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Some of the Biggest Misconceptions About Life Insurance

Eighty-one percent of Americans believe their "most valuable asset" is their family, according to a new survey by Edward Jones and the nonprofit consumer-education organization Life Happens. And one quarter of respondents in the national sampling of adults confessed that their biggest fear was saddling their nearest and dearest with unexpected financial burdens if they're unable to work or die prematurely.

Which begs the question: If we're so worried about protecting what we treasure most, why don't more people have life insurance?

Ask most experts, and they'll tell you that such policies can help provide crucial resources for anyone with loved ones to support. And yet the latest figures show only 41 percent of U.S. households have individual life insurance.

"Most Americans have little or no safeguards for their financial goals," says Ken Cella, principal of the Client Strategies Group at the financial services firm Edward Jones. "They may understand the value of having emergency funds to cover unexpected financial expenses in the short term, but they're less protected for the long-term financial implications."

Faisa Stafford, president of Life Happens, puts it even more bluntly: "Emergency savings aren't a long-term financial solution, especially if a family's primary breadwinner were to die."

Much of the disconnect between what we'll call "the urge to protect" and the reality on the ground can be blamed on one or both of the following misconceptions:

* It's too expensive. Think of this as the equivalent of the alligators-in-New-York-City-sewers myth. When Life Happens and LIMRA, a global life insurance research and consulting group, asked participants in their 2017 Insurance Barometer Study how much a $250,000 term life policy for a healthy 30-year-old would cost, NerdWallet reports, the median estimate was $500 a year - more than three times the actual annual amount of $160.

But let's say that would-be policy holder wanted even more protection for his dependents. Forbes magazine recently calculated that that same incorrect median estimate - $500 - would buy a healthy, non-smoking, 30-something male a 20-year term policy with a million-dollar death benefit. Some people spend more than that in a year on caffe lattes.

That said, prices do vary based on factors like age, health, amount of coverage, and whether you opt for term or permanent insurance. The former - the most affordable - covers a specific time frame (usually 20 years or less), while the latter stays in force for life (as long as you continue to pay the premiums). Online aids like Edward Jones' complementary Life Insurance Needs calculator can help with factors to consider when determining how much life insurance may be appropriate for you.

* The policy I have through work is good enough. And if you're no longer employed there? Not only is group life insurance generally not portable, it typically only provides benefits equal to one or two times your annual salary.

"Growing families usually need greater protection than that," says Scott Thoma, an investment strategist at Edward Jones, "and they need coverage that's not contingent on work status."

Know that life insurance doesn't simply assign a monetary value to someone's life. Which brings us to another revealing finding of the Edward Jones-Life Happens "Protect What Matters" survey.

Twenty-three percent of participants didn't know it can even cover expenses like college tuition for a surviving child.

Edward Jones is a licensed insurance producer in all states and Washington, D.C., through Edward D. Jones & Co., L.P. and in California, New Mexico, and Massachusetts through Edward Jones Insurance Agency of California, L.L.C.; Edward Jones Insurance Agency of New Mexico, L.L.C.; and Edward Jones Insurance Agency of Massachusetts, L.L.C.

How to Succeed in Selling Your Business

"The largest transfer of wealth in history is now underway, and it is in the form of established operating businesses owned by Baby Boomers," according to a white paper by C2C Business Strategies, LLC, a business management and consulting organization specializing in business transitions.

Baby boomers and their transition advisors will face several challenges over the next several decades.

Some tips to make the most of the transition include:

- Prep work: Many baby boomer business owners have given little or no thought to the transition process, and they may find themselves unable to sell the business when they want to. Most financial consultants recommend a lead time of three to five years to prepare a business. Meanwhile, as more baby boomers seek retirement, the surplus of businesses available for sale may reduce business values.

- True value: Survey findings of business owners suggest that many overestimate the value of a business because they are basing estimates on projections or future orders rather than the current cash the business is generating.

- Good advice: Baby boomers looking to sell their business can benefit from a skilled transition advisor to guide and direct the process. Advisors can help business owners decide on a realistic price and determine a sale structure that works for both buyers and sellers.

