To The Pointwith Boris Bozic
Commentary, Opinions, Thoughts and Discussion on Current Events, Politics and The Mortgage Industry

2 Comments Honouring A Canadian Hero

Article written by on the 30 Oct 2012 in Canada

Even if it took an American movie production company, as well as actor/producer Ben Affleck, to remind us of Ken Taylor’s heroism then so be it. For those of you under the age of 35, Ken Taylor was a true hero. He never played in the NHL nor was a hip-hop artist. Ken Taylor was the Canadian Ambassador to Iran, and I was reminded of his bravery and courage while watching the movie Argo over the weekend. The movie is about six American diplomats who escaped from Iran during the American Embassy hostage crisis in 1979. For those of you old enough to remember the eyes of the world were focused on the crisis and everyone was stunned at the audacity that a super power embassy would be invaded. At the beginning of the crisis Canadian’s, along with the rest of the world, watched the events unfold, but the rest of the world would learn about a Canadian’s bravery and what it means to be an ally.

The Ken Taylor story is an extraordinary one. The movie Argo gives only glimpses of the role Ken Taylor played during the whole ordeal. It’s an American movie; therefore, the Americans have to be the heroes of the movie. No doubt that the CIA came up with an ingenious plot to get the six Americans diplomats out of Iran, and the story behind it was declassified in 1997, by the then President Bill Clinton. In the event you’re not familiar with the story, I won’t give it away, but it is right up there with anything that Clancy, Flynn or Ludlum could come up when writing a novel. Maybe not Ludlum because he’s been dead since 2001, and all his books released after 2001 have been written by ghost writers, most people don’t know that. I digress, no doubt the movie embellished certain aspects of the story for theatrical purposes but that’s Hollywood. Affleck’s movie had no choice but to highlight Ken Taylor and Canada’s willingness to support an ally. If the Iranian authorities had found out that Ken Taylor had supported the CIA efforts, the consequences would have been dire and a good chance those six American Diplomats would be dead today.

The only annoying part of the movie was right at the end of the credits. There was a voice over from Jimmy Carter, the President during the hostage crisis. He stated he really should get the credit but the real story could not be told so the Canadians had to get the credit. I understand Carter wanting to shape the narrative as it relates to his Presidency. His Presidency can be best described as an abject failure, and anything he can say to change historical perceptions works to his benefit. The real political hero here was former Canadian Prime Minister, Joe Clark. I had the pleasure of speaking to the former Prime Minister prior to last year’s CAAMP Mortgage Forum; what a humble and respectful man he his. Unlike Carter, Joe Clark never hungered for glory or credit for his role in getting the six American diplomats out of Iran. He did his job as a leader, and given that Canada has also declassified what happened he should be acknowledged for his courage. In a strange twist of fate the Iranian hostage crisis cost Carter his Presidency and indirectly led to the downfall of the Clark government. That in itself is a very interesting story.

Our role in the escape was a proud Canadian moment.  If you’re looking for something to do with yourself on a Saturday night, because hockey players and owners can’t figure out a way to divvy up $3.3 billion in revenue, you may want to take in the movie Argo.  For those of us old enough to remember, it’s a good reminder.  For those too young to really know, you’ll learn something while being entertained

 

 

Until next time,

Cheers.

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1 Comments BOC Leaves Target Rate “As Is”

Article written by on the 23 Oct 2012 in Interest Rates,Mortgage

You’ve heard it all before, Europe bad, China slowing and US crawling along.  With respect to Canada’s economy, the BOC is projecting a 2.1 percent growth this year, 2.3 percent next year a 2.4 per cent in 2014.

As a surprise to absolutely no one the Bank of Canada left the benchmark interest rate at 1% for the 25th consecutive month.  Furthermore, BOC’s economic outlook for the next few years remains unchanged.  In other words not much has changed since the last announcement from the Bank of Canada.  Maybe there should only be announcement when there’s actually something to announce.  Given the repetitiveness of the announcements everyone is looking at language subtly for an indication that something might be different.  There was a twist or something new in this announcement in that the central bank will consider the state of household finances before increasing the target rate.

