WHAT DO YOU SEE WHEN YOU LOOK IN THE MIRROR? – Volume 2, Number 8, November 23, 2012

It seems like yesterday, but it was actually 1993. Sue, the kids and I were watching the Walt Disney movie Cool Runnings, a story based on the first Jamaican Bobsled Team. One of the actors, John Candy, was a household favorite with his lovable roles in Harry Crumb“, “Uncle BuckandTrains, Planes & Automobiles to name a few. The next year we would sadly lose John Candy as he would die in his sleep from a heart attack at the all too early age of 43. Candy, a big man (by any standard) standing at 6′ 3″ and weighing close to 330 lbs. at the time of his death, apparently smoked a pack of cigarettes each day. Years of practice (read a bad habit) readied him to respond with spontaneous humor with references to his size. Behind the self-deprecating jokes, Candy harbored considerable pain. “I’m the one who has to look in the mirror,” he told PEOPLE in 1981, “and after a while it begins to eat at you.” Those who watched Candy go from diet to diet, trainer to trainer, hot dog to hoagie, bore sad witness to a constant struggle between his good intentions and his self-destructive desires. “I know what I have to do if I want to lose weight and stay healthy: eat a proper diet and exercise,” Candy said. “All I’ve got to do is apply it.” (1)

Keeping John Candy in mind, regardless of which movie we watched as a family, it always seems that we would walk away with one or two lines that we still to this day repeat time and time again. Cool Runnings was no exception. In this particular scene, Yul Brenner (played by actor Malik Yoba) attempting to “shake-up” his younger counterpart Junior Bevil (played by actor Rawle D. Lewis) grabs and holds him up to a mirror. “Look into the mirror and tell me what you see” Brenner barks out. Junior Bevil responds, “I see Junior; I see a young boy who’s afraid”. Yul Brenner responds – “You see Junior? Well, let me tell you what I see. I see passion! I see pride! I see power! I see a bad-ass mother who don’t take no crap off of nobody!!!” Brenner’s intense and passionate delivery declaring how he saw Bevil is forever entrenched in my mind.

Some 19 years after first seeing Cool Runnings I had the delightful pleasure to meet George (not his real name) at one of my personal training sessions at The MAC (Maryland Athletic Club). Afterwards I learned that George had over the last year or so had lost approximately 200 pounds. WOW I thought, that’s simply incredible!!! Still, when I first met him, what impressed me most was his smile, his enthusiasm and genuinely good nature; I knew immediately George was a good person with a wonderful heart. George was the kind of person you just wanted to be around. While George looked great, he still didn’t see it that way. He still wore clothes which were too big for him and spoke in terms of what he perceived as his weaknesses and shortcomings; quite simply it appeared to me that he lacked self-confidence. Apparently when George looked in the mirror, he still saw “the old overweight George”.

OK Kimasabbie, by now you must certainly be wondering where I’m going with this blog. Well it’s your turn; you knew this question was coming,    What do you see when you look in the mirror?” Do you see confidence, enthusiasm and kindness or do you see the little boy Junior who’s afraid? Is your thinking “up-to-date” with your present situation or are you like George, living in the past? When you look in the mirror, are you like John Candy hating what you see and harboring pain? While you might feel your situation is hopeless, I’m here to tell you it’s not; it simply doesn’t have to be that way. In life there are both “good habits” as well as “bad habits”. A habit is nothing more than a behavior that repeatedly occurs, usually on a subconscious level; make the law of habit work for you in a positive way. Looking in the mirror doesn’t have to apply solely to physical attributes, it can also relate to our thinking, our internal moral compass or even our attitudes and how we relate to others. Remember from previous blogs, as related in Volume 1, Number 1, October 18, 2011 – NOTHING CHANGES IF NOTHING CHANGES and Volume 2, Number 4, July 23, 2012 – IF YOU WANT TO CHANGE YOUR WORLD, then change your words. Last, but not least, recall from BEFORE YOU CAN LEAD, YOU MUST LEARN TO FOLLOW, Volume 1, Number 6, November 3, 2011 where Dr. Keith Ablow, noted psychiatrist stated in the book he co-authored, The 7 Seven Wonders That Will Change Your Life, “more than any one thing, you must be truthful with yourself; It is never too late to turn and face the real story of how you became who you are in this world, in order to rid yourself of any emotional or behavioral patterns, especially unconscious ones, that are undermining your possibilities.”