As in the case of a real estate agent negotiating a home sale, a business advisor will find the right buyer for a business and will work with the buyer and seller until the transaction is complete.

Tips for business owners to help ensure a smooth sale include:

- Good housekeeping: Make sure all financial information is current and in order. Time is essential once a business-sale transaction is underway, so don't slow down the process by scrambling for information.

- Flexible financing: Data show that sellers who accept financing terms receive, on average, 86 percent of their asking price, compared with 70 percent for those who will only accept cash. An advisor can help sellers evaluate financing terms to maximize sale prices.

For more information about transitioning out of a business, visit

Decoupling from China

My prediction is that China will not drop its equity caps and intellectual property theft, and will not stop subsidizing all of its state-owned enterprises. As a result; we will see acceleration of the decoupling of China from the United States, in other words, a reversal of the economic integration and interpenetration that has taken place between these two economies over the past 20 years. So let us examine the implications of the decoupling of China from the United States.

The first area to consider is trade. The IMF has estimated that if the United States were to impose 25 percent tariffs on all Chinese imports, and China were to retaliate, the trade volume between China and the United States would drop by 70 percent. So there would clearly be an initial "trade shock."

The question here is whether the U.S. can find other low-cost suppliers. The answer is yes. We have seen that suppliers such as Vietnam have stepped up their exports to the United States, and other Asian countries and Mexico will also try to fill the role of low-cost supplier to the U.S. market. Vietnam has gained an estimated 7.9 percent of its gross domestic product from new business created by the U.S.-China trade war.

The next largest gainer is Taiwan, with 2.1 percent of its GDP added as a result of the U.S.-China trade war needed from other countries supplied by China.

In summary, if the Trump tariffs were to remain in place, there would undoubtedly be an initial "trade shock," and some dislocations. Over time, however, the United States would gradually shift its import sources to lower- cost suppliers, and would substitute rare earth minerals from other countries. So, with regard to trade, China is replaceable.

The second area is investment. Chinese direct investment in the United States dropped 84 percent from 2017 to 2018, from $29.4 billion to $4.8 billion. The U.S. government, will further limit Chinese investors through national security reviews. Meanwhile, U.S. direct investment in China has stagnated at $26.9 billion, with the annual growth rate dropping from 11 percent to 1.5 percent in 2018. U.S. investment will increasingly take place in other low-wage Asian countries such as Vietnam and Taiwan, and Mexico. Moreover, the lowering of U.S. corporate tax rates on January 1, 2018, from 35 percent to 21 percent will discourage direct foreign investment by U.S. enterprises, and make the United States a more promising place to invest than China. Therefore, if the Trump tariffs remain in place, China can be largely replaced over time by other countries as an investment target.

Last month, the Trump Administration restricted sales by U.S. companies to Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications champion. This measure will force Huawei to develop its own versions of chips and operating systems to replace those that it now obtains from the West. And last week the Commerce Department imposed new export controls that will effectively bar five major Chinese supercomputer developers of next-generation, high-performance computing from obtaining U.S. technology. The Commerce ban on exports to the major Chinese supercomputer companies, along with the Huawei ban, will promote the decoupling of the two countries' tech supply chains. Therefore, it is likely that separate operating systems will be set up for telecommunications, supercomputers, and the Internet.

China holds an estimated $1.1 trillion of U.S. government bonds. Some have warned that if China decided to dump U.S. dollars, U.S. interest rates would soar and the U.S. economy would implode. China's holdings, however, are not a particularly large proportion of the roughly $22 trillion total of U.S. government debt. Furthermore, China has already sold $221 billion in long-term Treasuries since early 2015, with no harm done to the U.S. capital market.

We are entering a new phase of increased Chinese assertiveness. China is now challenging the United States for global supremacy, while the U.S. Government distrusts Chinese intentions and sees China as a predatory competitor and an adversary. The global consensus based on liberalization is likely to be replaced by rival trading blocs. This may not be a desirable development from the standpoint of the United States and the global economy, but it is the most important geopolitical event of our era. Decoupling from China, while painful for both countries, would be preferable to a real war with China, the likely alternative.

