5 Important Reasons Why You Should Vote

If estimates for this November are correct, we are looking at a third consecutive national election where only 6 out every 10 Americans decided to vote. The purpose of this blog is not to promote any candidate; rather, it is to promote voting –voting for the employed, voting for the unemployed, voting for everyone. If you feel disengaged, discouraged, or downright disheartened and are not planning to vote, let me suggest 3 reasons why you should reconsider going to the polls on November 6th.

It has started in small hamlets, midsize town and large cities.  It has started with everyone from firefighters, to teachers, to veterans and even CEO’s taking part.  It has started with the exercising of a right that attempts have been made to suppress, a right that billions have been spent to influence, a right that people have fought and died for.  What has started? ….Voting has started!

Early voting has started in many of the 31 states where it is in place leading up to the November 6th General Election.  Our government was designed for citizen participation so it is rather shocking to know that in 2008, when Barack Obama faced off against John McCain, turnout was 61.6% slightly up from the 60.1%  turnout in 2004, according to data compiled by George Mason University’s United States Election Project.

If estimates for this November are correct, we are looking at a third consecutive national election where only 6 out every 10 Americans decided to vote.  A recent article in Psychology Today summarizes findings from a US Census Bureau study of why people in 2008 did not vote.

“Topping the list of reasons for not voting is a lack of interest (13%) or a dislike of the candidates or issues (13%),” Psychology Today said. “More than a quarter of registered nonvoters in 2008 didn’t vote because they weren’t interested or didn’t like their choices.”

Many reported illness or disability (15%), especially among older registered nonvoters.  Others were too busy, or had conflicting schedules (17%).  That’s about a third of the registered nonvoters.

Of the remainder, many had some logistical problem with the process:  6% had problems with their voter registration, 3% did not have a convenient polling place and another 3% had some sort of transportation problem.

The Census Bureau study along with other polls and surveys suggest that most of the people who don’t vote are not engaged in their community, don’t find much difference in the candidates or the parties and don’t think their participation will make much difference.

The purpose of this blog is not to promote any candidate; rather, it is to promote voting –voting for the employed, voting for the unemployed, voting for everyone.   If you feel disengaged, discouraged, or downright disheartened and are not planning to vote, let me suggest 3 reasons why you should reconsider going to the polls either now, during early voting, or on November 6th.

1. Voting is a way to speak your mind and let your voice be heard!

Your vote is your voice. When we vote, we are actually telling elected officials and lawmakers how we feel about education, public safety, social security, health care, and other important issues.

2. Your vote really does count!

Remember: there is power in numbers, and when we vote and get our family members to vote, we can truly make a difference. If you don’t vote for what you believe in, others will – and you may not like the outcome.  Don’t believe it?  Look at how important each vote was in these elections:

  • 1960

If only 4.500 voters in Illinois and 2,800 voters in Texas changed their minds, the sum of their votes would have shifted the presidency from John Kennedy to Richard Nixon.

  • 2000

The 2000 presidential election was one of the closest in American history. Al Gore won the popular vote by a margin of 543,895 votes, but George W. Bush became president because he won Florida and its 25 Electoral College votes by only 300 popular votes.

  • 2004

The 2004 presidential election was also close coming down to a shift of 3,000 votes in Ohio giving the election to George W. Bush over John Kerry.

3. Our children are depending on us to represent their voices too!

Because our children can’t vote, we have to do it for them. That’s how we make our concerns about schools, safety, housing, and other issues heard. When we vote, we are looking out for our kids, and their futures.

4. Voting changes communities!

Do you ever wonder why one neighborhood gets passed over for things it needs, while another seems to get it all? One big reason is voting. When we vote, we can get results that we can actually see.

5. Voting honors our history!

Throughout the history of our country voting has been a right that citizens had to fight to gain.  When the constitution was written, only white men who owned property could vote.  The work and courage of freedom fighters have extended voting rights specifically for women and African Americans.  Many believe that the right to vote continues to be under assault with voter ID laws, the reduction of early voting hours, along the purging of voting lists.

Regardless of your view on these matter there is no mistake that the right to vote should not be taken for granted.  I urge you to honor the bravery of those who fought for your right to vote, by exercising that right in this election.

The Bottom Line: It has started…now let’s finish it!

Often times, we voice our concerns to elected officials, but if we aren’t voting, our concerns may not matter at all to them. Voting can actually give you the credibility to make your concerns a top priority for legislators.

– So it has started, now it is time for you to finish it — vote in this election!!!!  — I am Marben Bland, and I approve this blog.

10 Money Saving Tips for Savvy Travers

Over the years I met some really savvy travelers who have devised some brilliant and innovative ways to stretch a buck. You don’t have to be a frequent flyer to save money, all you have to be is a traveler with a desire to get the best for less. If you are that kind of traveler here are 10 money saving tips from my savvy traveling friends.

