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So far Dave Marr has created 213 blog entries.

Into Every Life a Little Rain Must Fall

“Into each life some rain must fall” – Ink Spots.

I’ve had rainy days. I’ve had rainy years. In fact, my late forties were mostly rainy.  But throughout, I’ve been blessed. What is the best way to live your life so that when times are tough, when nothing seems to be going your way, you can come through those times stronger, wiser, more capable, and remain optimistic and energized for the future? What’s the best way?

You know guys, my life has been pretty darned good.  Even though my Dad’s anger issues weren’t fun and I was sexually molested as a kid (not my Dad) and I had the normal amount of sports injuries and I had braces and acne and awkwardness galore, I had a fantastic childhood. I felt the same amount of childhood pressure to conform and do stupid stuff. I stole a bunch of alcohol out of my parents liquor cabinet, a wildly incongruous brew, and barfed it up over the deck into the bushes. I almost died when my buddy dared me to jump off a washed out bridge which I did into the murky depths below. I thought we were going to die when my buddy Karl drove 100 mph in a residential neighborhood and the brakes almost gave out.  All that, but my childhood was great.

Time flies: High school graduation, then exchange student to Sweden, then graduate college with Swedish girlfriend in tow, then marriage. Many of you find yourself at this spot in the road. You’re young, some of you are married, some with kids. And the main of life is directly in front of you. Got a job. Got a woman. Got health. Life is good. I remember doing my first triathlon because after work we’d go to the gym and I could train. No kids!!

And then they came. With them the weight of life began to accumulate. The job now was a requirement. Being in shape was an option, as was sex. My wife began to have health issues. My role changed as I had to bring a more consistent level of support. The job (sales) fluctuated up and down causing stress. The kids got sick. The day my oldest had diarrhea in the bathtub with my daughter in there while my wife was sick in bed was probably the hardest day of my life… up to that point.

Unfortunately(?), that was nothing. When the IRS showed up to my office – Oy, that was a bad day. Or the day that FHA fined me $13 million. Or the day one of my employees committed $20 million in fraud. Or when the entire mortgage industry collapsed into a pile of dung. These days kind of stick out upon review.  Each of these episodes created a perception that my world was collapsing. And yet, I was able to show up the following day ready to fight through the issues and restore my life to my base belief that I have been blessed. And I did.

So what’s the best way to ensure that when the monsoon season comes you’re ready for it? Life has formulas. One of the key formulas in life is from James “Consider it pure joy”. This Bible passage has been foundational for me because it describes an every day reality – Life is hard, hang in there, you’re building character, it’ll pass. This Bible passage reveals to me that if they wrote about this stuff 2000 years ago, then rain probably is a universal issue. So understanding that rain falls on everyone is an important starting point.

Second, difficulties are not without purpose. A universal observation: deep growth doesn’t happen without difficulty. The glory days when I was printing money was the least satisfying days of my life. The next era when the stressful days were the norm weren’t particularly enjoyable, don’t get me wrong, but overcoming those challenges made me feel substantive. So understanding that difficulties are part of the plan helps put them into perspective.

Yet challenges are pretty stressful, so third, you have to put positives in the bank while you can for withdrawal later when you need them. When I came home from work day after day when it was all falling down around my shoulders, my wife and kids were there to pick me up.  I was truly able to rest. If you don’t have a place you can rest and repair, your life may be a short one. Your wife can provide back to you the love you have invested in her over the years with compound interest. Your kids can bring you joy as well as learn from your model.

In our house we learned that when times get tough there are stages to character development which follow a path: QuitEndurePersevereTranscend.  With young kids at the first sign of challenge they want to quit. By keeping them in the tension, you ask them to endure and not withdraw physically or emotionally. After a while though, enduring without progress isn’t enough. You want them to persevere where they move forward against the challenge.  Eventually, they transcend that particular hurdle in life. But the real takeaway is that they’ve built character along the way. In your adult challenges, you need to model for them what you have asked of them. In this leadership, your kids will have the opportunity to empathize with you which is an incredible emotional lift.

Fourth, other ways in which you can be ready for your days of pulling the plow – Read. Washington was one of the least successful military men in our history with a couple victories early and one at the end. In between was nothing but difficulty. Lincoln only saw his country killing one another in a bloody civil war. No pressure there. FDR wore the mantle of responsibility for the lives of millions and the freedom for all of mankind all from his wheelchair. I’m not those guys by a lot, but at minimum I can read about their strengths and insights. It helps you avoid whining if you think your life is hard. Reading gives you a deep perspective on the strength of the human character.

Fifth – you need community. It takes a while to develop a group of friends that allows you to escape for a while. You can’t build that over night. It’s takes years and years to get there. If you’re an introvert, better get going. Communities are one of the most satisfying and necessary components to the good life and is invaluable during a deluge.

Lastly, prayer does work. Hey, I’m a skeptic. But I’m telling you from experience and not an ideological position, personal prayer and family prayer is real. Every dinner, every dinner, my family would give thanks for our blessings. The question of whether prayer affects reality or just affects your ability to navigate reality is up to you to decide, but either way it’s something that costs nothing and could mean everything.

The rain falls and waters the ground. The soil holds the seeds of your intentions which you have planted – they will need the water to flourish.

To your growth through difficulty,

Dave Marr

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By | February 23rd, 2018|Personal|0 Comments

Suitable Helper

“Hey Dad?”

“Ya, bud.  What’s up?”

“Can we have The Talk?”

“Uh, you’re twenty-one years old.”

“No, not that one, sort of. I want your thoughts on this girl I’ve been dating.”

“I’ll give you whatever I’ve got.”

“I know that. Alright so you know I’ve been with my girlfriend a while, and I want…”

“My blessing?”