*Bart S. Fisher is an attorney in Washington, D.C., and co-author of International Trade and Investment: Regulating International Business.


Eco-Smart Company Keeps Landfills Free of Old Textile Fibers

Eco Tek 360, a forward-thinking fiber technology company and a division of Global Fiber Technologies, Inc. a public company, (GFTX), has developed a proprietary technology that removes the fibers from fabrics that have reached the end of their useful life cycle. The fibers are extracted from a landfill-destined garment and used to create yarn, make new fabric, and then get sewn into fabric which is turned into "rejuvenated" uniforms. Each time the uniform comes back to the client, the process creates a true circular economy and reduces carbon footprints.

"It takes between 500 to 700 gallons of water to grow one pound of cotton and Eco Tek 360 can help save billions of gallons each year through utilization of its patent- pending process," says Chris Giordano, president and co-chairman of Global Fiber Technologies.

"We will take corporate uniforms at the end of their useful life that would otherwise head for disposal and re-purpose them back to the same company as sustainable, high quality uniforms for their employees," says Giordano.

"Our primary raw material is sourced from uniforms being disposed of by our corporate clients, allowing us to be competitive on price," says Paul Serbiak Global's CEO.

There are three steps to the ECOTEK process:

- Recovery: Companies collect old uniforms and send them to Ecotek. Customers earn a credit towards new uniform purchases.

- Rejuvenation: Rejuvenation is the heart of the Ecotek philosophy. The company uses a patented procedure to remove old fiber from fabric, restore it, and create new fabric. The rejuvenated fiber is soft, strong, and comfortable, and looks like new.

- Re-creation: The fabric made from the rejuvenated fiber is then used to make new uniforms.

"The entire process takes place in the USA, ensuring fair labor practices and extremely high quality standards," according to the company. Ecotek will offer customized design in large and small batches with quick turnaround times.

Buying uniforms made with rejuvenated fibers not only saves water and energy, it saves money, and allows employees to feel proud and look great with options for customized style and sizing.

Surveys show that a majority of entry-level employees prefer to work for an environmentally friendly company and more than half of consumers prefer to buy from companies with a green reputation.

For more information about how your company can go greener and look great doing it, visit

Self-Publishing Helps Parents Share New Books with Kids

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) from Amazon is one self-publishing option that offers editorial freedom and ease of use for busy parents looking to create something that meets their kids' needs.

KDP success stories include Handeep Dhoot (who writes as "Dr. Dhoot"), a mom with a Ph.D. in chemistry who wanted to introduce her young daughter to STEM topics.

Dr. Dhoot has self-published the growing Tinker Toddler series of STEM books aimed at young children, including Machine Learning for Babies & Toddlers.

"Becoming a parent helped me realize the urgency for introducing scientific topics, like STEM, to kids while their brains are still developing. KDP allowed me to self-publish books that portray these ideas in an accurate and digestible way for kids, including my own daughter."

Gabi Garcia, a long-time school counselor and mom, turned to self-publishing when she saw a lack of books for Spanish-speaking and bilingual children about how to understand their emotions and feelings.

"It's so important to engage with children early to discuss mindfulness. Self-publishing on KDP empowered me to take all that I'd learned and seen as a school counselor and make it accessible to more children, in both English and Spanish."

She has published several books on these topics through KDP, including Listening to My Body, published in both English and Spanish. She now writes full-time on mindfulness and social awareness topics for children, parents, and educators.

Brendan Kelso struggled with dyslexia as a child, but found learning and performing dramatic monologues helpful. He enjoyed Shakespeare, but, like many young readers, found the text hard to understand.

After a career in engineering, he became a stay-at-home dad and came up with an idea to write versions of Shakespeare's plays that were more accessible to kids. His loveof theater and writing led him to self-publish several works through KDP, starting with Shakespeare's Hamlet for Kids.

"I have the freedom to spend more time with my family, while pursuing my passion on my own terms with KDP."