I just heard that George finally ditched the old clothes and is fitting into regular size clothes you can buy off the rack. Apparently he summoned the strength from within to face the truth and breakthrough his self imposed distorted image of self. We were all so happy. Gone is the Junior Bevil mentality of being the little boy who’s afraid. Left behind is his “living in the past” bad habit. I’m sure John Candy is looking down and smiling knowing that George showed incredible strength and intestinal fortitude even if he could not. Looking in the mirror will never be the same.

With God, while all things are possible, we must still give it our best efforts. We must think positively avoiding John Candy opportunities to put ourselves down using humor as a disguise. We must be willing to let go of bad habits and replace them with good habits. We must live in the present and be disciplined enough to put our goals into action. We must be kind to ourselves recognizing that true change occurs from within. Are you worth being noticed? Are you smart enough or strong enough to attain your goals? You better believe you are!!!! As I have said many times before and bears being repeated….The most important voice you hear is your own….make certain you are broadcasting positive thoughts of faith, hope and love.  Be kind to yourself – change the channel (preferably to WJOE) and commit to being your best. Do this and your good intentions will win out over any weaknesses and/or self-destructive desires. I know you can do this, George knows it too and so does the spirit of John Candy. Now get out there and clean up your mirror, smile and see the wonderful creation of God that we all know and love…you!!!!!

Have a GREAT day!!!!! May God Bless You!!!!

Joseph V. Carlozo (Joe)

(1) People Magazine March 21, 1994 Vol. 41 No. 10 Exit Laughing By Karen S. Schneider

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GO AHEAD – MAKE MY DAY – Volume 2, Number 7, October 5, 2012

I know what you’re thinking — “Dirty Harry” no doubt!!! Harry Callahan, the fictional City of San Francisco Homicide Division Inspector made famous by legendary actor Clint Eastwood. It was actually during the 4th film in the series, “Sudden Impact” (1983). It all started when innocently enough when Callahan goes into a diner to get a cup of coffee. While inside, the diner is robbed. Callahan runs outside after the robbers and kills two of them in a shoot out. The third robber grabs a fleeing waitress and holds a gun to her head threatening to shoot her. Instead of backing off, Callahan points his .44 Magnum revolver at the robbers head, clenches his teeth and in a Clint Eastwood tough-guy low voice blurts out, “Go ahead – make my day”. But it didn’t stop there, two years later, when speaking out against taxes at the 1985 American Business Conference, President Ronald Reagan stated “I have my veto pen drawn and ready for any tax increase that Congress might even think of sending up. And I have only one thing to say to the tax increasers. Go ahead—make my day.” Although Clint Eastwood and President Reagan brought notoriety to the phrase “go ahead, make my day” it was actually written by Charles B. Pierce, an independent filmmaker who is credited with “story by” in the film “Sudden Impact”. He gives credit of the actual origins of the phrase to his father Mack, who used to tell him as a child, “Just let me come home one more day, without you mowing that lawn, son just go ahead…..make my day”. So clearly, anyway you look at it, “Go ahead – make my day” was used as a threat, but does it have to be? Keeping that in mind, let me share with you a true story which just happened to me.