“No, too soon for that. I just want to know your thoughts on whether the person you’re with is ‘The One’. I mean, you and mom have a great relationship. How did you know she was the one you wanted to marry?”

“Hmmm. Well, we dated for a while, five years. I got to know her pretty well. I would say that I was pretty ignorant of all things I would conclude today were important. Marriage is a big deal, picking that person will define you for sure. I can’t think of anything that will have a greater impact on your life.”

“Yeah, therefore my question.”

“Well ok. I imagine I’ll say things you’ve heard a dozen times. It’s mostly about fit.  Does she fit with you?  Does she harmonize with your spirit? Does she have the same general views and values as you? Is her life trajectory in sync with yours?  These questions are hard to figure out with limited information. I’m not a fan of whirlwind marriages. I think that while you’re figuring her out, you’re also figuring yourself out.”

“Sure, ok. When you say ‘does she fit’, what do you mean?”

“Physical attraction has a kind of fit to it as a starting point. If she’s way better looking than you, then that might be a problem down the road for one of you. But the bigger issues of fit are cultural. Is her upbringing similar enough to yours where both your hidden assumptions can be brought to the surface and worked out and reconciled; or are they too different so that they’d cause a break in the relationship.”

“Like what?”

“Ok, say she grew up in a completely different economic strata than you, say 2 levels up, and was used to buying whatever she wanted. If her clothing allowance exceeded your mortgage payment because her parents showed her love by buying her material things – Would that cause strife at some point? What if she couldn’t or wouldn’t change and used debt to satisfy her need?”

“Yes, that would be a problem.”

“What if she came from a family where the mom and dad were divorced and not on speaking terms? What was her childhood like?”

“So you’re saying don’t marry someone whose parents were divorced?”

“No, of course not. But we all define love and happiness based largely on our childhood experiences. Don’t you think someone who observed family conflict every day and didn’t see affection between mom and dad might have a different view of love than you?”

“Yes, I suppose. But my girlfriend’s parents are divorced. I don’t know what her childhood was like.”

“Ok, that’d be a good discussion to have if you’re serious about moving to the next stage.”

“Good idea. Then how did you know when you wanted to marry mom?”

“When I got married I just assumed I’d be happy. I had no idea what I was getting into really. I think we got married out of momentum. It was just the next thing to do after dating for so long. I got zero advice or feedback on whether my choice of partner appeared to be a good one. But fortunately for me, I hit a home run.”

“Yeah it seems as though you and mom have had a perfect marriage.”

“Ha! No, but we’re happy now. But there was a time when I doubted. As we piled on responsibility, that’s when you get tested, personally and relationally. We both had jobs along with a new house and two kids and had been married for 6 or 7 years when those doubts came on strongest. The weight of all that just seemed insurmountable to me. I would work all day and come home and your mom would be tired from taking care of you kids plus working her job out of the house. Our energy tank didn’t have much left for each other.”

“What do you mean you doubted? What does that mean exactly?”

“We would have arguments, not fights, but strong disagreements over lots of stuff – kids, money, sex, me helping her out, her giving me respect. Ultimately it was all about whether we valued one another and how we demonstrated that value. My doubts lingered on the fantasy of having a much more selfish life where I could find someone else who was more suitable.”

“You thought of leaving mom?”

“Not seriously, but it crossed my mind.”

“Can you land the plane Dad? I mean you’re kind of pushing me away from the whole idea of commitment.”

“I don’t want to do that! The reason I hit a homerun in marrying your mom is because we fit together in ways that only conflict could reveal. Because of her upbringing, she didn’t run away from conflict.  She stayed engaged to move toward resolution.  She was always looking to resolve our issues.  I remember the dozens and dozens of times we’d lie in bed at night with tension in the air, neither sleeping. Your mom would break the ice countless times insisting we not go to sleep angry. Eventually, I shared that responsibility till it became our marital credo. I believe her parents raised her to value marriage over her own personal ego, so she was well equipped to help me grow through my own immaturities. Now, she had some of her own immaturities that I was all too happy pointing out. In that way, we were suitable for each other.”

“But you were happy.”

“Oh gosh yes. We always had this shared belief that we were building something. Even though I had fantasies of starting over with some nubile wench, that was just a passing thought I never chased. We fit together even though sometimes we had to sandpaper some of the edges. I think it goes to the biblical concept of ‘Suitable Helper.’ You familiar with that?”

“Relatively. I’ve heard you and mom talk about it.”

“Suitable Helper is from The Book of Genesis. ‘It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’ Suitability in my opinion is about growth. You want to find a woman that will help you grow and vice versa.  So you want to make sure that she’s interested in growing with you so that you fit together. My initial thought was to make your mom just like me, but I eventually grew up enough to know that that’s not what I wanted. Fortunately, we had many things go our way and we came to a place in our relationship that has worked exceedingly well for a long time. But I think all that came as a result of being equally yoked – similar families, similar values, similar likes and dislikes, no major trauma or tragedy in our background.”

“Well Dad, finding someone that fits seems a little vague.”

“If you’re serious about this girl, then you should take the time to invest in knowing who she is.  You should both go to a marriage class because she’s going to be the one you’re choosing to navigate through ever growing levels of sophisticated problems. You’ll want to discuss deep issues. You’ll have problems whether you’re married or alone. It’s better to face life with your best friend by your side.”

“Sounds ideal when you say it like that.”

“It can be. Having said all that, I’d think you should lean forward into taking risks rather than lean back and be too cautious. There’s no clear answer most of the time.

“That’s good to know. Thanks Dad.”

“I love you buddy. You’ll be fine. Maybe next time we should talk about leading a marriage when there’s conflict. That’s a discussion worth having.”