These parents have been able to create the books they couldn't find for kids and found financial success - and sometimes a whole new career - in the process.

For those parents who are toying with self-publishing, but still have questions, consider this:

* KDP lets authors set their own prices and retain all rights to their work.

* As an author, you can publish your book in minutes, and these books are available to a worldwide audience through Kindle online stores in 24-48 hours.

* You can publish Kindle eBooks and paperbacks in multiple languages.

Visit for more information about Kindle Direct Publishing.


Students Learn to Steer Their Farm Through Ups And Downs This Fair Season

Now in the seventh year of their partnership, the National 4-H Council and CME Group, the world's leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace, are bringing their Commodity Carnival educational experience to 120 state and county fairs across the Midwest.

Commodity Carnival is an interactive game consisting of three activities that guide participants through the process of producing and selling livestock. The program aims to teach young fairgoers the dollars and cents of agriculture and test their knowledge of the risks of bringing food to market.

"There are a number of risks that must be managed before food reaches the consumer's dinner table. Commodity Carnival breaks down these complex topics and decisions by providing an engaging game for students to learn that farming is a business," says CME Group Managing Director of Agricultural Products Tim Andriesen. "CME Group's roots are in agriculture and we're proud to educate the next generation of farmers and ranchers on risk management in production agriculture."

CME Group and 4-H first joined forces in 2013, driven by the same mission to prepare future generations of farmers and food producers with respect to risk management in agriculture. Since then, Commodity Carnival has reached over 400,000 students across the country, including 77,000 last year alone.

"We are so pleased to continue our partnership with CME Group and help prepare today's youth with skills they need to be successful in the future," says National 4-H Council President and CEO Jennifer Sirangelo. "The focus and purpose of the Commodity Carnival is to strengthen our collective efforts to increase agricultural literacy and highlight the important role of agriculture commodities. Students get to take part in an interactive, hands on experience that allows them to learn by doing."

Those unable to participate at the fair can still join the fun by downloading Risk Ranch, the mobile companion app to Commodity Carnival.

To learn more about the Commodity Carnival, Risk Ranch and see a list of more than 100 fairs participating this season, visit

The Benefits of Shopping Small This Holiday Season

Motivated by the potential for growth, small businesses across the country are taking advantage of this movement with more enthusiasm year after year, given strong consumer response. GS1 US, an information standards organization that helps small brands identify their products for commerce, recently spoke with small business owners who have run successful Small Business Saturday campaigns. They discussed three big benefits to buying from small businesses this holiday season. 

Unique Products 

Consumers are hungry for a wide variety of unique products, which provides prime motivation for shoppers to support small businesses.

"People shop small because it makes them feel good. It allows people to discover interesting products, and feel like they are helping a real person, as opposed to a big corporation," says Andrew Jacobs, CEO of JAM Paper and Envelope, an e-commerce paper company.

According to a study by the NFIB and American Express last year, nearly two-thirds of online shoppers (65 percent) are likely to seek out small, independently-owned retailers. This helps unique products from small brands compete right alongside products from larger, well-known brands.

"It's so important for small businesses to be recognized in order to compete with big businesses," says Lisa Burginger, founder of Qubits Toy, Inc., a company that makes colorful building sets for kids. "For our company, it's our busiest time of the year." 

Community Support 

For many consumers, shopping small is driven by the desire to support their local communities. When consumers spend $100 at a local business, roughly $68 stays in their local economy, according to a recent Civics Economy study. The local impact, which helps benefit food, service and civic organizations within the community, could be 50 percent larger than a similar purchase from a regional or national retailer.

"I believe people want to support their communities," says Allison White, founder of Scout Cart, a unique personal utility cart company. "They often know the owners of local small businesses and these small businesses often provide employment opportunities for the young adults in our families." 

True Connections 

Small businesses can use the extra consumer attention to nurture brand loyalty beyond just one day. According to the 2018 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey, 96 percent of consumers who reported shopping on Small Business Saturday say the day makes them want to shop "small" all year long, not just during the holiday season.

