Earliest Memories

I put my 6 month old daughter to sleep last night, and watched her smile as she closed her eyes and fell asleep. Any parent can relate to this feeling...

So I wondered if she will ever remember any of this beautiful time. Surely she won't.

As I came downstairs and Amanda & I talked... a question emerged in my mind and I asked my wife, "What is your Earliest Memory?"

She shared two. One memory of her preschool, and an ice cream party where they made home-made ice cream and the salt spilled on some of it and ruined it. (She also described a four-posted jungle gym and slide from her preschool.) Another earlier memory was of her dad dropping her and her brother off at a sitter's house so that he could go to the hospital as her mom gave birth to her little sister.

My earliest memory is sitting inside of a car with it raining outside... watching my Mom get out of the car and run in front of the car up to a house, and my sister Steffanie tormenting me until my Mom got back.

It gave me a sense of peace to think of that time way back then. When I think of my wife way out in California - and myself in Idaho - it is pretty incredible, and I feel pretty blessed to have crossed paths with my wife, and now be able to watch my children make their earliest memories.

And, while I get to observe most of the beautiful, funny and little things that happen to my children every day... I know my kids will forget almost all.

I'm just glad that I will never forget their earliest memories!


Who Is Jake Ackerman?

The other day I had conversation with a gentleman named Justin Luedgerodt. (Did I get that spelling correctly?) We discussed the economy and the changing times.

Justin had some interesting insights. The comment that stuck the longest was: "There are a lot of people who've been successful for a long time who'll be forced to reinvent themselves."

I have had similar conversations with some of the best and brightest land developers, general contractors, Realtors, and others - and it is true.

Some people are waiting for the economy to "come back" and return to its previous way. In actuality we are transitioning into a new age.

From the Land Rush to the Gold Rush to the Industrial Revolution to the Baby Boomers - some called the last era "The Information Age". I think the New Age has yet to be written... but there can be no doubt - we will all be forced to change, adapt, and RE-INVENT ourselves if we wish to thrive.

So it is a great opportunity for me to ask: "Who is Jake Ackerman?" and really dig to find the answer.

Who are You?


Like Sands of the Hour Glass... So Are The Days of Our Lives

Come on! Who doesn't remember that Daytime Soap from back in the eighties? Anyone who has ever watched an hourglass knows... the sand just keeps coming.

This is the saddest, most joyous truth we have.

My younger brother announced Sunday that he is almost thirty - WOW! I remember making him laugh when he was two.

My wife told me last night that she overheard my daughter in a conversation about boys or something with one of her friends. When my wife walked past the room, the two girls quickly switched topics, "So... what is your favorite color?" asked one girl of the other.

I recently watched the Movie The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. It was a terrific film based on the statement that "Youth is wasted on the young".

Amanda and I went to the movie together, and took turns taking care of baby Sadie throughout. The movie highlights the life of Benjamin Button, born an old man, and getting younger with every day of his life. In the movie he meets the love of his life and is getting younger as she gets older. It is a beautiful, sad, gleeful movie... and if you want to cherish your time more - go see this movie.

It left me feeling so grateful that I have someone who I can watch the years go by with. It left me appreciating the time I have with my little children more.

So while in hindsight there can be no doubt - our lives go by like sand falling from an hour glass - the best part of all of it is that every single grain of sand can be OURS! We can touch it, remember it, savor it, and LIVE each day... and that is incredible.

The other experience that deserves a chronicle here is that last Friday, my Dad and I went to Body Worlds for our Christmas present from Amanda.

This was a pretty incredible exhibit. Just seeing the human body - actual tissues of actual humans - was fascinating (and a bit nauseating) to me. As Dad & I went through "The Story of the Heart" exhibit, the relationship between the heart and brain was presented.

The importance of working your heart, exercising your body, and being health was evident. Seeing a the physical difference between the lungs of a smoker and a non-smoker, etc. was pretty awesome.

At one point in the show, there was a paper that posed the question, "Is the glass half full or half empty". We were not allowed to take photographs, so I don't have the exact caption, but the scientific data showed that even more than diet and exercise, the importance of being optimistic is critical to the health and well being of a body. (It also pointed out that regular exercise and good diet give your body the tools it needs to be optimistic)

This seemed to be something that I have held on to and preached, and now suddenly at Body Worlds came the complicated scientific explanation (breaking through my slight nausea at seeing all that flesh) for how & why being positive and optimistic makes for a happier & healthier you... and keeps you younger!