To a great married life,

Dave Marr

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By | February 16th, 2018|Personal, Relational|0 Comments

Mental Economics

“He that is good with a hammer tends to think everything looks like a nail” is my misstating the Maslow observation of “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” My thought describes a kind of confirmation bias as you increase your competence in a given area. Today’s Letter today is designed to highlight this human tendency and to propose a course of action that will increase the likelihood of success in all areas of your life.

Many of you are going down the path of specialization choosing to work in medicine, in the military, in ministry, in technology, etc. These specializations have their specific mindset that as you continue down that path will continue to mold the way you think. This isn’t bad, per se, it’s just the way it is. However, it can also be limiting. It can be limiting insofar as it can mold your thinking into the “accepted mindset” and prevent you from seeing “reality” as it is. Galileo famously got sideways with the church for promoting heliocentrism (sun at the center). Galileo thought broadly versus the church’s narrow thinking and was only asserting “reality” as he saw it, old model be damned (pun intended).

There are other paradigms throughout history that have been assaulted by new theories. Einstein’s Theory of Relativity destroyed the Classical model of Physics. In 1980, AT&T was declared a monopoly and broken up.  Every businessman I spoke with thought the decision was a travesty, as did I. Breaking up AT&T only ushered in the most profoundly expansive explosion of knowledge the world has seen since the printing press. The Baby Bells enticed an enormous investment of money into technology and this little thing called the internet.  Steven Jobs created a paradigm shift with the computer and phone. Throughout history men and women cultivated perspectives that ultimately clashed with the existing collective mindset. Certainly the examples above are significant historical paradigm shifts, as they stand out from the thousands, maybe millions, of other examples that history doesn’t record.

Your mindset will determine your success in life. Your philosophy on personal growth; your belief in the power of perspectives; your ability to harness your mind and attitudes all will be the springwater that nourishes everything you do. If you decide that a hammer is the most important tool in your tool shed, your future skill as a craftsman will be limited. You must expand your mind and explore other lines of thought besides your specialty in order to capture the most of what life has to offer. You should be at least somewhat familiar with a little Law, Medicine, Technology, Arts, Sciences, Literature, History, Politics – and Economics.

In my last discussion regarding personal Financial economics, Managing Your Money, I provided practical advice. The discussion was at its essence a simple statement to pay down debt before you increase your lifestyle and specifically the math on how to prioritize.  Hopefully common sense. You can augment this perspective with a terrific little book I read when I was in my twenties – The Richest Man in Babylon by George Samuel Clason (The link is a full length audio book!).

Here’s another great book that provides a broader economic understanding. Thomas Sowell is the common man’s economist. His book Basic Economics is a great and easy read about everyday economics. My definition of economics is it is the math of human behavior given the limitations we face. Having a firm understanding of economics is to understand “common sense” which is everyday logic. Being educated on the economic world (which is everything) helps you understand motives and markets, the cost of goods and the cost of time, politics and policy, and how wealth is created and distributed. From this base of understanding, you will be able to navigate your life with greater confidence and that your decisions are grounded in common sense.

These Letters from me are essentially my theories on economics. I am asking you to invest your most precious commodity – time – so that you generate a bountiful return down the road. You’ll generate a return on your investment as you will increase your ability to prioritize; gain more money as you discuss the many factors of your economic life; pulsate better health as you navigate your life’s priorities and the ebb and flow of your motivations; harmonize better relationships as you discuss the infinite factors of happiness and well-being; and develop a richer spiritual life as you debate the nature of God and reality. An Ironmen group offers you a magnitude of return on your investment of only 2 hours per week with 2 friends.

When I was in my twenties, I thought I was a pretty big deal, that I had all this enormous potential, that the world would come to know my name. Sound familiar? How will the world know your name? Don’t you have that potential? I’m sure you do, but you have to get at it. Consistent pursuit of a breadth of knowledge (not just information) is the key. And you need two guys to help you eat that elephant. Ironmen Group. (See any pattern here?)

Mental Economics is about investing your willpower and time. You will eventually conclude that there’s only so much time in life to create something worthwhile. Therefore you must choose. I encourage you to choose something meaningful over something superficial to focus your time on because your life screams with potential that you must fulfill. You must choose action over inaction because action, any action, will yield results, in time. You must choose faith over doubt because you’ve really got nothing to lose by moving forward with the faith that it will all work out. Therefore, choose now that you will take today and invest in yourself. Buy the books. Start the Ironmen group. Limit the internet and all the time suck. If you’re going to be good at hammering, choose this nail.

Choose life.

To your mental perspectives,

Dave Marr

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By | February 9th, 2018|Personal|0 Comments

Old too soon, wise too late…

“If I only knew then what I know now” is the all too common lament.  As it pertains to health, it doesn’t have to be this way.  You can gain benefit from someone else’s journey regarding their health insights in a much shorter time frame than you can in other aspects of life.  My journey has been pretty good, but it could have been much better.

When I wuz ignent (ignorant for you who don’t speak stupid) I did whatever came to mind. I ate whatever I wanted and lived the charmed life of youth.  Since the brain doesn’t finish developing till around 25, young people are called immortals because they are only mildly capable of looking into the future. They are barely able to see how consequences can pile up, how lines of probable outcomes intersect, or the eventual day of reckoning comes due.  For me, the future didn’t exist. I think such is the case for everyone.

But that day does come eventually. That is what these emails are about, shining a light far enough up the path for you to take reasonable course corrections so you don’t face a day when all your choices suck. The smarter you work on yourself today, the easier life will be on you down the road. This is absolutely the case with your eating habits. My ignorance did not know about factors that are commonplace knowledge today. Gluten free did not exist 10 years ago.  Now every restaurant has a gluten-free selection. Food combinations – wha?