"Small businesses can give you special services, discounts, and one-to-one customer service that big businesses can't always offer," says Burginger.

Increasingly, shopping is about a shared experience - the small businesses that create memorable moments for consumers will likely experience growth.

"The next generation is looking for more than just a product, they want an experience," says Travis Wayne, product manager, TEKLYNX, a barcode software company that is certified as a GS1 US Solution Partner, a program that helps small businesses find qualified partners to help them reach more consumers.

"When you walk into a hardware store, for example, or if you shop online, it's more about personalizing that experience and ensuring that the consumers get what they need. Some businesses teach instructional courses on a product, or supply some kind of educational information. It's about going above and beyond consumer expectations with the hopes of increasing the sale and maintaining a customer for life."

Taking advantage of Small Business Saturday is ultimately just one way small brands are setting themselves up for growth. Beyond the holiday season, businesses of all sizes need to think strategically to succeed in a competitive retail landscape. Visit to access research from GS1 US on the ambitions and challenges of small businesses, watch videos featuring entrepreneurs, and learn more about their growth journeys.


Co-op Yacht Ownership Offers Hassle-Free Fun

Consider this: as with anything worth having, there are expenses and hassles associated with boat ownership that you may not even be aware of. But partial (fractional) ownership offers "all of the luxury and none of the hassle" according to the website of yacht co-op management company Saveene.

It works like this: The more fractions you purchase, the more yacht usage you can experience. For example, a 10 percent purchase equals approximately four weeks of yachting time each year; 20 percent entitles you to eight weeks, and so on.

For those who enjoy the periodical pleasure of luxury boating, fractional ownership is more cost-effective than sporadic charters, and has several other advantages:

- Predictability. Saveene fractional owners hold equity in the yacht and have the option to sell their fraction any time they like. Purchase as many fractions as you want, up to 10 fractions per yacht. When you choose your dates, contact Saveene and they will schedule and prepare your yacht for your arrival.

- Pampering. When you arrive at the marina, the yacht is clean, stocked, and safety-checked. Chart your course in advance, or allow your captain to create a memorable itinerary. Bring any food and beverages you choose, or Saveene yachts accommodate a chef or catering service.

- Peace of mind. With fractional ownership, you avoid many headaches associated with owning a boat outright, including maintenance, repairs, storage, transportation, and insurance. Saveene handles the business transactions of purchasing and selling the fractions as well when the time comes.

Saveene offers a range of options for yacht enthusiasts - a Sea Ray Sundancer for $19,995, a 36' Carver Mariner for a one-time fee of $ 39,995, a 64' Aicon for $89,980 or a combined usage of these for $69,985. All types are available at the same marina for viewing before making a purchase.

Sea Ray Sundancer: This 34-foot cruiser is ideal for families, and easy to maneuver along intercoastal waterways for boating, snorkeling, and dining at dockside restaurants.

Carver Mariner: This 37-foot boat features a fly bridge suited for parties, a home-size galley to accommodate larger food prep or catering, and a full entertainment center.

Aicon: The 64-foot yacht includes four full-sized cabins plus crew quarters to handle an extended excursion. All cabins include their own facilities and TV/DVD setups, and the yacht includes a collection of water toys for kids of all ages.

Want to go bigger? Saveene is also taking orders for an 85-foot Azimut yacht.

Other benefits include the opportunity to check out Saveene yachts for a risk-free trial and the ability to write off your fractional purchase on your taxes.

For more information about the benefits of yacht co-ownership, visit

Get Professionally Fit in 2020 With Expert Online Leadership Training

Making a commitment to your professional fitness doesn't have to take a bite out of your bottom line, either.

The Professional Development Academy, an online leadership training company with top-notch faculty from business, industry, and government, offers programs in areas including high performance leadership, frontline information technology leadership, and maximizing your personal brand, all for a fraction of the cost of a traditional MBA program and easily accessible at your convenience.