Tough Times Make System of Values More Critical Than Ever

A friend Steve Lloyd and I recently connected on Linked In. He is one of the most brilliant software developers around. On his profile he talks about the simplicity of computer languages - and the similarities they have to other languages.

One of the benefits of a computer language I suppose is that there are rules, and (except in the case of Windows Vista, LOL!) the computer behaves according to the rules.

As people we are by nature, NOT computers. We behave erratically. On a date with a woman once, I told here she was one of the prettiest girls I had ever seen... instead of feeling complimented - she got very angry. "One of? One of the prettiest? Am I not good enough for you?" she said. I really wished I had just left it at "very pretty" or something. WOW!

It has been said that the true character of people shines through in the toughest of times. In several of my past blogs I have written about my experiences that certainly indicate that is true, and I am so grateful to those people who have shown tremendous character in the recent really tough times.

So in looking at all of these things, I have contemplated the importance of a System of Values that directs us in our behavior. Traditionally, a standard system of values might look something like this:

1. My Family; 2. My Church; 3. My Career; 4. My Friends

Others might feel this is incorrect, and change the order some - usually based upon their own experiences in life, and beliefs, etc.

1. God; 2. Family; 3. Friends; 4. Career

A couple of quick observations before we get to my point with all of this.

First - I believe that most people would SAY that their system of values is similar to those listed above... but in the end it is our behavior that proves what our values truly are.

Second - What a wonderful opportunity tough times give us - to prove our system of values, to test our resolve, and to make us really choose what we believe and value.

Now... on to the real point.

If someone had asked me 2 years ago what my "System of Values" was in the context of this blog, I would have responded very similarly to the systems listed above... God, Family, Etc.

Suddenly I am making Value Based Decisions on a whole slew of other criteria that I had never previously considered:

God vs. Church vs. Faith vs. Jesus Christ
My Family (wife & kids) vs. My Family (mom & dad) vs. My Family (brothers & sisters)

Career (This is its own subcategory)
Stay with Construction vs. Start Something Else
Work for FREE to pay my Subs vs. Work to pay my bills and tell subs they are S.O.L.
Protect my own Credit Score vs. Protect my investors Credit Score vs. Who to protect

Surely along these same lines, many families are struggling with some of these same questions about what they truly value:

Eating Out vs. Paying the Mortgage vs. Buying Christmas Presents for Kids

What has been remarkable about this whole experience is that I observe different people literally value things differently. I literally know people who continue to "Eat Out" instead of "Paying the Mortgage" and let their house go... and who am I to say they are wrong.

The truth is that for some, if they owe a lot more on their home than what it will be worth in the next 3 to 5 years, and they were stretching to pay the mortgage anyway, they may value peace of mind more than having good credit and just let the house go and then eat out to celebrate finally being free from that millstone of a mortgage around their neck!

Others place such tremendous value on their credit score that they will tap into savings accounts, incur tax penalties by cashing in their 401 K, and paying, paying, paying. For some these decisions may be born of a desire to do what is right, and others literally just love having an excellent credit score.

For me today's blog is not a soapbox.

I don't claim to have a clue about the individual circumstances or value systems of all of the people I deal with... and have found that questioning the value system, integrity or behavior of someone else is unproductive for me... but rather choose to hope that if I were in their shoes I'd do as well as they do.

What I have done to find peace instead is to focus on what I control - my own System of Values...

I had a terrific conversation yesterday with Bryce. This guy is a pillar in the community and a terrific influence on everybody he knows. How fortunate I am to have so many people in my life of such integrity and character. Bryce has been an important sounding board as I have been dealing with some challenging complexities surrounding a deal with a dozen people involved.

He observed related to this deal that if any one of the people in the deal were sitting in the other persons exact position & circumstances, we would likely react almost the exact same way.

It is all good food for thought, and for getting my own Value System a fine tuning.

In the end, whether you believe in God or not, whether you have children and a wife or not, whether you love your friends or are a bit of a lone wolf, or whether you love your career, or just want to make a living so you can live your life, the old value system of 1. God/Church; 2. Family; 3. Career; 4. Friends has to become bigger, better at affecting your behavior... maybe something like this:

1. Do what is right, not what is easy.
2. Do unto others as I hope to have done unto me.
3. Work as hard and as intelligently as I can everyday to provide for my family.
4. Spend as much time as I can with the people I love, doing the things I love.

For anyone who would disagree with leaving God off the list (LOL) I think if I could pull those four things off, he'd be just fine being left off. (For me - he is in #2 and in #4)

What is YOUR Value System?