My story: I grew up eating a normal meat and potatoes with a side of bread kind of lifestyle. Salads were small and infrequent. I could go through a box of Captain Crunch in two sittings. I would chug nearly a quart of milk out of the container after dinner. I had a bowl of ice cream pretty much every night. Yet, I was not overweight mostly because of youthful activity and family lineage. However, that kind of food combo doesn’t provide a great foundation for life. As I entered my mid-twenties, my activity level dropped, but my love for pizza didn’t. I discovered microbrews. In my thirties, children complexities entered the scene and my activities dropped again.  My wife and I were forced to embrace the notion of nutritional education and discipline.  Now twenty years later, I’m finally getting the hang of it.

Here’s the thing, as you know I’m no health expert.  All my current conclusions are from several decades of living, learning, and observing my habits and the drawing conclusions. I’m not talking straightforward cause and effect.  For example, I started getting springtime allergies. So naturally I took drugs to reduce the effect of sneezing attacks. Come to find out, steroids can cause sterility. Uhg. Ok, no drugs. A few years later I determined that I had a gluten intolerance. A few years after that, I observed the connection between the two. So now, instead of taking drugs, I have greatly (90%) reduced my flour and grain intake. Allergies are dramatically gone. Proof? No, but that’s my story.  That’s one result I could not get from Health USA because their proscription was to just take drugs.

So here’s a generic summary of what I learned. It may not be perfectly sound, but it introduces some topics you can introduce to your youthful life that might save you some headaches down the road:

Know your body type 
My body likes meat.  I eat protein and am grouchy without it.  I like salads, but there has to be meat in it.  My wife is the opposite.  She needs mostly salads. It’s valuable to understand your body type, blood type, personality type, etc. There are so many factors you should consider in order to customize your habits. What’s your type?

Learn good food combinations
Come to find out, different foods digest at different rates.  Who knew? If you eat meat with potatoes, the starches digest first while the meat passes through without fully digesting.  Ever see those big guys with big bellies that are drum tight? They’re not fat, just big bellies. Undigested fecal matter. It’s poop. Those guys are literally full of shit. So don’t be those guys. Instead, eat starches with salads; eat meats with salads, but not meat with starches. There’s a whole lot more to this topic. But if you do this, you won’t gain as much weight and you’ll have easier bowel movements.

Avoid Gluten (simple grains) 
Glue and gluten are related. Gluten in my system produces mucus. Yummy. It produces it in my sinuses and in my digestive tract. So when I eat breads and pastas, mucus in my digestive tract prevents my food from digesting and I get gluten belly, that god-awful bloated feeling. Furthermore, my sinuses drain. In the springtime, my allergies are made dramatically worse due to the phlegm present in my system. When I heard that I needed to give up beer in order to go “Gluten-Free” I said “Ah hell, no”.  So I’m not totally gluten free, but I’m mostly there. Be aware what breads do to you.

Drink (lots of) water 
Ok, I’ve heard this a thousand times. Cokes bad, water good. I gave up soft drinks years ago. The syrup is just sugar and it’s not refreshing. Water does satisfy. But I have rarely committed to drinking what my body needs. Every time I do, I feel tons better. My observation is is that I, along with most of the world, walks around slightly dehydrated. When you do that, your body just doesn’t work as well. Try flushing a toilet without water – ugh.

Make the Investment
To buy quality food it costs plenty. Nonetheless, this should be a priority for you and your family in your monthly budget. I never asked my wife to skimp on buying good food. Cut back on everything else, but not good food. Live foods, like salads, have the nutrients that your cells need to replenish. With a busy life it’s much hard to shop all the time for this kind of food. But reality can be postponed for only so long. The day will come eventually when your body pays the bill.

Be mindful
Live with an intent to learn how your body does with the different choices you make. Does pizza make you bloated and tomorrow not able to poop? Maybe, just maybe, your body is telling you something. Instead, try food combinations for a week and see how you feel.

If you got this far down the email, good for you. I imagine myself 25 years ago saying “Nutrition? Blah, blah, blah.” That’s the wise too late part. The sooner you think through your history and start the long process of figuring out your body, obviously the better off you’ll be.

To your healthy life.

Dave Marr

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By | February 2nd, 2018|Personal, Physical|0 Comments

The Matrix

In The Matrix, our post-apocalyptic hero Neo is introduced to the idea that he is living in a dream world by Morpheus (named after the Greek god of dreams). He is told his senses are lying to him, that what he is experiencing wasn’t real. As Neo confronts this new thought, the Matrix fights back. Old ideas die hard. Neo’s guide, Trinity, helps him navigate this dark world and helps Neo come to the fork where he must determine if he is the One. At the climax, Neo is betrayed by the Judas-like Cypher and he battles the forces of the Matrix. In the end, he is shot and killed. But through Trinity’s declaration of faith, Neo overcomes death and pulsates with newfound power and defeats evil. He finally sees the Matrix for what it is—an illusion.

As Captain Obvious, it appears to me this is a movie about one’s spiritual journey. Potential sacrilege aside, the movie is brilliant in creating an allegory around the ideas of self discovery, power, and purpose. You are Neo. You are the main character in your movie. You are waking from a dream where everything seems real, where you have had very little control over your life. This was your childhood through adolescence.  And here you stand today recently launched into the world — The Matrix — from which you must wake.

Of course if some hot chick that only whispers and wears killer black leather outfits says that you’re “the One” and you as her soulmate, then you’re off to a good start.  But a Trinity or Morpheus seeking us out and offering us the red pill seems unlikely. Instead we have to learn to read the signs and listen for the voice on our own. We must wake from this dreaming state. Your senses will offer you the same fork that it offered Neo – believe only what you see or go deeper down the rabbit hole and learn to see what you believe.

The formula: Self Discovery (that portion of yourself that you share with God) becomes Power (that ability to affect the world in a positive way) becomes Purpose(that calling/assertion that connects others to their Godly potential). This formula answers the questions: “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?”. You must wake up and decide who you are and why you are on this planet.  As you begin to wake from the dream and realize who you are you gain power to fulfill your purpose. And you have one. Don’t be mistaken on that point. Many people just don’t wake up to discover it.