That’s interesting because the BOC expressed, yet again, their concern it has over household debt.  So if Canadians do not curb their insatiable appetite for debt (let’s be clear the debt refers to mortgages) the BOC may increase rates to curtail the said behaviour.  Is this simply a threat, and why now?  I think it’s rather apparent that market has slowed since the last changes to the mortgage rules in July, so was another shot across the bow necessary?  The answer appears to be yes.  The BOC also made it very clear that no cut to interest rates were being considered at this time.  There are things in life that don’t have to be said, and now “changes in BOC benchmark interest rates” falls into that category.

The BOC’s forecast for the Canadian and global economy is fairly consistent with their last statement.  You’ve heard it all before, Europe bad, China slowing and US crawling along.  With respect to Canada’s economy, the BOC is projecting a 2.1 percent growth this year, 2.3 percent next year a 2.4 per cent in 2014.  In other words no one should be planning a parade over the growth of our economy.  The BOC did indicate that “over time, some modest withdrawal of monetary policy stimulus will likely be required, consistent with achieving the 2 per cent inflation target.”  What monetary policy stimulus might be withdrawn?  It’s a cliffhanger, not as big as “who shot JR?” but a cliffhanger nevertheless (Those under 30 years of age, Google who’s JR Ewing).

 

The BOC announcement reminds me of what baseball legend Jogi Berra once said, “it’s like déjà vu all over again”.  A blog that I posted not long ago, Bank of Canada Still Locked With the US Fed, I opined that if you want to know what’s going to happen with our rates you don’t have to look any further than what the US Fed is doing. 

The reverberations of QE3 will be felt here in Canada.  Bernanke has stated that the Fed is committed to leaving its target interest rate close to zero until 2015.  A few short months ago the prediction for a rate increase was 2014.  Clearly the Fed believes interest rates are too high in the US to encourage investment and mortgage borrowing.  I am not sure how enamored the Bank of Canada is with this decision.  Up until now the Bank of Canada has been in lock step with the US Fed.  Will they deviate from that?  I highly doubt it.  So, an overnight lending rate increase may have been pushed out for another 12 months in Canada.  That’s good news for consumers, especially for borrowers renewing their mortgages over the next 24 months.  The not so good news is that if you’re a first time home buyer, don’t expect the government to reverse the most recent changes to mortgage rules anytime soon”.

God, I hate being right.

Until next time,

Cheers.

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0 Comments The Foundation of a Business

Article written by on the 18 Oct 2012 in Merix Financial

“We would never sacrifice our efforts to win the hearts and minds of our customers just to end up being average, from a market share perspective.  Volumes alone does not create business depth.

Plenty of ‘how-to’ books have been written on building a sound business.  Plenty more will be written in the future given the old economy is being replaced by the new economy, the digital revolution.  A common principal, profitability, is obviously critical to any organizations success.  If profit is the key principal in building an organizations culture, that organization will not create any depth.  Furthermore, customers will see through it and they may come to the conclusion that your business is not authentic.  The mindset of the consumer is different today.  Consumers today want to do business with companies they view as being authentic; customers do not want to be simply viewed as means to an end.

The challenge for every business today is to make the enterprise economically relevant, while at the same time focusing on the visceral aspects of the customer experience.  If you can build a business where customers want to do business with you because they of the belief they come first, you’re building a business with depth.  With that in mind everyone at MERIX Financial is extremely proud of the fact that we were voted the number one lender in the most recent CMP Broker on Lender Survey. Eight medals in total, four of which were gold, speaks to our authenticity.  MERIX Financial wears its heart on its sleeve.  The underlying principal of MERIX Financial is to create future wealth for its customers, the mortgage broker.  We passionately believe in the trailer fee model because of the benefit it brings to our customers.  Some may dismiss the value of our model but I don’t think anyone can question our commitment and sincere belief in the trailer fee model; that is what resonates with our supporters.  What is also appreciated is our candor and honesty.  If it’s our bad we admit it and try to fix it.  We received a silver medal approval/turnaround time, a gold medal in underwriter support, a gold medal in overall service levels.   In a utopian world it would always be like this but we do business in the real world.  We had to face our shortcomings, listen to feedback from our customers and dedicate ourselves to improvement.  Our partners at Paradigm Quest have done a remarkable job to support our efforts and our customers made note of our improvements and acknowledged our efforts by making us number one.

