is a slow and expensive process with long-term implications for your lifestyle and finances. Short-term stock market shakeups should not be a factor in home buying or selling decisions. Your personal circumstances – including your personal finances – should be the biggest driver of your real estate decisions. (For more, see Playing Hardball When Selling Your Home.)

Read more: How a Stock Market Shakeup Affects Mortgages | Investopedia https://www.investopedia.com/personal-finance/how-stock-market-shakeup-affects-mortgages/#ixzz596SVio68
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Stock Sell-Off Has Worrisome Similarities to 2008 Crisis

Stock Sell-Off Has Worrisome Similarities to 2008 Crisis

Investors may not be out of the woods just yet, despite the recovery of stock prices from their recent lows on February 8. In fact, some analysts and investment managers are seeing disturbing parallels with the 2007-08 financial crisisYahoo Finance reports. That’s worrisome, since the bear market of 2007–09 lasted 517 calendar days and knocked 56.8% off the value of the S&P 500 Index (SPX)per Yardeni Research Inc. At the close on February 12, after gains on two consecutive trading days, the S&P 500 was 7.5% below its record high on January 26.

The Investopedia Anxiety Index (IAI) continues to register extremely high concerns about the securities markets among our 27 million readers globally, outweighing low levels of worry about other economic and financial matters. A new risk for 2018, and thus a new source of anxiety, has come from so-called “short-vol” trading strategies that fell apart in recent weeks. (For more, see also: 6 Forces That May Push the Stock Market Even Lower.)

The 2007–08 Crisis

“Part of what brought down the stock market [last week] was very symptomatic and very similar to what happened in the financial crisis. Secured [securitized] products, leverage and complexity combining to form a selloff. When you look at 2008 a lot of it was there,” says Aaron Kohli, interest rates strategist at BMO Capital Markets, in remarks to Yahoo Finance.

In 2007, there was a subprime mortgage meltdown, as a housing price bubble began deflating. Banks were hit by increasing defaults and delinquencies on home mortgages, especially those that began to exceed the declining values of the underlying properties. Complex debt instruments carved out of home loans began to crater in value, such as mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and collaterized debt obligations (CDOs).

This imposed huge losses on the holders, both individual investors and major financial institutions. Then the dominoes started falling, as big financial institutions faced insolvency and could not meet obligations to each other. For the first time, the concept of counterparty risk entered mainstream discourse, and a massive government bailout of leading financial institutions under the TARP program eventually was necessary to prevent systemic financial and economic collapse.

The Federal Reserve and other central banks around the world then pursued a policy of aggressive quantitative easing, pushing interests down to zero (or even into negative territory), to prop up the prices of financial assets, and to stimulate the economy. As in 2018, 2007 began with a strong economy and upbeat U.S. economic outlook. However, by the end of 2007, partially due to the subprime crisis, the economy was in what has come to be called The Great Recession, which lasted into 2009.

Dangers in 2018

In 2018, the unraveling of risky “short-vol” trading strategies tied to the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) accelerated the recent stock market selloff. After more than a year of historically low volatility, a growing number of speculators began making what they had come to believe were can’t-miss bets using futures and options. When volatility as measured by the VIX shot up unexpectedly, these highly-leveraged schemes produced huge losses, and traders scrambled to raise the capital necessary to cover these losses, adding to the selling pressure on stocks.

Today ordinary retail investors can choose from more than a dozen ETFs linked to the VIX, Yahoo Finance reports. Many of these products are highly leveraged, meaning that their value can swing wildly, Yahoo adds. Just as with various complex debt instruments and derivatives in 2007–08, individual investors have piled into these new products with little, if any, understanding of the full risks. Yahoo might have added that even investment professionals seriously underestimated the risks of complex new products in 2007–08, adding to that crisis.

A particularly notorious example today is the VelocityShares Daily Inverse VIX Short-Term ETN (XIV) from Credit Suisse AG. It lost 92.6% of its value on February 6 alone, and Credit Suisse plans to liquidate it on February 21, at close to a total loss for most investors, Yahoo says. Also, as in 2007 with MBS and CDOs, the leading rating agencies have not been issuing warnings about the dangers of these volatility-linked products, Yahoo adds.

What’s Ahead

Since 1980, the MSCI All-Country World Index has recorded at least a 10% decline two out of every three years on average, per research by Charles Schwab & Co. Inc. cited by The Wall Street Journal. The maximum dip so far this year has been 8.4%, dividends included, from the high on January 26 to the low on February 8, suggesting a further decline this year, per both sources. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 fell by 10.2% over that same period.