Let me ask you: Why do you always look at yourself as you pass a window?  Why do you always try and catch your own eye? Have you changed since you left the house this morning? Are you just excessively vain or weak? OR are you trying to see inside into the only place you know to be real? You look into the depth of your own eyes because you’re trying to look down the rabbit hole.  It’s only slightly vain to constantly check yourself to see that you’re presenting yourself to the world. Everyone does that. No, you’re actually trying to see past the matrix.  You’re trying to find out who you are.

Ok, maybe you’re not tracking here because I’m being a bit “out there”. But the illusion of this world indicates separateness. However, we are not as separate as your senses might indicate. Certainly you’ve been in a conversation with a friend and experienced a high from it, how your energy merged to make you just a bit more focused or your comments a bit more insightful than if you were just by yourself. In that moment you experienced something real; a bit of the holy spirit, “When two or three gather in my name”. Namaste. Flow. When you “feel” someone, you are picking up something that is not of the Matrix. Other real elements that lack physical matter but matter to you enormously are character traits like integrity, persistence, love, grace, patience, joy, otherness, and faith. Develop these. These qualities are not superficial.  You will find the answers to yourself in these qualities. They are not of the Matrix.

One last attempt at making this point! The world is constantly feeding you data, assaulting your senses, trying to distract you, trying to keep you asleep in the dream state, to keep you superficial. By being distracted, lacking focus, lacking integrity, lacking individuality, the world can control you. You are a consumer. You lack power. BUT!!! by disciplining yourself physically, mentally, spiritually, you can emerge from the dream. You can discover yourself which will give you power to align with your purpose. Amen.

To your continued spiritual development,

Dave Marr

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By | January 26th, 2018|Personal|0 Comments

$quare 1 with Money

I’m no money manager, so get professional advice elsewhere.  But I have been blessed with a few shekels that I could rub together that has allowed me to learn some of the pitfalls and upsides.  I’ve also been in the business of selling money for the last 25 years, so I’ve had to explain my thoughts on how to make financing decisions several hundred times (but never written in a page and a half). At different times of your life, you’ll focus on different techniques of managing your money.  In general, there are two main factors to think about – cash flow (basically funding your lifestyle) and net worth (basically creating savings and investing).

It’s a Maslow’s thing when talking about money and timing.  If you’re below the poverty line and you get your next incremental dollar, you’ll probably use that dollar to satisfy some of your basic needs – food, clothing, shelter.  If you’re young and on your own and get an incremental dollar, you’ll probably do the same if you earn barely enough to get by.  As you move north of that line of satisfying your immediate needs, you’ll need to figure out what to do with your growing abundance.  So this Letter is more practical in nature.

Immediate Safety Net
If you have debt, I’d limit my savings to 1 month’s expenses as a cushion to handle unexpected events like a car malfunction or parking ticket or medical deductible, say $2-3000.  This will test your ability to leave money in savings.  If you can’t leave a couple grand in savings, then the rest of my advice below is worthless.  After you’ve paid your basic expenses and have accumulated the cushion, then aggressively apply the rest of your paycheck to paying down debt.

This will highlight the difference between cash flow and net worth fairly clearly.  You may have student loans, car debt, and credit card payments. Each has an interest rate and a repayment rate.  The interest rate is the daily rate you are charged for money you owe – say 10% on credit card, 6% on the car, and between 5-8% on student loans.  The repayment rate is the minimum payment required by your debt agreement (expressed as a percentage). It’s somewhere between 2-7%. So if you owe $5,000 in credit card debt and pay $250/mo your repayment rate is 5% even though your interest rate is 10%. The two rates are obviously not the same.  Usually, the lower the interest rate, the higher the repayment rate so they can get you to pay things off faster. Also, the higher the interest rate, the lower the repayment rate so they can get more money out of you.
So here’s the scenario – you’re bouncing along with a job breaking even on your living expenses while paying your student loans, car payment, and a little credit card debt. You get a raise of $500/mo. Do you invest the money in the stock market? Buy a couch for your apartment? Pay off your credit card debt? Car loan? or pay down your student loan debt? Or, screw it, go to Mexico?

There’s several ways to look at it. Your psychology plays the determining role in what the right choices are. What are your goals? Are you sleeping on the floor and don’t want your girlfriend to come over because of it? Are you conservative in using your credit card or do you rack it up to the limit every time?

To decide on what to do with your extra $375/mo (25% taxes) is dependent on your particular personality features. But what I’d do is get a little breathing room on cash flow. I’d promise myself that if I was diligent for a few months, I’d reward myself a little at the end. I’d take 3/4ths of the raise I got ($282/mo) and apply it to the payment that cost me the most cash flow, i.e. the highest repayment rate. I’d focus all my $282 on paying extra on that loan till it was gone. As I said, cash flow is about lifestyle and net worth is about growing wealth. The other 1/4th of the incremental cash flow, I’d save for a couch or that trip to Mexico. So by the time I was up for that next raise, I’d have a bunch of debt paid down and a new couch. But beyond the couch (and here’s the challenge), I don’t raise my standard of living. I don’t go to Starbucks more or out to dinner more. That’ll just eat up your extra cash. You gotta keep your lifestyle the same except for the couch.

The best investment you can make when you’re young and not expected to make a boatload of money in the short run is to pay down unsecured debt (student loans, credit cards, car) and leave secured debt (house) alone. Unsecured debt is lifestyle debt and says the most about your personal disciplines. I have financed guys that make enormous amounts of money who also spend enormous amounts of money. When trouble comes, they’re ill prepared to handle it. Divorces and bankruptcies are commonplace for those kinds of guys. In your life, you will face difficulty – debt will make it worse.