We had just finished up the September 15 tax filing deadline for partnerships and corporations. The previous three weeks were physically and mentally exhausting. It’s times like these that you must summon strength from within, that you practice walking by faith, and not by sight. Still, when our minds are tired it’s easy to get down (yes it happens to the best of us) and lose that spring in your step, sparkle in your eyes and passion within your heart. And so as I entered the office on this morning and came through our reception area I was  quite frankly whipped, and  consequently, not my best self. As I do all mornings when I come in, I make my traditional turn to my right and say “Good Morning” to my son Joe. It’s always great to see him. I never in a million years thought we would be working together. But on this morning, Joe was helping a rather tall, distinguished-looking gentleman with his iPad set-up. Much to my surprise, it was my mentor and Business Coach, Bill Berndt (See Blog – THE BUSINESS COACH – Volume 1, Number 13, December 29, 2011) who I had not seen in a while. I had been meaning to call Bill, but the hectic pace of meeting the September 15 deadline had left very little extra time. Still, seeing Bill and Joe together on this particular morning had an impact on me, a profound impact. You see, on this morning, without any notice or fanfare, they had no idea they had “made my day” but they did. Their enthusiasm, smiles and genuine happiness to see me put the wind back in my sails. Afterwards, Bill came down to my office and we had a chance to talk for a few minutes. He had been in my shoes before; he understood the pressures, the challenges and the responsibly of running a CPA Firm. As we went to say good-bye, I told him how much it meant to see him. He seemed genuinely touched, and thanked me. His unplanned visit on a morning when I was down, gave me new meaning to “make my day”. And so, as I do when passing moments in time make a distinct impression, I jotted down my thoughts and planted the seed – a new blog had been born. The time had come to give new meaning the phrase made famous by Dirty Harry – “Go ahead – make my day” would never be the same to me again.

Mother Theresa is quoted as saying “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” The same can be said of unplanned visits or calls to friends, as well as other random acts of kindness; today, cherish your friendships and “Make Someone’s Day”. Don’t be afraid to call a friend or family member and let them know how much you appreciate them. Go ahead and take time from your busy day at work to call your spouse or significant other and “Make Their Day”. Tell the special people in your life why you think they are special. Listen attentively to what they have to say without interruption. When was the last time you sent a handwritten note or card to someone? Go ahead and just take the time to be happy and helpful. Visit others on a surprise basis just to say “Hi”; Much like Bill and Joe, your presence will leave footprints on their day while touching their hearts. Best of all, without even realizing it, your heart will be warmed in quite an unexpected way. Now go ahead Callahan…you would never back off so “Go ahead – Make my day” and enjoy every minute of it. Go ahead and make a difference in the world and in the lives of others. Go ahead and be the best you can be. Go ahead and put a smile on someone else’s face but in doing so don’t be surprised when it wears off on you. A little bit of kindness goes a long way. Just like “The Universal Law” states, “Whatever you cast off in life, comes back in return”. In closing I wish you the best and while you’re at it…Have a great day!! May God Bless You!!

Joseph V. Carlozo (Joe)

PS. Shortly after writing this blog, Sue and I received the following email from our daughter Jessica. Needless to say she “made our day” and brought tears to our eyes by touching our hearts:

Dad & Miss Sue,

Before the day gets too crazy I have been thinking about something lately I have wanted to say. Thank you guys! Watching the Orioles this season has been such a joy, and I know my love for the O’s stems from all the games you used to take us to and all those summers days we used to watch and listen to the games together. Tromley’s miniature golf course! One of my all-time favorite radio memories (1). Watching the O’s now reminds me of the good times we had and our shared love of a great game, team and baseball city. Here’s to hoping we win tomorrow and get to host the Yankee’s in Baltimore. What a playoff series that would be. This kid’s heart would be over the moon.

Love Jess

(1) Mike Tromley, a former Oriole’s pitcher from 2000-2001 gave up 3 consecutive home runs in one inning while we listened to the game in our car in route to one of our many miniature golf outings. Consequently, we renamed the course “Tromley’s”. It was unbelievable memory we all never forgot.

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EVERY DAY IS ELECTION DAY – Volume 2, No. 6 – September 10, 2012

Whether we like it or not, politics is a very real part of the world in which we live. Every four years we have the opportunity to exercise our right to vote in the Presidential Election. Just this past week, the Democratic National Convention was held in Charlotte NC while the week before the Republican Party held their convention in Tampa FL. I enjoy watching the conventions as they are filled with passioniate pleas from a host of characters who validate the event as being labeled “the theater of the unexpected”. Each party does their best to motivate their base and rally the troops while at the same time influencing undecided and/or independent voters to support their nominated candidate. I always look forward to exercising my right to vote, and encourage everyone to do the same. Still, 4 years is a long time to wait to vote for a candidate who may, or may not, fulfill promises made during their campaign. While we can not control what either party does once in office, we have an opportunity each and every day to vote in a different way; I call it our “Personal Election” on how we conduct ourselves publicly and privately. You see, when you sit down and think about it, EVERY DAY IS ELECTION DAY.