Announcing 2 New Projects and a Call For HELP Pulling Them Off.

So the other day I sat down with a man named Steve. We met to discuss (among other things) what his resources were, and how he could best use them to accomplish his goals of Financial Freedom.

Keep in mind, my shtick up to now has been either to do Real Estate deals while recruiting Private Equity from those who already have it, OR build a company using exponential duplication to amass time leverage FOR MYSELF.

TRANSLATION: 1. Get my money and other peoples money working for me. 2. Get my time and other peoples time working for me.

As I met with Steve, he spoke about the different avenues he and his wife have explored in years past to improve their life. He explained about the start up and shut down of several businesses and efforts to become free. He expressed frustration at efforts that had yielded undesirable results despite what he felt was a disciplined and consistent effort.

Specifically, Steve described what I understood to be a sort of longing for help... real help in getting both his time and his money under control.

Interestingly, this conversation was not unlike dozens of conversations like this one that I have had in recent months, and probably a hundred or more conversations in recent years... and in several of the conversations, I was the one interviewing those that have more of what I wanted, and searching for knowledge, tools or a system to assist in solving the problem.

As I spoke with Steve, a decision became clearer in my mind to take action in response to his request, and the search of so many others.

I decided that I would start a group, and simultaneously a blog dedicated to teaching principles of Financial Freedom, and other principles critical to individuals success.

The second part of my decision was as simple as the first... if someone is to get a handle on the money stuff... they are going to have to get a handle on a few other things too... including a commitment to live life, contribute to the world, and striving to BE better and make others around them better... so I decided to start another group called America Remix.

So... after a day or so of fiddling around with names for my projects, I landed on AmericaRemix.blogspot.com for the group and the bigger movement. For the project with the exclusively Financial Focus, I picked Not on Trees - Where & How Money Grows. To visit, go to NotOnTrees.Blogspot.com.

I am thrilled and excited to have put in motion projects that I have wanted to begin for a long time... and can think of no better time than now to begin.

As you can imagine I'll certainly need all the help I can get to make both of these projects as valuable as I hope and believe they will become, so PLEASE Contact Me and discuss both of these ideas and how we can work on them together, and stay tuned for more information.


The Sword in the Stone

Allow me to indulge in the telling of a personal story:

The Christmas of my eleventh year my parents bought a van for Christmas (burgundy Ford Econoline with grey velvet seats). As we woke up that morning, they announced Santa had bought us tickets to Disneyland, and off we went... what a great Christmas!

One of those magical days at Disneyland we came upon a large crowd of people and watched as men went through the crowd selecting several strong-looking grown men and leading them up to Merlin the Magician. Each man from the crowd would then attempt to pull King Arthur's Sword from the Stone. (It was an awesome sight for an eleven year old to see!)

After 5 or 6 men had tried and failed to pull out the sword, Merlin announced to the crowd that he knew that it could be pulled out, and that he could sense that somewhere in the crowd was a person worthy to pull the Sword from the Stone. Then Merlin began making his way back and forth through the crowd, pausing in front of different people and looking them in the eye before moving on. To my surprise, the long haired, long bearded Merlin I was watching so intently suddenly stopped when he got to me.

He put his hand on my head and pinched my cheeks, ran his hands through my hair and looked me up and down in a full examination as if to question if I was really the one, and then just as suddenly took me by the hand and pulled me behind him up to the Stone.

I can still picture his face and that long hair. I can still see those round spectacles and picture the crowd looking at me. I can remember them telling me to try to pull that sword out of the stone, and not even knowing what to do... until I finally got it. I was scared, and in shock, and I remember thinking there was no way I could pull that sword out. All those men couldn't even do it.

I can actually remember stepping up and pulling... the sword not moving at first, and then watching as I pulled that Sword out of the Stone! I remember the crowd cheering, and me not even hearing them, or believing my eyes as I looked at the Sword. How did I do that? (I don't think I actually even got it all the way out... it was too long - so they helped me after I pulled it most the way out - and then let me hold it.)

Then it gets fuzzy... but it was incredible. They put a robe on my shoulders and paraded me around... even took the sword and knighted me in front of everyone! I still was just in shock that I had pulled it out.

I am so thankful for that beautiful memory. It is one I will never forget. Thanks Mom & Dad, for taking me to Disneyland! In a way... making kids feel special is what Disneyland - and parents are supposed to do, right?

I still hope I am special - although sometimes I have my doubts. We are all special - and YOU and I can get whatever we want out of life...

I have decided no matter what - I am taking my kids to Disneyland this year.