The Professional Development Academy Faculty includes individuals who are proven outstanding leaders in a range of fields, including Colin Powell, former Secretary of State and retired 4-star general; Cheryl Smith, IT expert and former CIO of McKesson Corp.; and Peter H. Thomas, one of the most savvy and successful entrepreneurs of the modern era, whose six-decade career highlights include founding Century 21 Real Estate Canada, and the Four Seasons Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona, along with developing emerging companies such as Dogtopia.

Some top tips from the Professional Development Academy experts:

"Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier," says General Powell. When you bring an optimistic attitude to the office every day, others will follow your lead. The Professional Development Academy curriculum includes practical insights from Powell and other world-known thought leaders highlighting the power of a positive mindset.

Smith notes that the best leaders don't just dictate, they listen.

"Ask for feedback," she emphasizes. "Then listen and learn." Constructive and critical feedback can feel harsh, but it can provide tremendous insight for future growth.

Finally, be true to your values, says Peter Thomas.

"To be truly successful, ensure your decisions at work align with your core values. When your values are clear, your decisions will be easier," he says, and "be open to opportunities and be ready to move on them."

Starting in 2020, the Professional Development Academy is partnering with Peter H. Thomas to launch the Peter Thomas High Performance Leadership Academy, a 12-week course divided into "learning bursts" that can be completed in 4-5 hours per week at any time to suit busy schedules. The course is designed to share Thomas's secrets for success at nurturing an entrepreneurial spirit in conjunction with a values-based life.

For more can't-miss ways to boost your leadership skills in 2020, visit the Professional Development Academy at


How to Tell if Bad Marketing Is Causing Poor Sales

"The big wild card is the need people have for the product. That trumps everything," states best-selling author Lonny Kocina, CEO of Media Relations Agency. "If a product works well, even bad marketing can't kill it. But if people don't need the product, the best marketing in the world isn't going to save it."

Kocina, author of "The CEO's Guide to Marketing," explains how to tell the difference. His book has been an Amazon best-seller since it was released in 2017 and was a 2018 Axiom Business Book Silver Award winner.

Kocina says most marketers don't know enough about marketing to understand whether it is responsible for a sales problem or whether it is accelerating a product's natural lifecycle. "If a product doesn't work, you're going to find out faster when you're using a good marketing process," he explains. "So, when someone in the room tries to blame marketing for all the problems, you'd better have your facts in order.

"Does your team truthfully understand marketing? Were you on point with your messaging and your positioning? Did you use the promotional mix and schedule correctly? Did you cycle through it as you should? If you can say yes to all that, and the product didn't work, then you can say it wasn't your marketing." 

The six-step process designed to increase marketing results 

In his fully illustrated book, Kocina outlines a six-step process designed to dramatically increase your marketing results. "I call it Strategically Aimed Marketing, or SAM 6, for short. This process will assure creative people stay focused, on track and doing their best work."

The SAM 6 steps are:

1. Gain competence in marketing concepts and principles. "Wouldn't it be great if we all spoke the same marketing language? Dentists know bicuspids from incisors. Lawyers know affidavits from briefs. A competent marketer has a clear understanding and a working knowledge of marketing concepts and principles."

2. Developing code sheets. "Code sheets are a means of gathering and documenting important information about your company and the products it promotes."

3. Select channels. "The promotional mix channels you choose to employ depend on many variables, including your message, the market and your resources."

4. Schedule calendar. "Your marketing calendar is a trusted guide to ensure that you cycle through each product and its primary value points with a maximum flow of on-point promotional messages."

5. Develop a control template. "Your control template provides the guidelines for your writers, designers and other creative staff to follow without losing sight of the marketing necessities"

6. Assemble your creative team. "You need to assemble the right people for the job, and then let these creative souls work their magic within the parameters you set."

Kocina also says those who follow these steps will feel more empowered by their marketing.

"SAM 6 brings a clarity and process to this tension-filled field. "I've been CEO of Media Relations Agency for three decades. I've worked with hundreds of clients across the country. I get to see what's behind the scenes. I can tell you, the companies that follow a logical process are the ones getting the most bang for their marketing dollars."

To access free SAM 6 tools, go to


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