Let’s start our “Personal Election” by declaring what kind of person we “choose” to be. Hopefully, you want to become a better person. In order to become a better person, then, be the better person every opportunity you have. Elect to overlook pettiness. Learn to praise others with a gracious heart and give them recognition for their efforts as well as their rightful share of the credit. Empathize trying your best to see a situation from the other person’s perspective listening respectively. Do the right thing – always – even if it hurts. Remember,  success with honor is a virtue. Do something for another in need and do it on an anonymous basis. True charity doesn’t care about your political affiliation or cause. Forgive others for their offenses and indiscretions and in doing so free yourself of excess baggage that goes along with harboring resentment. Treat other people the way you would like to be treated – The Golden Rule is an “Essential Election” as the late George Mason discovered and passed onto his children with the simple message….Just Be Nice – www.justbenice.com.

Consider adding to your “Personal Election” a “Declaration to Win”. In order to win, think like a winner, act like a winner – don’t belly-ache, whine, moan and complain. Be an adult, change your perspective instead of trying to change others and/or your situation. Doing things we particularly don’t want to do is an opportunity to build character. Perhaps most importantly though, elect to maintain a positive mental attitude (PMA) in the pursuit of all tasks and don’t ever, ever let your circumstances take away your spirit.

In rounding out your “Personal Election”, decide to make a difference in our world. In order to make a difference, be willing to be different, be a leader. Being different doesn’t necessarily mean being difficult. It does mean being our best self reaching beyond our grasp being the best we can be, using all of our God given talents in the process. Being different means standing up when others may choose to remain silent. It means caring about our fellow man, not because of a government policy, social pressure or a law, but because we elect to do so.

While politicians and our government can and will influence our society and standard of living, our “Personal Election” potentially has a much more profound effect on our world. We don’t have to wait every 4 years to make our “Personal Election”, we can do it ever day. Become a better person, declare to win and decide to make a difference our world. Be thankful to God for all your blessings and help others who are less fortunate and/or need a friend whenever you can. Forgive others and be forgiven and in doing so “Just Be Nice”. If enough of us elect to do these things with a steadfast discipline (not a dirty word) party politics may still continue on, but we will be at peace with ourselves having won the most important election of all without a political organization, campaign funds or having released one single advertisement. Yes, EVERY DAY IS AN ELECTION now get our there and vote knowing that with God, all things are possible.

Have a GREAT day!!!!! May God Bless You!!!

Joseph V. Carlozo (Joe)

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A REFLECTION BACK, A LOOK AHEAD – AND THEY LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER – Volume 2, No. 5, September 4, 2012

As I arrived home from work the other day, I couldn’t help but notice that it was starting to turn darker a little earlier than usual. Then in a blink of the eye, I felt the air against my face with an ever so slight chill. There’s something about a change of the seasons that causes me to reflect back, as well as look ahead. Where did the summer go? It was just yesterday as we put the wraps on tax season 2012 and Sue and I headed out to Ocean City, MD and then shortly thereafter returned home to open our pool, clean up the Vettes and enjoy that special time of the year we can all vividly remember as kids.

Even though as adults work continues on during the summer months, everything just seems different, and in most cases, better. A drive on a country road, an ice cream treat (this year we discovered Prigel Family Creamery on Long Green Road in Glen Arm, MD) or a snowball on a really hot day, a dip in the pool, a cookout, eating steamed crabs and this year, even watching an Oriole baseball game, make May to August more special than just any other few short months during the year. But this summer was different, much more so than any other. In early August our son Joe was married and we welcomed his wife Emily into our family. At first I didn’t think the wedding would move me all that much, but when we stood in the church and I saw Joe and Emily holding hands on the altar exchanging their vows, my mind flashed back to the time he was an infant and then fast forward to all the memories of a lifetime. A tear or two filled my eyes as it was quite evident our little boy had become a man. We were so proud, very proud. Being joined by dear friends and family, as well as our entire team at work, made the celebration all that more special.