I travel a lot and as a small business owner I am always looking for ways  to save money while providing a level of conform that will allow me to arrive at my destination refreshed and ready to do my best.   Over the years I have met some really savvy travelers who have devised some brilliant and innovative ways to stretch a buck.   You don’t have to be a frequent flyer to save money, all you have to be is a traveler with a desire to get the best for less.  If you are that kind of traveler here are 10 money saving tips from my savvy traveling friends.

Food

Sure saving money on airfare is great but how often is saving money on food as we travel is  overlooked. Our first 3 tips can help stretch your dollars while having a tasty dining experience. 

1. Book Accommodations That Serve Breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and one you shouldn’t skip to save money. Before booking your accommodation, make sure they include breakfast in the rate. That way, you can fill up on free food and eat lighter later in the day.

2. Plan Your Meals – Figure out where you will be and eat before you actually go out. This is not just good for your wallet, but your stomach too since you will probably find economical restaurants that tastes great.

3. Stay At Accommodations With Kitchens
Grocery shopping and cooking your own meals is not only healthy, but also budget-friendly. It’s also fun to discover new grocery items you don’t have at home. Even if you don’t want to cook every meal, incorporating it into your eating itinerary will save you a lot of money.

4.Pack Your Own Food For The Airport & The Flight
Let’s face it airports have mastered the food business, the selections even in the small regional airports are rather good as the major fast food players, Subway, McDonald’s and alike are now feeding travelers. However, the prices for that Big Mac or foot long sub are typically 10-20% higher than their off-airport locations.   The TSA will allow passengers to bring sealed packages of store bought and homemade food.  Clearly your selection will be better and you will save a ton of money.  Save big money on water by bringing your own TSA approved empty bottles and simply filling them at airport water fountains.

Transportation    

We all know about Expedia, Priceline and other online booking sites for travel.  Here are 4 tips that can save money as we go beyond the box of air travel.

5. Night Train and Flights – If the transportation is going to be long, consider traveling at night to save money on accommodation and many hours of time. Many people have a tough time sleeping on these, but it’s all mental. Once you get used to it, you will be able to have a good night’s rest.

6. Take the Slower Transportation – If flying is too short for you to take advantage of sleeping while traveling, take a bus ride. When you are sleeping, you won’t mind that the bus ride is 7 hours.

7. Car Rental Coverage – Some insurance and many credit cards have car rental coverage so take advantage of those when you rent a car. All you have to do is pay with the credit card that will cover you. (Just make sure you decline the coverage from the rental company when they ask)

8. Gas Up The Rental Car – If you are renting a car and need fuel, just fill her up with regular gas since that’s what the car rental company uses anyway. Also, decline those services that fills the gas tank up for you. Even though it seems like the advertised price is cheap, they charge you for a full tank of gas regardless of how much is left in there when you bring the car back.

Discounts

The world of travel discounts are there for the taking.  Tips 9 and 10 are about finding and taking those discounts.

9. Reward Points – Even if you aren’t a frequent traveler, sign up for those reward programs since you might qualify eventually. It’s all free anyway and if you finally get enough points, you can get always get something free.

10. Age, Student and Membership Discounts – Many attractions like theme parks, museums and others have discounts for senior, children or students. If you are traveling, remember to take your ID and membership cards (e.g. AAA card) with you that might qualify you for these.

Bonus Tip: Ask

You will be amazed by the upgrades, discounts and freebies that can be obtained by simply asking.  However, be aware that the key to asking… and then receiving is to be nice.  I urge you to be nice to the front desk clerk, the person behind the rental car counter and always the airline employee.   These folks have a difficult job and they deal daily with a fair share of gruff.   A smiling, pleasant and understanding attitude from you will go a long way toward the savings you deserve.     

The Bottom Line

I have always viewed travel even business travel as a wonderful adventure; however the adventure can be so much more fun when you are saving money.  Save travels and have fun saving.

P.S. I am always looking for ways to save money during my travels and to pass those money saving tips to others.  Join the fun send me your tips to me at marben@marbenbland.conm .  I will pass them along in my next travel tip blog.   

When not traveling Marben Bland is the CEO of The Marben Bland Group a consulting firm focused on high-performance leadership, career coaching and business innovation.  Send your comments to marben@marbenbland.com

 

How to live to be a 100 and beyond – A Top 5 List

This weekend I had the honor of attending birthday parties for two wonderful women. The first party was for a youthful 87 year old, the second was for a remarkable 100 year old woman. While there is no one secret formula for long life, there are some specific behaviors to grow the soul to live longer. In speaking with my mother and her 85 year old plus friends I discovered some timeless truths to not only longevity but to success in life. Clearly these truths are not new, however what is new is the exceptional take these extraordinary women provide. I offer you these truths in as a top five list of how to live to be a 100 and beyond.