For those who know me (and have actually spoken to me) know that if asked a question, I will provide an honest answer; as I believe the worst thing you can do is insult your customers intelligence by being disingenuous.  Diplomacy counts but honesty denotes authenticity.  So if you’re wondering if I would trade all eight medals for another $2 billion in funding?  The answer is no.  Why should volumes and authenticity be mutually exclusive?  If we could magically fund another $2 billion our goal would not change – being rated the number one lender.  The reality is that another $2 billion in funding would put us in the middle of the pack.  We would never sacrifice our efforts to win the hearts and minds of our customers just to end up being average from a market share perspective.  Volumes alone does not create business depth.

To all of our supporters who took the time to acknowledge  our efforts by casting a vote for MERIX,  thank you so very much.  There may be a time in the future when we may not meet your expectations.  That’s the human nature of business but as we’ve demonstrated since inception we will not rest until we fix whatever problem may exist.  We may not always get it right but that will never stop us from trying.

 Until next time,

 Cheers.

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0 Comments Tip your Hat to Dalton McGuinty

Article written by on the 16 Oct 2012 in Canada

mcguinty-leaves-liberalOntario, Yours to Discover ….A catchy phrase on all Ontario licensee plates but if the whispers are correct the rest of Canada may discover what Ontario style politics is all about. By now you may have heard that the Premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty, tendered his resignation. According to Daddy Dalton, “After 16 years as leader of the Ontario Liberal Party, and after nine years as premier, it’s time for renewal. It’s time for the next Liberal premier, it’s time for the next set of Liberal ideas to guide our province forward”.

The resignation comes as a surprise and it’s especially intriguing given the Premiers ability to brush aside scandal after scandal, most recently the ambulance service and he’s also facing a second contempt motion for canceling two gas plants in Mississauga and Oakville at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars to taxpayers. Tax dollars flushed away has never bothered the Teflon Premier before so why now? Can it be because he and his party were responsible for record deficits in Ontario? No, that can’t be it. If you can get re-elected three times promising not to raise taxes and you raise them anyway, what’s to fear?

The answer appears to be nothing. It’s being reported McGuinty is planning to throw his hat into the ring for the leadership of the Federal Liberal Party. The Federal Liberals have been looking for an answer to the well oiled Conservative machine. The Conservatives and Liberals know when it comes to Ontario, also comes a majority government. Justin Trudeau may have celebrity status but is that enough to convince the voters of Ontario? Clearly McGuinty’s inner circle doesn’t believe so.

McGuinty is a savvy and shrewd politician. As much as I think the rest of Canada would reject his record, I thought Ontario voters would see the same light.  You have to tip your hat to him. Not for his record but for his ability to survive and overcoming what most politicians would view as insurmountable odds. His act may be coming to the national stage, and as voters in Ontario have learned, his “ah shucks – golly gee act” can be rather effective.

Until next time,

Cheers.

Related Posts:

Ontario Tax Payers Beware

Federal Budget – A penny for your thoughts

Political Uncertainty in Ontario

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0 Comments Leadership has Many Characteristics

Article written by on the 12 Oct 2012 in Current Events

How would you react?  You come to work in the morning and you notice that there is an email in your inbox from your CEO. Your initial reaction would probably be that the email is nothing more than some rah-rah correspondence, quarterly earning, aren’t we just great etc. But when you open the email you say to yourself, “whoa”.

I suspect this is the initial reaction for the 7000 employees employed at Westgate Resorts, after reading the email their CEO David Siegel sent to them. The email is getting a lot of play in the news for it’s boldness and political overtones. The email was a heartfelt message from the CEO; he said if you chose to vote for President Obama, and he’s reelected, I will be left with no choice but to cut staff. I’m paraphrasing but that’s the part of the email the media is focusing on. So how would you respond if received such an email from your CEO? Incredulous, furious, abuse of authority? My initial reaction was, “there’s got be more to this”. I believed that because I could never see myself writing such an email, attempting to directly influence how our staff should vote in a federal election. On the surface it is beyond comprehension but as is usually the case you shouldn’t pass judgement until you have all the facts. I read Mr. Siegel’s entire email and I was struck by his candor and honesty. He wrote about the sacrifices and challenges he’s faced building his company. He spoke about the dire economic straights his country faces and if things continue the way they are, and he’s forced to pay even more in taxes, it will have consequences for the entire company. He even referenced the fact that construction on his ninety thousand square foot home, that’s not a typo, had to be put on hold since the recession. I did say this was an honest and heartfelt email.