As Joe and Emily begin their life together as husband and wife, I’m reminded of a story that looks ahead by finishing up “and they lived happily ever after”. If we know the end of the story, and we truly believe and have faith as well as trust in God, we can rest assured that no matter how rough the waters may be, how dark the sky may turn, how discouraged and disappointed we find our spirits, we know everything will, in the final analysis, be OK. To Joe and Emily and to all of you who truly believe, keep your peace no matter whatever adversity you face. By knowing that when the “end of the story” is written “and they happily ever after” you can free yourself of all the stress and worries which are so easily susceptible in today’s hectic fast-paced world in which we live. In doing so, you can thoroughly enjoy each day for what it is, a gift, the present.

It won’t be long now – the leaves will start to fall. The slight chill in the air will become much more profound. Sunday afternoon will be filled with the roar of the crowd from football stadiums across the country. Daylight will turn to darkness by 6:00 P.M. and shortly after Daylight Savings Time will disappear. While the outdoor joys of summer fade into the sunset, our spirit and enthusiasm will create a “fire in our belly” that serves as an eternal beacon of light for all to see. At peace with ourselves, and secure with our relationship with God, we can breath a sigh of relief knowing that “we’ll live happily ever after”. Life is good…life is very good. Enjoy every moment!

 

Have a great day!!!! May God Bless you!!!!

Joseph V. Carlozo (Joe)

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IF YOU WANT TO CHANGE YOUR WORLD – Volume 2, Number 4, July 23, 2012

Last week I ran into my friend Bob (not his real name) who I hadn’t seen in a while. After a few minutes of pleasant formalities I sensed something was not right. Respectful of his privacy, I continued on with our conversation listening intently like a “wise old owl” on what was said, and, what was not. Eventually Bob opened up and asked my opinion and what advice I could offer in an effort to make a difference in his “internal” struggle. It didn’t take me long to respond to his question as I had been writing about it for quite some time, as well as echoing the themes over and over in my business and personal travels. What I told Bob applies to all of us, young and old, male or female, conservative or liberal, and ignores our religious beliefs. It doesn’t make a difference either as to what our profession is, our race, or cultural background. It pays no attention to the make, model, color and year of the car you drive. These words don’t care what your alma mater was, or if you were first in your class, or down at the bottom. Quite simply it holds that, “If you want to change your world, then change your words”. Please know these are not my words; my first exposure to them came from listening to a recording of a sermon by the late Pastor John Osteen, father of Joel Osteen and who is the current Pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston Texas. The elder Osteen didn’t say it once, he must have said it about 20 times and quite frankly I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since then. It literally moved me. Just like the phrase “nothing changes if nothing changes” from my first blog, Volume 1, Number 1, October 18, 2011, many times simple words can have such a profound effect. “Why now”‘ you may ask, “are these words more important than ever?” To answer this question, at this time, it might help to take a step back and look at your present situation.

Let’s start with your work environment. What kind of messages do you hear from the leader(s) of your company not to mention, those around you, regardless of their position in the hierarchy? Now let’s move into your home, what messages are you hearing from your spouse, significant other, children, parents or grandparents and what messages are you sending them? Let’s not forget our friends, are they broadcasting positive thoughts of faith, hope and love or are they a constant drain spilling out doom and gloom, whining, complaining and moaning about anything and everything? And last, but not least, and perhaps the most important, what message are we receiving from the most important voice we hear…..our own. Are you listening to WJOE radio or the other station in town, WSHT? Whether we realize it or not, all of these things have a way of wearing off on us and without realizing it we can easily become an unpaid spokesperson for negativity, regardless of the subject. A few years back in wrapping up my annual Presidents Letter, I wrote:

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.

Watch your words, for they become actions.

Watch your actions, for they become habits.

Watch your habits, for they become character.

Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

 My research tells me this quote was presumably written by a man named Frank Outlaw, although the source has not been confirmed, while others attribute it to Mahatma Gandhi. Nevertheless, the quote is still good and makes one think carefully about our thoughts, words, and actions that contribute to our character and determine our destiny. Actually, a great deal of Christian wisdom is loaded in this quote and remarkably, it intersects with Pastor John Osteen’s theme, “If you want to change your world, then change your words”. When it comes right down to it, we cannot change others, we cannot change the media; the only thing we can control is ourselves and our perspective. When we think and speak negative, we are only hurting ourselves and others around us. We can control our thoughts. We can control our words. We can control our actions. We can control our perspective. When we pause for a moment in reflection we eventually realize these simple ideals are not only within reach, but accept it with open arms (and this is the key), our positive words can and will make a difference, actually a profound difference in our circumstances. Don’t let your circumstances dictate your attitude. Instead, let your attitude bring an infectious positive influence on your thoughts, words and actions. Start by taking it one hour at a time working towards one day at a time, then one week and eventually every day. In due time, the bad habit will be replaced by the good habit. In the final analysis, I’m convinced you’ll notice a change you may have previously thought was impossible.

When Bob and I shook hands to say good-bye, I sensed a sigh of relief in his voice; I was hopeful that I had broken through and while “I had led the horse to water, I couldn’t make him drink”.  Inevitably, it was up to him if he was to going to put an end to his negative thinking and change his world through his words. Whatever happens, he has stayed in my thoughts and prayers and I will continue to be supportive. Now it’s your turn. Do you want to change your world? Do you suffer from the bad habit of negativity? Are you hanging around the right people in your life or are you falling down a slippery slope in which being positive is an exception, as opposed to a rule? What station are you listening to? Sometimes all that’s needed is a slight change of the dial to get back on the right track and have the signal come in loud and clear. You have my support; you have my encouragement. You can do it; just make up your mind to change your world keeping in mind that the most important voice you hear is your own. Now don’t tell me, show me and while you are at it, have a great day!!!!

May God Bless You!!!!

Joseph V. Carlozo (Joe)

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GOOD ENOUGH – Volume 2, Number 3, July 5, 2012

It was September 1966. I was 14 years old and had just started my freshman year at Calvert Hall College High School, an all boys Christian Brothers school with origins going back to 1845. Relocated in 1960 from the heart of Baltimore City to Towson (Baltimore County) MD, Calvert Hall was more than a high school to me. It was like I had grown up there with Pop being a teacher and coach at The Hall starting in 1961. During the ensuing years I would spend many a day coming over to The Hall after grade and junior high schools spending time with the football and basketball teams watching Pop coach absorbing everything I could about motivation, leadership and developing players to their full potential. While I would get to know all of the players (and memorize their numbers) I would also meet many teachers, as well as the family of Christian Brothers. The Hall was like a second home to me. Consequently, it made my freshman year a little less intimidating than it ordinarily might be.

 In one of my first classes at The Hall we were introduced to a poem by Edgar A. Guest entitled “Good Enough”. Written in 1927, some 40 years later as young boys striving to become young men, we would read and reread the poem until the point where we knew it like the back of our hands. This early lesson in education taught me “The Law of Learning” was quite simply “repetition”. Years later, when I run into fellow classmates, we can still “fill in the blanks” with these simple words committed to memory over 45 years ago:

“GOOD ENOUGH”

By

Edgar A. Guest

My son, beware of “good enough,”

It isn’t made of sterling stuff;

It’s something any man can do,

It marks the many from the few,

It has no merit to the eye,

It’s something any man can buy,

It’s name is but a sham and bluff,

For it is never “good enough.”

With “good enough” the shirkers stop

In every factory and shop;

With “good enough” the failures rest

And lose to men who give their best;

With “good enough” the car breaks down

And men fall short of high renown.

My son, remember and be wise,

In “good enough” disaster lies.

With “good enough” have ships been wrecked,

 The forward march of armies checked,

 Great buildings burned and fortunes lost;

Nor can the world compute the cost

 In life and money it has paid

 Because at “good enough” men stayed.

Who stops at “good enough” shall find

Success has left him far behind.