This weekend I had the honor of attending birthday parties for two wonderful women. The first party was for a youthful 87 year old, the second was for a remarkable 100 year old woman.   At both parties I had the great pleasure of enjoying the company of my 86 year old mother and her friends, all between the ages of 85-90 years old.

There is no denying that longer life expectancy is swelling the number of seniors — people over age 65 — in our population. My mother and her friends belong to the fastest-growing subset of that superannuated group. They prove the most interesting for researchers — those over age 85 and in particular the centenarians born in the second decade of the 20th century.  Think of the change and progress these people have lived through: the Great Depression, World War II, the civil rights and women’s rights movement the moon landings, the social media revolution and the election of the nation’s first African-American President.

In the most recent census, health officials predicted that by 2050, more than 800,000 Americans would be pushing into their second century of life.  By all accounts, these new centenarians are far from the frail, ailing, housebound people you might expect. In contrast, the majority of them are mentally alert and relatively free of disability.  They remain active members of their communities. In fact they may simply represent a new model of aging, one that health experts are hoping more of us can emulate.  Both to make our lives fuller and to ease the inevitable health care burden that our longer-lived population will impose in coming decades.

While there is no one secret formula for long life, there are some specific behaviors to grow the soul to live longer.  We recognize that longevity depends on genes, your life style and being blessed in staying free from chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, stroke and dementia.  In speaking with my mother and her 85 year old plus friends I discovered some timeless truths to not only longevity but to success in life.   Clearly these truths are not new, however what is new is the exceptional take these extraordinary women provide.   I offer you these truths in as a top five list of how to live to be a 100 and beyond.

5. Be Resilient

My mother and her friends have lived wondrous lives and they truly embody the American dream.  Not affluent, they were born into the Jim Crow south where their horizons were legally limited by race and culturally narrowed by gender.  These barriers never stopped them as they used education, the great equalizer in our society, to take full advantage of the gains of the civil rights movement to become leaders in the new south achieving economic power. With their husbands, they raised strong healthy families that have continued a legacy of success.  When I asked how they made these remarkable accomplishments despite all the odds, they answered simply we were “resilient”.   For these ladies being resilient meant putting their dreams in action by setting goals and not being deterred when setbacks happened.  They knew that in the end hard work, determination and above all faith would see them through.

4. Laugh … a lot

The ladies there saw their lives as one big situation comedy where everything, raising children, office politics, illness and even the death of a spouse were fair game for the comedic gist.  During our time together laughter was a constant, from good natured ribbing to heartfelt stories about long departed love ones.   These ladies were having the time of their lives.  As one of the ladies with a smile put it,” laughter truly helps us in placing our lives into clearer focus, we really don’t take ourselves too seriously – because you know the funny thing about life is none of us are going to get out of it alive so we might as well laugh it up.”

3. Blaze your own trail

My mother and her friends advised that consistently following the masses will get you in trouble.   While obedience and adherence to rules are necessary, it is awfully important to forge your own way with confidence and independence.  The lives of each of the ladies I had the pleasure of being with over the weekend were testaments to the trails that they had blazed in business, education, and the arts.  And they did it “their way”.

2. Smell that rose now

“Son you have to always stop and smell that rose now….because when you come back to that rose the bloom could be gone” is the sage advice of my mother.  During a trip to Hawaii a few years ago she and her friends devised a campaign to urge their “busy” children not to slow down but to cherish the “roses” in our lives.  From the mundane to the spectacular and everything else in between we should live to find the “roses”.

1. It is all about faith

“God gets all the credit for my long life.  Without Him I am nothing” is what one lady speaking for all said about their relationships with God.  They each describe a deep, long lasting and abiding faith that sustains, conforms and guides them in all walks of life.    Their advice about faith is; a small amount of faith will go a long way as evidenced in Matthew 17:20 “You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.

In the daily exercise of their faith these women said they were in constant prayer and communication with God.  They read scripture daily and followed these simple guidelines for making decisions in a Godly manner: 1. Does it line up with the Word of God?  2. Does it edify God and/or His people?  3. Does it significantly impact your life in a positive way? 4. Does it lead you to Jesus and deepen your relationship with Him? 5. Do you have God’s peace about the situation?

The Bottom Line

My mother and her friends are the best examples that I know of living a life that is well lived. While I may not have uncovered the singular secrete that will allow me to live to 100 and beyond, I know that this weekend I found no better guiding truths for making the attempt.

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