Once you’ve paid down all your consumer debt, put an aggressive path toward paying off student loan debt. A good plan would be to take your car payment dollars and apply it towards student loan debt. Pay off the highest interest rate first. After each loan is paid off, take that payment and add it to one of the others. The key to the whole thing is to delay moving the cash flow to lifestyle until you can actually afford lifestyle. The challenge here is that student loans could last for 7-10 years. You might not want to postpone your lifestyle that long.

Big Point
The world wants you to owe. If you owe lots and lots of money, you are a slave to the machine. You’re just a ATM machine that VISA and the government can just tap into. You’re a coppertop in the Matrix. You are therefore forced to work to pay your debts. So pay off your debt and remain debt free. Free is freedom. The only situations that debt makes sense from this point forward is when buying an appreciating asset (house) or when you invest with positive leverage (for another day).
You can never save yourself to wealth; but you can spend yourself to poverty.  Don’t use consumer debt.

To your economic success,

Dave Marr

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By | January 19th, 2018|Economic, Personal|0 Comments

Man in the Polis

I stole that title from William Bennett in his fantastic book: The Book of Man. In it, he takes writings from throughout history and categorizes them into 1) Man in War;  2 )Man at Work; 3) Man in Play, Sports, and Leisure;  4) Man in the Polis;  5) Man with Woman and Children; and 6) Man in Prayer and Reflection. I recommend this book with all my being. I gave it to my two boys with an inscription that I hope they’ll keep for their sons. I recommend doing so for your boys when they’re at least 20 years old. Even at that, it’s a bit weighty.

But I digress a tad. Today’s letter is about how incredible this country is. Still is.  It will always be, as long as there beats in the hearts of its people the values we all cherish: freedom, individual responsibility, family cohesion, and communal comity. It is with this idea—love of country—that I write to you every week. It is my desire that you take one idea, a seed of truth, and plant it in your life with all the care and nurturing that you can summon, and grow that into a forest of well-being. That idea—you matter.  Oliver Wendell Holmes said: “You must sail, sometimes with the wind, and sometimes against it.  We must not drift nor lie at anchor.”

You matter to you. You matter to your current family. You matter to your wife and your children, and their children. You matter to your friends and their children. Your light cannot be muffled under a blanket of insecurity and unmanliness. Your life and all of society’s existence depends on you waking up to your God-given power to nurture your garden into abundant well-being.  Overstatement? I think not. When you compare an energized man with an optimism for life versus a drifting man who believes he’s powerless against larger forces, which man would you bet matters  more to his world?

There is a phenomenon that has gripped society today that is a negative trend, among many negative trends, that I think will not serve America’s interests. It is  man who is like the drifting boat; the Independent voter. Stay with me, because this civics point does serve your interests and isn’t intended to be political. The Independent voter’s mantra is essentially this: “I want to remain neutral until the end and vote for the best candidate.” Unfortunately, the Independent’s values won’t be on the menu at that late date. So they won’t necessarily get to choose among the best candidates that could have been available had they participated sooner.

This point is not a small one. From your perspective, it’s about the scope of things you consider important to your family’s well-being. There’s taxes, healthcare, global warming, the cost of education, foreign affairs – will these candidates present you with acceptable or unacceptable choices? The independent voter says that he is a victim to those issues and is willing to let other’s frame the discussion and decide. That’s because Independent voters can’t vote in primaries where all the action is. By the time the general election rolls around in November, the parties have decided everything and the choice is binary. Candidate A will support Party A on all the issues versus candidate B who will largely do the opposite.

The reason Independents have come to this conclusion, in my opinion, is because the issues are too complex; the media focuses on the latest shiny object; their lives are too busy; the parties promote conflict in order to dispirit the electorate so that they can control the outcome by getting out their base; and politicians will say anything to get elected. Who needs all that aggravation in one’s life? Yup, it’s not easy to decide what’s important at a young age.

Here’s what I suggest: Decide that over the next 4 years, you’re going to inch your way into understanding the issues of society. You can’t just pick one source, like Jimmy Fallon or Fox News, you have to spread it around. I like RealClearPolitics.com because it has a balance of views. Then you need to pick a party to join. Yes, you’ll get stuff in the mail. That’s a part of life. But by picking a team to support, your boat will pull anchor and sail. Your team should reflect your values, of course. You need to observe what their values really are rather than what they say they are or what the opposition says they are. That takes time and it takes the skill of discernment. It takes time to figure out the issues and how you feel about them. I’ve changed my mind a couple times on important things as I have matured and discussed it with a bunch of smart people. You should do the same.

Both parties represent important values. It’s easy to love your team and hate the other team, to think they’re idiots or manipulative liars – and some are, which is why it’s easy. Each party is a big tent that accommodates lots of folks with divergent views. When you vote, you’re not really voting for a person even if that’s your intent. You’re voting for a party and all that goes with it. To think otherwise is uneducated and naive.

Ultimately, you should vote in the primary as a minimum to your civic duty. Now, I’m 53 and have never done it, but have recently come to understand that I need to. If you become particularly impassioned you should volunteer, but at a minimum, you owe it to your future and that of your children to take a stand. Because doing so matters.

To your continued success,


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By | January 12th, 2018|Personal|0 Comments


Today’s discussion on spiritual development: I think we are jars. We come in different sizes and shapes, but jars nonetheless. Each of us has a capacity to be filled and to pour out. Some jars are big and have a tremendous capacity to take in much, as well as pour out much. Unfortunately, some jars are small. At year end, I ask myself how I can make my jar bigger so as to pour out more. I pour out my positive energy and thoughts, my efforts, my goodwill, my inspiration, my love to all those I come in contact. Some of you may wonder about my motivations as to why I write this stuff; it’s just me pouring out what I have in my jar.