There is no “good enough” that’s short

Of what you can do and you ought.

The flaw which may escape the eye

And temporarily get by,

Shall weaken underneath the strain,

And wreck the ship or car or train,

For this is true of men and stuff—

Only the best is “good enough.”

So much has happened in the world, not to mention my life, since 1966, yet it is clear to me that  fundamentals, like those contained in “Good Enough” have stood the test of time and are just as, if not more so, relevant in today’s hectic and fast paced world in which we live. Whether it be in our professional lives, in our marriages, as parents, or as sons and daughters, in relationships with friends and others, and last but not least our relationship with God, “Good Enough” is never good enough. Start by reading out loud these simple, yet profound words, and then applying “The Law of Learning” by committing them to memory. Then focus on putting the underlying fundamentals into action. In the final analysis, if we constantly strive to be the best we can be, we can avoid the pitfalls Mr. Guest cautioned us on in “Good Enough”.

It was 34 years after being introduced to “Good Enough” that I would walk the halls of Calvert Hall with my son Joe as he started his freshman year; it was the same halls that I had walked together with Pop from the time I was 9 years old. Gone was the barber shop, the senior lounge that came right out of the malt shop in a scene from a 1950’s “Ozzie & Harriet” TV show. The football stadium was new and modern, the baseball stadium reassembling a minor league ballpark. Adorned by other new buildings and a cafeteria that looks like in came out of a college campus, at its core was still “The Calvert Hall family”. Only a handful of Christian Brothers remain on the school grounds as their residence has become the equivalent of a ghost town. Yet despite all the changes, nothing can erase the wisdom contained in “Good Enough”. Just like players in sports need their coaches, nothing can change the fact that employees for a business need leaders who will motivate, lead by example and develop their team to its full potential. Whether you are the player, employee, coach or business owner, don’t ever settle for “good enough”. Always give it your best, even when it seems like there’s nothing left to give. When it appears darkest, it typically right before the dawn. Walk by faith and not by sight and honor God by always giving it your best. Now put a smile on your face, be thankful for all your blessings and go out and have a great day!!! May god bless you!!!

Joseph V. Carlozo (Joe)

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THE LUCKIEST GUY IN THE WORLD – TAX SEASON 2012 EPILOGUE – Volume 2, Number 2, May 21, 2012

It’s early morning April 20; the end of tax season was just 3 days prior. As I wipe the sleep from my eyes and stare out at the ocean from the balcony of our room on the 4th floor of The Breakers Hotel in Ocean City MD, Sue is still asleep. The warmth of the sun and the breaking of the waves add a peacefulness to the setting as early risers start enjoying the boardwalk, whether it be walking, biking or just sitting on a bench people watching. If someone had told me a few years back that I’d find it relaxing to stay in downtown OC after working 105 straight days, I would have told them that they were crazy. But remarkably, for this moment in time in a relatively short 4-day getaway, I have more wealth than Donald Trump himself. It’s all perspective, and as I see it, I am the luckiest guy in the world.

Frankly, I must tell you that I feel truly blessed. Blessings do not necessarily show up in a bank account, possessions, net worth or anything related to the natural sense. Rather, one must look beyond to the super natural to truly understand and appreciate the gift of life. It is a gift in the very sense of the word and that why it’s called the “present”. While we have memories of the past, a future that lies ahead, we all, regardless of our circumstances, find ourselves in the present. As I look up at the sky, I see the creation of God that is simply overwhelming. If you haven’t done so recently – try it!!! Family, loyal friends, hardworking staff dedicated to our mission as well as clients who have become like family, have filled my life in a way I could never have imagined. While one can focus on problems, frustrations, disappointments or all the hatred sprinkled throughout pockets of society and in the world in which we live, we are fortunately free to change our perspective at any point and see the good things that surround us all.  Growing up, Pop constantly referred to what he deemed as a universal law which simply the held that “Whatever we cast out in life, comes back to us in return.” He always emphasized that the return back will usually not come from the same person, but that it would ultimately reappear. The universal law applies to kindness, generosity and goodwill or on the flip side hatred, selfishness and malice. As a young boy I quite frankly had trouble grasping the concept, but now it not only makes sense, I see it repeatedly in my own life. When it comes right down to it, we can all make our world a better place by just being nice to others; it’s amazingly as simple as that. Look around, that person you notice that may seem cool and aloof, or grumpy and mean spirited, or even distant and reserved; in a strange way, they could actually be screaming out for love and attention from another human being.