We can debate the right and wrong of the email. But after reading the entire email, the full text is below, you can’t debate the man’s courage. He had to know that some employee would forward the email to the media, and the heat would come because of it. I don’t believe this is case of, “I don’t care what you say about me just spell my name right”. I suspect Mr. Siegel’s ego is satisfied through other means. So why did he do it? There’s no doubt he loves his company, and by all appearances his country as well. It’s also clear that he’s tired of being demonized just because he’s successful. Leadership has many characteristics, courage of you convictions being one of them.

Until next time

Cheers.

 

 

Subject: Message from David Siegel

Date:Mon, 08 Oct 2012 13:58:05 -0400 (EDT)

From: [David Siegel]

To: [All employees]

To All My Valued Employees,

As most of you know our company, Westgate Resorts, has continued to succeed in spite of a very dismal economy. There is no question that the economy has changed for the worse and we have not seen any improvement over the past four years. In spite of all of the challenges we have faced, the good news is this: The economy doesn’t currently pose a threat to your job. What does threaten your job however, is another 4 years of the same Presidential administration. Of course, as your employer, I can’t tell you whom to vote for, and I certainly wouldn’t interfere with your right to vote for whomever you choose. In fact, I encourage you to vote for whomever you think will serve your interests the best.

However, let me share a few facts that might help you decide what is in your best interest.The current administration and members of the press have perpetuated an environment that casts employers against employees. They want you to believe that we live in a class system where the rich get richer, the poor get poorer. They label us the “1%” and imply that we are somehow immune to the challenges that face our country. This could not be further from the truth. Sure, you may have heard about the big home that I’m building. I’m sure many people think that I live a privileged life. However, what you don’t see or hear is the true story behind any success that I have achieved.

I started this company over 42 years ago. At that time, I lived in a very modest home. I converted my garage into an office so I could put forth 100% effort into building a company, which by the way, would eventually employ you. We didn’t eat in fancy restaurants or take expensive vacations because every dollar I made went back into this company. I drove an old used car, and often times, I stayed home on weekends, while my friends went out drinking and partying. In fact, I was married to my business — hard work, discipline, and sacrifice. Meanwhile, many of my friends got regular jobs. They worked 40 hours a week and made a nice income, and they spent every dime they earned. They drove flashy cars and lived in expensive homes and wore fancy designer clothes. My friends refinanced their mortgages and lived a life of luxury. I, however, did not. I put my time, my money, and my life into this business —-with a vision that eventually, some day, I too, will be able to afford to buy whatever I wanted. Even to this day, every dime I earn goes back into this company. Over the past four years I have had to stop building my dream house, cut back on all of my expenses, and take my kids out of private schools simply to keep this company strong and to keep you employed.

Just think about this – most of you arrive at work in the morning and leave that afternoon and the rest of your time is yours to do as you please. But not me- there is no “off” button for me. When you leave the office, you are done and you have a weekend all to yourself. I unfortunately do not have that freedom. I eat, live, and breathe this company every minute of the day, every day of the week. There is no rest. There is no weekend. There is no happy hour. I know many of you work hard and do a great job, but I’m the one who has to sign every check, pay every expense, and make sure that this company continues to succeed. Unfortunately, what most people see is the nice house and the lavish lifestyle. What the press certainly does not want you to see, is the true story of the hard work and sacrifices I’ve made.

Now, the economy is falling apart and people like me who made all the right decisions and invested in themselves are being forced to bail out all the people who didn’t. The people that overspent their paychecks suddenly feel entitled to the same luxuries that I earned and sacrificed 42 years of my life for. Yes, business ownership has its benefits, but the price I’ve paid is steep and not without wounds. Unfortunately, the costs of running a business have gotten out of control, and let me tell you why: We are being taxed to death and the government thinks we don’t pay enough. We pay state taxes, federal taxes, property taxes, sales and use taxes, payroll taxes, workers compensation taxes and unemployment taxes. I even have to hire an entire department to manage all these taxes. The question I have is this: Who is really stimulating the economy? Is it the Government that wants to take money from those who have earned it and give it to those who have not, or is it people like me who built a company out of his garage and directly employs over 7000 people and hosts over 3 million people per year with a great vacation?