Despite all this, the optimists point to worldwide economic growth and corporate profit growth that remain solid. However, even long-term bulls such as Michael Wilson, chief U.S. equity strategist and chief investment officer at Morgan Stanley, acknowledge that today’s high equity valuations will be hard to maintain in the face of rising interest rates and inflation, the Journal adds, raising the odds of further pullbacks in stock prices. (For more, see also: Why Stocks Won’t Crash Like 1987: Goldman Sachs.)

Read more: Stock Sell-Off Has Worrisome Similarities to 2008 Crisis | Investopedia https://www.investopedia.com/news/stock-selloff-has-worrisome-similarities-2008-crisis/#ixzz570nW6qyF
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National Federation of the Blind Applauds Introduction of AV START Act

National Federation of the Blind Applauds Introduction of AV START Act

Legislation Will Promote Access to Automated Vehicles for the Blind


Baltimore, Maryland (September 29, 2017): Today the National Federation of the Blind commends Senator John Thune, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Senator Gary Peters, Senator Roy Blunt, and Senator Debbie Stabenow for introducing the American Vision for Safer Transportation through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies (AV START) Act (S. 1885). This bill will promote equal access to automated vehicles for the blind and others with disabilities through the prohibition of discriminatory licensing practices and the promotion of accessible user interfaces.

“The advent of automated vehicle technology presents tremendous potential benefits for the blind and other Americans with disabilities,” said Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “From more reliable transportation to greater access to employment, automated vehicles will be a valuable tool improving the opportunity of blind people to live the lives we want. But none of these benefits will materialize if the principles of equal access and opportunity are not front and center. The National Federation of the Blind therefore calls for automated vehicle technology to be accessible to everyone through nonvisual user interface options and nondiscriminatory public policy, and applauds Chairman Thune and Senator Peters for introducing a bill that takes positive steps in that direction.”

The AV START Act specifically prohibits states from issuing licenses in a manner that discriminates on the basis of disability. The legislation also creates a disability access working group, tasked with promulgating best practices and recommendations on the accessibility of user interfaces and vehicle design more broadly. The bill specifically denotes “accessibility” as a component of reporting requirements for vehicle manufacturers.

###


About the National Federation of the Blind
The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise the expectations of blind people, because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams. You can live the life you want; blindness is not what holds you back.

CONTACT:
Chris Danielsen
Director of Public Relations
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
(410) 262-1281 (Cell)
cdanielsen@nfb.org

 

Heroic dog braves Long Island Sound to rescue baby deer

by Melissa Breyer (@MelissaBreyer) –

 

We all know people who wouldn’t hesitate to dive into the water to rescue an animal in need; but how many dogs do you know that would do the same?

Come to think of it, maybe more dogs than people would rise to the occasion! Dogs are incredible in the art of rescue and have been doing it at least since the early 18th century, when monks living in the frigid and treacherous St. Bernard Pass in the Alps used their namesake St. Bernard dogs to help on their rescue missions after blizzards.

But what makes Storm – an English golden retriever from Port Jefferson, NY – even more special is that without any training or prodding, he leapt into action upon seeing a baby deer in duress in the Long Island Sound. Retrieving may be in Storm’s nature, but still, what a trooper.

“Storm just plunged into the water, started swimming out to the fawn and then grabbed the fawn by her neck and started swimming in to the shore,” says Storm’s caregiver, Mark Freeley.

Freeley took a video of the event, having no idea of how things would turn out. As you can see below, Storm gets to the babe, brings it back to shore, and then lays down next to it. And then?

“And then he started nudging it with his nose and then started pulling it to make sure it was gonna be OK, I guess,” Freeley says.

Freeley quickly called animal rescue workers who arrived as the deer headed back into the water, apparently spooked by the dogs.

“This time it went out even further,” Freeley says. Between Freeley and the careful team from Strong Island Animal Rescue League, the deer was rescued yet again.

The sweet fawn is currently on the mend at Long Island’s Save the Animals Rescue Foundation, donations to which can be made here.

CBS New York station WCBS-TV reports on the story below.

Tags: Animals | Pets

 

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How Will Current Politics Affect Facility Management?

BY JUSTIN FEIT –

Changes are underway with the new administration – how will they impact you?

••••
President Trump’s agenda places several programs that have helped FMs in danger of being eliminated. Their survival depends heavily on the ability or willingness to push some key parts of his agenda through Congress.

After the unprecedented electoral victory of Donald Trump, the political climate in the U.S. has been in a state of flux. As the president fills in cabinet and department positions, enacts his agenda and navigates the tumultuous waters of the current political climate, the commercial building industry awaits Washington’s concrete actions and their wide-ranging impacts.