My wife and kids are a constant recipient of my pouring which I believe is critical for happiness and well-being. I believe that in trying to create a life that is fulfilling and satisfying I must park my ego at the door and do what I can do to help others become a light in the world. By doing so, I make my jar bigger while at the same time creating an environment where others can make their jars bigger as well. The home is the best place to practice that because of the huge dividends it repays. The work world is challenging because there are so many new opportunities and people to demonstrate the example of creating well-being in the land of short-term constraint, ego and self interest all of which sometimes stresses my capacity to pour out. I must improve on when to use compassion and understanding and when to be firm. Regardless, work provides an opportunity to demonstrate both to myself and others that if I keep pouring myself out, others will follow.

Occasionally, I observe some people whose jars are half empty and it shows in the life they have created. I listen to their thoughts which often sound like victimization. I believe a universal truth is: You are where you are because of who you are. It’s an “apple grows on an apple tree” sort of thing. What’s the difference between half empty and half full? One molecule. And the difference between half full and a cup that overflows? Intention. So for me, Ironmen is a weekly reminder to live with the intention to make my jar bigger so I have more capacity to pour out my love to my family and friends, co-workers, customers, strangers, and basically everyone I come in contact with.

Despite the challenges one may face in the external life, working on one’s jar is an internal process that transcends victimhood, economics, religion, politics, gender, race, sexual orientation, left-handedness, and any other categorical distinctions. It is a human thing. It’s this internal process of being more gracious, more accepting, more loving, more energized, more optimistic, more creative that compounds day after day.

And the result?  The results are at once subtle and dramatic. By being a vessel that pours out in a mutually satisfying manner placing the well-being of others coequal to you, the capacity to receive love and well-being is affected. At the absolute minimum, appreciation of others and life is enhanced. But far beyond that, well-being can flourish, …and it does.  Healthy relationships create a base for personal growth that leads to seeing opportunities and, importantly, having the capacity to capture them. Interestingly, when times are good, it’s easy to be selfish. When times are tough, that’s when you need to make withdrawals from the relationship account. That’s why it’s important to make deposits in the jars of others all the time.

So what does this have to do with work or the word “As”?

There is no such thing as wearing different hats in life.  You don’t wear a work hat, then go home and put on the husband hat or dad hat. There’s no close buddy hat that’s different than the employee hat. Whether you are at home or work or play, there you are. You and your jar are the constant in your life. By living with the intention to have less ego and thereby live in such a way to practice expanding your jar to pour out to others, you are being a catalyst for positive change in the lives of all those you come in contact. You are loving your neighbor AS yourself.

For such a tiny word, “As” is pretty important. Highlighting that importance, I think, is critical to growing one’s jar which leads to the good life. “As” is usually interpreted to mean “to the same extent”. Love your neighbor at least as much as you love yourself. But that would miss the power of the conjunction.

  • It also means “While”. Loving your neighbor in the act of loving yourself speaks of the timing of your intentions.
  • “As” also means “In the same manner”. Loving your neighbor in such a way that it affects that person positively speaks to the quality of your efforts.
  • And importantly, “As” refers to “In the process of”. In the process of loving your neighbor, in reality you are loving yourself because you are working on increasing the size of your jar and thereby increasing the capacity to be loved.

Here’s an important point in all this: If you aren’t loving those at the epicenter of your life, then it’s you – it’s your issue. Somehow your ability to love has been diminished. You need to pour out in order to receive. It is a selfish motivation to pour out love and goodness on people because, not only does it feel good and rebound back to you, but your ability to love will increase over time. You end up seeing the world in a different light. And this isn’t some new age crapola slogan, it actually is true.

So – You can touch the lives of those closest to you, reflect on the role you play in their lives and they in yours, bring forth appreciation of all that you have at hand to make a life worth living, put into perspective what life is all about, gain strength to go forward with the intention to make your time here on earth matter for all those dearest to you AS you pour your life into the coming year.

Get after it.  Open up the lid of your jar and start pouring.

To your continued loving success,

Dave Marr

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By | January 5th, 2018|Personal, Relational|0 Comments

Father and Son


One day my Dad and I got into an argument. It must have been building up for a while because it was a doozy. We worked together and inevitably there’d be something that would trigger a dispute. There was and it was a big one. We didn’t speak for several months. I finally wrote a letter telling my dad that everything I had ever done, I had done to make him proud of me. But at 38 years of age, if he wasn’t going to be proud of me by then, the die was cast, and I had to live without it. Therefore, the letter continued, I would do anything he wanted, accommodate him in any way whatsoever, but I needed to move on. I would seek his approval no more. It was on that day, unfortunately, that I became my own man.

Every boy grows with a core desire to have his father recognize him as a man – self-sufficient and accepted as an equal – and to feel proud of who that young man has become. To have the mantle passed onto his shoulders is more than to be loved and recognized as mature, but to be beheld as worthy. That there might be some ancient ritual where the son is accepted into the tribe of men and given the keys to the kingdom. I would have killed for that. It’s what I longed for even past the day I knew it would never happen.

It grieved me to have it not work out that way. I loved my Dad and I knew he loved me. But his life and my life had their own trajectories. The challenge was for me was to accept our relationship for what it was and not be burdened for what it wasn’t. My Dad had his strengths: he was a good man; he loved my mom completely; he was scrupulously honest; he enjoyed a good laugh, a glass of wine, and a good cigar. But my Dad had his shortcomings: he was quick to anger; he was stubborn when offended; he was too proud at times; and he was a man of his generation.

In the end, my Dad and I were too much alike with too few communication skills and too little grace. We eventually got past the impasse because my mom pleaded for a truce. She got it reluctantly from both. I eventually grew to the idea that at 38 years of age, it was upon me to accept my Dad for who he was and realize that I was not going to change him. He was 68. We got through by talking football. We talked politics. We talked about my kids. But we never tried to go back and resolve what was said that day. Some things you need to reconcile and some things you just have to get past. This was one of the latter.