Obviously, our present government believes that taking my money is the right economic stimulus for this country. The fact is, if I deducted 50% of your paycheck you’d quit and you wouldn’t work here. I mean, why should you? Who wants to get rewarded only 50% of their hard work? Well, that’s what happens to me.

Here is what most people don’t understand and the press and our Government has chosen to ignore – to stimulate the economy you need to stimulate what runs the economy. Instead of raising my taxes and depositing that money into the Washington black-hole, let me spend it on growing the company, hire more employees, and generate substantial economic growth. My employees will enjoy the wealth of that tax cut in the form of promotions and better salaries. But that is not what our current Government wants you to believe. They want you to believe that it somehow makes sense to take more from those who create wealth and give it to those who do not, and somehow our economy will improve. They don’t want you to know that the “1%”, as they like to label us, pay more than 31% of all the taxes in this country. Thomas Jefferson, the author of our great Constitution, once said, “democracy” will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.”

Business is at the heart of America and always has been. To restart it, you must stimulate business, not kill it. However, the power brokers in Washington believe redistributing wealth is the essential driver of the American economic engine. Nothing could be further from the truth and this is the type of change they want.

So where am I going with all this? It’s quite simple. If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, as our current President plans, I will have no choice but to reduce the size of this company. Rather than grow this company I will be forced to cut back. This means fewer jobs, less benefits and certainly less opportunity for everyone.

So, when you make your decision to vote, ask yourself, which candidate understands the economics of business ownership and who doesn’t? Whose policies will endanger your job?

Answer those questions and you should know who might be the one capable of protecting and saving your job. While the media wants to tell you to believe the “1 percenters” are bad, I’m telling you they are not. They create most of the jobs. If you lose your job, it won’t be at the hands of the “1%”; it will be at the hands of a political hurricane that swept through this country.

You see, I can no longer support a system that penalizes the productive and gives to the unproductive. My motivation to work and to provide jobs will be destroyed, and with it, so will your opportunities. If that happens, you can find me in the Caribbean sitting on the beach, under a palm tree, retired, and with no employees to worry about.

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0 Comments Belated Happy Thanksgiving

Article written by on the 09 Oct 2012 in Personal

The Thanksgiving meal hasn’t been fully digested, when I decided to do a really dumb thing – I surfed the net to see what was happening in the world. In less than five minutes of reading I had a decision to make, curl up in the fetal position paralyzed with fear or stop reading? I went with door number two.

Dire predictions from the IMF about the global economy, specifically the slowdown in Asia, the debt situation in the U.S. and the European crisis, can wait. As can all the pundits in Canada who are suggesting that we’re on the precipitous of a housing crisis.
All this information can wait until Thanksgiving Day is clearly in the review mirror. Thanksgiving is a time to reflect and remind ourselves how fortunate we are. I’m so thankful for the loving family I have, the great industry I work in, and the job that I do every day. And I’m also really thankful that I live in a country where I have the right to say to all those who are predicting global, and specifically Canadian economic doom, SHUT THE HELL UP.  At the very least give us Thanksgiving Day. No, give us the day after as well. Ah, but I don’t trust you so I’m going to put you on ignore until Wednesday. At that point I will invite back into my life so that I am apprised of what’s going on, and that will also force me to take the time to decipher fact from fiction.  I, along with everyone in our industry is used to doing that.  But understand this, you will never beat me (or our industry) into submission and force us to say uncle. The mortgage industry and people who contribute to it are part of any solution, our value and contribution to the Canadian economy is well established.

A personal belated Happy Thanksgiving to all those who take the time to read my blog, for that I am truly humbled and thankful.

Until next time,

Cheers.