With Republicans holding both houses of Congress and the White House, budget cuts, tax cuts and deregulation are likely on the way. While some of these actions might help businesses, these actions will also have consequences for the buildings industry in the coming weeks, months and years. How will the current political situation affect you?

Information Sharing for Energy Efficiency

Michigan State University had a plan to boost its energy efficiency across the board but was in need of more information and strategies to enact changes across its portfolio of academic buildings, science facilities, parking ramps and athletic facilities. The Department of Energy’s voluntary energy program, the Better Buildings Challenge, provided these vital resources, even though it did not offer any financial incentives.

“We have saved close to $10 million over the past few years by installing energy-efficient measures across campus. We have reduced the energy footprint by 13% in the 20 million square feet included in the program,” says Lynda Boomer, Director of Planning Design and Construction at MSU.

Learning from similar universities that had undergone comparable projects, MSU found success in its energy-saving initiative. The information sharing partnership of the Better Buildings Challenge helped MSU enact HVAC upgrades, chiller replacements and insulation improvements for optimal efficiency.

Through the Better Buildings Challenge, partners commit to improve the energy use of their building portfolios by at least 20% within 10 years and lead the way in a network for peer-to-peer collaboration,” says Maria Vargas, Director of the Better Buildings Challenge. “By showing how energy efficiency has been successfully adopted – and the barriers addressed and overcome – these partners are examples for others across a myriad of building types and locations.”

Since joining the initiative, MSU has been able to achieve considerable savings in its facilities, and the program has been successful across the board in reducing energy usage in buildings.

“MSU became aware of the Better Buildings Challenge and Alliance through involvement in the International Institute for Safe Laboratories (I2SL). We had just completed the energy transition plan and were already on the path to reducing energy use on campus and becoming more efficient, so it was a good fit to join the Better Buildings Challenge,” says Boomer. “While they did not provide any financial aid, the program gave MSU an opportunity to network with other universities and suppliers that could provide ideas and opportunities for energy saving projects.”

In practice, the Better Buildings Challenge has been successful in helping participants reach that 20% goal. “Partners have saved 240 trillion BTUs in energy consumption, $1.9 billion in cost savings, 15 million tons in avoided carbon emissions, $8.6 billion in funds extended by financial allies partnering with DOE and 4 billion gallons in water savings,” says Vargas.

Initiatives that the voluntary Better Buildings Challenge has started include the Financing Navigator to help people find financing options, greater focus and research on data center energy use, water efficiency pledges that save both water and energy, and the SWAP, a reality TV-inspired web series in which property managers from two organizations look for savings opportunities in each other’s buildings.

The voluntary nature of the project allows organizations to earn recognition and share energy information with other participants, which can provide the spark for worthwhile changes. However, the future of the Better Buildings Challenge is in jeopardy due to a recent executive order and the future federal budget.

The Trump Trajectory

President Trump has targeted several Obama-era policies that directly relate to the buildings industry through executive actions and legislative proposals. One needs to look no further than the Better Buildings Challenge, which former President Obama introduced in his 2011 State of the Union address as a means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In his 2013 Climate Action Plan, Obama’s agenda included expanding the Better Buildings Challenge.

However, the Trump administration has taken aim at Obama’s Climate Action Plan with the Presidential Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth, identifying goals of striking down energy-related regulations that executive departments have mandated in the past. This executive order could threaten the future of the Better Buildings Challenge, although it is not yet clear how or to what extent.

Executive orders have some historical precedent of being more symbolic, guiding the vision and overall policy of a presidency. Whether or not this particular executive order will on its own largely impact Obama’s Climate Action Plan is unclear at this point. But what an executive order may or may not be able to accomplish can be done so through legislation.

The budget proposal Trump will expand and hopes to usher through Congress provides more concrete plans for cuts within several departments that house energy efficiency programs. While this budget proposal will undoubtedly undergo major changes to placate the many factions of the House, the original budget presented provides insight into the trajectory this administration would like to follow as far as federal funding goes.

Two of the most important departments to look at with the budget proposal are the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, both of which would face cuts in 2018.

The DOE’s proposed cuts seem small compared to other departments with 6% or $1.7 billion in cuts having been proposed to its 2017 allocation. However, under this prospective budget, the National Nuclear Security Administration would receive a $1.4 billion boost, meaning cuts to other programs in the department – ones that might impact building operators – compound under this budget.
One of the hardest-hit agencies under the proposed budget cuts is the EPA; the agency’s overall budget would shrink by 31% or $2.6 billion. Stating a desire to cut back on regulations that hinder businesses, the president set his sights on cutting one particular program in the EPA: ENERGY STAR.

 
 
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