I know many of your stories. I wish I knew more. (So send me your Father/Son story).  A lot of your stories are quite a bit more emotionally devastating than mine – Fathers who write a check to never see a son again. Fathers who drink too much. Abusive fathers. Absent fathers. Fathers that cheat and the love that should go to the family goes instead to someone else. Fathers that work too much. Fathers that work too little. Fathers that can’t figure it out for themselves and have nothing but bitterness to pass down. Fathers who are there physically, but absent emotionally, absent fiscally, absent relationally.

These legacies exist. Our society is filled with these stories. It’s important for you to understand that if you come from some mild or wild dysfunction, that it’s a part of who you are. It’s in there and must be dealt with. Because if you don’t deal effectively with your relationship with your father, it could come back to live through your actions. Now, you may not have the opportunity to do it directly with him, he could be dead or just gone or doing so would just make it worse, but that doesn’t matter. Bring it up in your Ironmen Group, with your wife, with your therapist, but bring it up.

One technique that I’ve recommended is that you write a letter to your Dad that lines out all the issues and anger and crap in your relationship. Pour it all out. Get it ALL out. Then put it in an envelope, put a stamp on it, and actually send it in the mail. However, send it to your own address. Then, write a letter from your Dad’s perspective, accepting your anger and hurt. Have him explain all the issues from your Dad’s perspective. Come up with the best most gracious explanations as to why he acted the way he did. Stamp it and send that letter to yourself too. In a few days, you’ll get this handwritten note that ends “Son, I know I haven’t been a perfect Dad to you, but I’ve tried the best that I could to be a good one. I’m very sorry for all the mistakes I’ve made. Just know that I love you. Your Dad.” See how that feels. If you think I’m joking or that I’m loopy, that no letter that you wrote and sent to yourself will make any difference whatsoever, I think you’ll be surprised. One guy did it and it made a world of difference to him.

Here’s the main payoff – It is your job in life to put a stake in the ground and declare to the world that despite the fact that you didn’t get as good of a deal as many others, by God, you are going to give your family what they need, you are going to give you what you need.  You must declare by your actions that you will turn the sins of the father into blessings of the father to the third and fourth generation. You are not going to let his actions and your hurt affect your family. It stops here.

To your generational success,

Dave Marr

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By | December 29th, 2017|Personal, Relational|0 Comments

Overcoming Obstacle to Success


You’ve had them and hopefully will have many more. These “aha” moments of realization are experiences of sudden psychological/spiritual awareness from the maturing of your mind. A previously unconnected idea fits into the pattern of your conscious model. The cause of that realization? It has arisen into your reality and is but one tile in the mosaic of your life. Your mind becomes incrementally aware through theory, experiences, and inspiration. You learn theory from others, you cement the tile of that knowledge through experience, and you connect larger whole pieces into your overall model through inspiration. This re-modeling process of theory, experience, inspiration are not separate and distinct, but dynamically interrelated.


What will be the cause of your success in life? The idea of causality presumes there is an actor initiating an action and the result comes to follow – cause and effect. Success, that self-defined location of happiness and well-being, would result from sustained actions by the actor towards the goal. But you can instantly see that the complexity of that goal in the environment of life requires that the actor adjust to circumstances – that the goal, the actor, and the process are all dynamically related. This destination/journey question speaks to the maturity of purpose. It would be too simple to connect life’s success resulting from the cause solely from the actor’s efforts. A life is more than the aggregate culmination of myriad causes and effects. So although success requires your initiation of effort, there is more to it than that – obvi.

You arrive at a party (cause) and instantly are in relationship with everyone there (dynamic). Your arrival affects others and you are effected by them at the same time, instantly. If the party is your love life, your work life, your health life, and even your mental life, then you affect others as they effect you, at the same time. This dynamic exists whether you think so or not. If your mental model is more in line with cause and effect, then your thinking is too simple. You are underestimating the impact you have on others and others have on you. Your very existence has an impact. Period. A dynamic model is more complex and closer to reality.

But dynamism is too simple as well. Your success will not arrive solely through your initiation of effort and the dynamic interrelation amongst you and the actors of your life. It’s clearly part of the model for success, but too simple of an explanation. And of course you may already know that. You may know that the tile pieces of your life’s mosaic (experiences) are handed to you in a seemingly random fashion and yet, in retrospect, they fit a pattern. It takes time to see the patterns in your life, to discern truth from your own experiences. So theory and inspiration help you form a more correct model to follow. But who’s theory will you follow since there are many out there. And inspiration, is that reliable? Where does that come from? The tiles of your experience, if they result in a pattern that is unique to you, is there not a Tile-Giver that underlies the whole process? Seems so to me.

In the last Letter I asserted that the biggest obstacle to your success is you, or rather more fully described here, the mental model you have of reality. Your current model is insufficient for you to have a life that will fulfill you. It will change, as it must. However, the more energy you apply in changing the model, the more theory you can gather, the more experience tiles you can collect, the more likely you are to be inspired to higher levels of thinking which results in a more developed way of being. Epiphanies arise from the Tile-Giver to encourage and energize your efforts to push forward in life.

So what do you do with this theory of mine? This theory that states that God creates the mosaic of life in little tiles of experience laid down in a pattern unique to you. I am not evangelizing. I am describing my model. It is incomplete. So I am still on the journey to add to, refine, and attempt to articulate my model. So what should you do to overcome the obstacles that confront you on your way to a wonderful successful happy life? Be aggressive in 2018 in taking on life so that you interrelate ever more pieces of the mosaic into your understanding.

To more tiles.

Dave Marr

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By | December 22nd, 2017|Personal, Relational|0 Comments