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0 Comments World Business Forum

Article written by on the 04 Oct 2012 in Business

“Knowledge is critical but its value is limited unless you’re prepared and committed to execution”

Irrespective of what you do professionally, being self-aware and enhancing your personal development is critical to growth and success. The day you put your personal development on hold is the day you decide to the let the competition pass you by. And it’s that fear of lagging behind the competition which motivates me to seek out knowledge and explore new possibilities… every once in a while some morsel of information actually sticks.

Attending the World Business Forum is almost an overload of information. And as someone who has listened to many speakers I have to say this event brings together some of the best thinkers and accomplished speakers to one program.

People like:

  • Jim Collins, author of Good to Great and a host of other books. His work is based on empirical data so there’s steak to go along with the sizzle.
  • Marcus Buckingham, who specializes in identifying employee’s strength and ways to harness that strength to maximize performance
  • Don Tapscott, author of Wikinomics; his specialty is identifying how technology affects marketing and innovation
  • Robert Gates, former Secretary of Defense. During his illustrious career he’s served at the pleasure of eight Presidents. He knows a thing or two about leadership and courage. He gave us some insight into the planning of the Bin Laden mission in Pakistan, and the courage it took for President Obama to give the go order.
  • Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN’s foreign affairs and guest writer for the Washington Post and Time magazine. Zakaria spoke to the global power shift and the geopolitical challenges we all we face.
  • Jack Welch, Richard Branson and a host of others. As I said, it was almost information overload but not in any negative way.

Many things to ponder about what I just learned over the last two days but I’ve been able to confirm two things. Firstly, being inspired is an important component of personal development. Secondly, knowledge is critical but its value is limited unless you’re prepared and committed to execution. How many times have you heard someone say about some service or product, “I thought of that a while ago”. Frankly, the honest response to that statement should be, “shame you did nothing about it”.

Until next time

Cheers

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0 Comments There’s Something Special About NYC

Article written by on the 02 Oct 2012 in US Politics

I have the distinct pleasure to be in New York City over the next couple of days to attend the World Business Forum.  For those of you who have been you know all about the cities vibrancy, pace, attitude and frenetic energy.  Walking the streets you can just feel it. You either keep up or you better step aside. There’s no middle ground when it comes to New York, people love it or hate it.  Put me down in the infatuation column.

New York always finds a way to make the headlines.  Most recently is was the squatters who protested on Wall Street.  Remember them?  They ended up being just another footnote in New York’s long history.  Ah, but today there’s even juicer headlines in the Big Apple.   New York Attorney General filed a lawsuit against J.P. Morgan Chase & Co on Monday for fraud over faulty mortgage-backed securities packaged and sold by the former Bear Stearns.  That’s right; they’re being sued for something allegedly done by Bear Stearns before J.P. Morgan Chase & Co was forced to buy them by the U.S. Government back in 2008.   It was the critical first days of the sub-prime mortgage meltdown and the heads of the major banks were summoned to Washington, and they were told in no uncertain terms by then Secretary of the Treasury,   Henry Paulson, that before anyone goes home deals would have to be cut to ensure banking stability.  That’s the Readers Digest version of how J.P. Morgan Chase & Co ended up buying Bear Stearns for $2 USD a share.  It appears now that they ended up buying a whole lot of headaches.  I’m sure the timing of this lawsuit is all coincidental and it has nothing to do with the upcoming U.S. Presidential election.  Sure, the sub-prime mortgage meltdown first came to light in 2008, and the first lawsuit just happened to be filed just prior to the election; a mere coincidence.  It took the Obama administration close to 4 years to create the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group to investigate the selling and pooling of risky mortgages.  Better late than never, I guess.  Does someone deserve to pay dearly and possibly go to jail for nearly bringing down the global economy? Damn right, and long overdue; but to do it now reeks of politics and not justice; coincidence? As a New Yorker all I want to say is, “coincidence this!”

Until next time,

Cheers.

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    "I work in a world of numbers, process, execution, risk mitigation and all kinds of other sexy stuff. To share my thoughts, opinions and personal tidbits does have some creative appeal for me. It will also push me to do something that I am not totally comfortable with, writing. Get me in front of a room full of people to do a presentation and I'm on. Writing a story that others may actually be interested in reading sounds like a challenge to me. The reality is that I enjoy a good challenge and if it ends up that mom is the only reader of my blog so be it."

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