Yes, you read it right – 105 straight days doing what I love, and perhaps even more importantly, loving what I do. Every Tax Season evolves into a life of its own taking no prisoners and leaving its imprint for all that passed through. For all intensive purposes, life as WE (mentioned 7 times in our Firm’s MISSION STATEMENT while  interestingly enough you will not find the noun “I”) knew it was put on hold while our team did our best to help others, sacrificing time, and at the core, oneself. Working with someone (clients as well as staff) who enthusiastically joins together with you towards a goal is incredibly rewarding. Just when you’re having a bad day, it always seems to work out that you talk to someone who lifts your spirits in a magical way they could never imagine. Again one ounce of niceness in the world seems to dilute any unpleasantries we all face from time to time. When Tax Season first starts out you instinctively know you can make it, but as the filing deadline approaches you can’t help but feel like “you’re in the streets of Spain and the bulls are chasing you” – as they gain ground you look to jump the fence to safe haven. Tax season is in many ways similar to driving somewhere in rush hour traffic – you know where you’re going and you know how far you have to go – It just takes longer to get to where you’re going as the bottleneck just has to work its way through. All you can do is do your best then put your faith and trust in God. Most times the outcome is a good one with “Mission Accomplished” but occasionally things don’t go as planned.  Government intervention with tax filing seems to be more commonplace as agencies are reluctant to release refunds over a certain dollar limit. Other times an e-filed return is rejected and the only way to remedy the situation is to subsequently paper file the same return which adds an extra layer of administration with, in the final analysis, the same end results. In taking a step back its clear to me that the whole tax return preparation  process just takes longer and the change 2 years ago allowing brokerage houses an additional 15 days to issue Form 1099’s without extending the due date of Form 1040’s has raised the bar even higher to get to the finish line. Throw in the weather, which fortunately wasn’t an issue this year, mix in sick days (common for the winter) and then round it out with our families who never stopped needing us and you have all the ingredients for a tax season. Bottom line – it’s more, actually much more than you can ever imagine. When it’s over you truly need to kick back and recharge your batteries which is easier said than done as pressures continue to file extended returns, especially if refunds are due. As much as you wanted to make everyone happy, it’s nearly impossible and one can’t help but feel bad if it ever comes to letting a client down, any client. Expectations from clients range from very reasonable to mission impossible. While tired, with stress levels running on the high side, you must nevertheless keep your focus and perspective – being busy in an economic downturn is one great problem. Your clients are depending on you and you rise to the occasion. Perhaps WE do things a little different than most – WE practice with our hearts and souls in addition to our minds, our experience and our knowledge – as it says in our mission statement, WE are more than just number crunchers – that doesn’t come easy, but the rewards are definitely worth  it.

Fast forward and it’s now May 14th and has been since the start of the last paragraph; Sue and I are vacationing in Myrtle Beach SC sitting down by the ocean with our toes in the water, albeit, a little cold, the pain of Tax Season has since subsided. The sun is shining brightly and the blue sky as beautiful as it could be. Day by day as we replay Tax Season 2012 in our minds, we continue to count our blessings; I still have the upper hand on Donald Trump but our focus is now geared towards how we can do our job better next year. As my friends Jake and Scout (www.lifeisgood.com) have said many times over – “Life is Good” – going through adversity with a staff second to none who share a passion to win giving their best for our team and its clients brings it all into perspective. Together with a family that brings love that overflows, loyal friends who bring unexpected happiness without even knowing it and loyal clients who have become like family, the luckiest guy in the world is so thankful, overwhelmed by God’s creations and loving every minute of the gift of the present. And so until we meet again, I wish you all the same and more, much, much more.

 

Have a great day!!!!! May God Bless You!!!!

 

Joseph V. Carlozo (Joe)

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