Category Archives: Causes and Friends

Posts regarding causes–mine and those of some friends.

Avast ye, Matey!

teacher_colaberation_pc_400_clr_3388Okay, so I’m not especially good at “pirate talk.” (“Avast” means “get a load of this!”)

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a new page on the site called “PCSS Pirate Specials.” The page is designed to give you a cursory glance at what is truly an awesome program. If you’re ready to just jump right into some specifics, read on!

The program is actually underway and the second series starts Oct. 15th. One of the sessions is Career Exploration for sophomores. There are currently 19 students enrolled.

What’s needed right now are “guest speakers.” I put that in quotes because you don’t have to be a polished presenter. You just have to be willing to talk with these kids. (You are paired with teacher.)

The program is designed to get these kids thinking about their future careers/aspirations so they can plan more appropriately when they sign up for classes in high school. You get to talk with the kids for about a half hour on topics like what you studied in high school that helped prepare you, the kinds of summer work you looked for, what you wish you had done differently in high school to get better prepared,  and the kinds of decisions you had to make about schooling after high school.

As long as it’s legal, any career or job is fair game. What’s it like to be a carpenter? Is there a future in banking? Have you started your own business? Do you work in the woods?

I’m sure you can talk about it for thirty minutes. I’m even more sure the kids will have some questions for you and I can guarantee you’ll enjoy it and feel good after! Teaching skills aren’t required. A little sense of adventure would perhaps help, but mostly you just need to be willing to share your experience with some kids. When you’re ready to invest a half hour in some kids call or email MSAD 4 Curriculum Director Elaine Bartley at or call 876-4378 to see what times are available. Most of the slots are around lunch time so you can do it during your break! I can certainly nag, encourage, and beg. Just let me know what it takes to get you involved!

“We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.”

– Stacia Tauscher

I want fries with that!

StorefrontFriend and colleague Jack Falvey is now writing daily investment tips*—I’ve mentioned that before. In today’s he describes briefly the McDonald’s success story. One sentence jumped right off the page for me. “Hunger to succeed is the kind of hunger McDonald’s satisfies.” Jack was not only talking about investor success, he went on to note, “…without federal or state funds, the most successful youth training program on earth is teaching adolescents to show up on time, wash their hands, smile, make a neat appearance, and to ask with great expectation, ‘Do you want fries with that?’”

Where Jack wrote “hunger,” I saw “passion.”

Earlier this morning another colleague and I had a short but interesting conversation about an upcoming event designed to “raise awareness” of one of the many issues our society suffers. I confessed that I’m tired of programs for causes that are focused on “raising awareness.” Too often there’s little hunger and there’s no real passion. As a result we engage in activities that allow us to feel better but accomplish very little. It’s like feeling a little bit hungry and nibbling on a cracker. Or a small order of fries.

Just tell me when do we go from being “mildly interested” and aware to being passionate? Do we truly believe putting a bumper sticker on our vehicle is going make a difference? Help me understand how changing my status on Facebook for an hour is going to help.

During my years of consulting, I was never hired by an organization to “raise awareness.” In fact, those companies were usually painfully aware—perhaps not always of the root problem, but they knew there was one. I recall one organization that was having trouble “getting people to come to work.” Absenteeism and turnover was so high entire lines could not be started in the morning.

I can assure you, I did not recommend a program to increase awareness of the problem. We did not print bumper stickers for supervisors and company vehicles saying “Help stamp out absenteeism.” It took real passion and effort and sometimes drastic measures.

See, if you’re only a little bit hungry, it doesn’t take much to satisfy that hunger. A cracker might do it.

The McDonald’s story Jack tells includes some dismal failures in the early days of the company. Jack makes it fairly easy to see that success only came after a husband and wife put their last dollar into their store. “They invested their lives.”

I would say they were pretty hungry. So hungry they didn’t peruse cookbooks or debate where to eat or change their Facebook status to “I’m a little hungry.” They literally had to eat now. It became an obsession. There was no other option.

All of this reminded me that today I’ve been nibbling around the edges of the cracker. Maybe if I stopped nibbling I’d get hungry enough to remember what I’m passionate about until I feel the pangs of hunger that drive me incessantly and almost insanely to eat a big meal—to dine on the sweet success of achieving some things I care deeply about.

And not only do I want a big meal, I also want fries with it. When we care enough to want it all we know we have to go beyond raising awareness to making something happen.

*Investor Education Briefs is an online investor education program provided by the Institute for Politics at Saint Anselm College. It goes out each business day of the year at no charge. The editorial opinions of Jack Falvey, a Fellow of the Institute and a frequent contributor to The Wall Street Journal and Barron’s, are provided for investor education only and are not offered as financial advice. Anyone may enter or exit the program at any time. There are no tests or academic credits involved. It is designed as a modified massive online open program which will recycle and be updated every twelve months.

It’s Only Fair…

Skowhegan 4HOne of my summer diversions is taking in some fairs here and there. My digestion usually suffers a bit. (Why is it that agricultural fairs with displays of award-winning produce only serve stuff that’s supposed to be bad for you?) My boots take a beating and often come home with bits of agricultural residue which Harley Dog finds extremely interesting. Occasionally my back gets a little stiff from sitting on bleachers watching ox and horse pulls. But the rest of me enjoys it and finds the celebratory nature of fairs exciting. I’m hoping I’m not done yet for the year, but I do have to share a couple of things that I’d like to celebrate.

First, if you’ve not ever visited the 4H exhibits at the Skowhegan Fair, you’re missing a treat. You’ll be greeted by a couple of young people who are extremely pleasant and have a vocabulary that consists of more than the monosyllabic language most often used by adolescents. You’ll find the various exhibits reflect club pride, teamwork, and very often a high level of creativity. I found one individual example this year that gets “Mr. Boomsma’s unofficial blue ribbon.” A simple paper plate bearing a message to the judges. “My Dad found my sample cupcakes and ate them all. He said they were very good.” I gather the judges couldn’t accept Dad’s testimonial because there was no ribbon attached, but I accept this young lady’s ability to come up with a rather unique fair exhibit.

Another highlight of fair visits for this year took place at the Piscataquis Valley Fair when a brother and sister I happen to know from school spotted and dragged me to the 4H area to show me their projects. (Admittedly I didn’t resist too hard.) The older brother revealed his hobby of metal detecting and asked me to check out some of his finds. He also pointed to several pictures and told me a story.

Using his metal detector he found a high school class ring–dated ten years ago. Using his detective skills he researched and located the ring’s original owner. In one of the pictures she is clearly crying while he is looking up at her. At this stage of the story another fairgoer who’d been eavesdropping on the story asked my friend–almost accusingly, “You mean you didn’t get a cash reward?!”

Fortunately, I didn’t have time to seriously consider punching the guy. Without pause, my young friend responded eagerly, “Oh no, mister–seeing that woman’s smile was my reward!”

The only thing I can add to this story is two words. “There’s hope.” (If I had a blue ribbon I’d offer it to him, but he’d probably refuse it and say again, “Seeing that woman’s smile is my reward.”

Yeah. There’s hope.

Financial Literacy Starts With You!

stick_figure_wheel_barrow_gold_150_clr_8612And maybe Jack Falvey. Jack’s a friend and colleague–you might recognize his name from the back cover of my book, Small People–Big Brains. An official version of who Jack is reads like this:

Jack Falvey is a widely published freelance business writer, contributing to Barron’s, The Wall Street Journal, and The New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News in the areas of sales, sales management and marketing. He teaches professional sales and sales management at both University of Massachusetts Boston and at his alma mater, Boston College.

Falvey is currently a fellow at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics & Political Library at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire where he offers daily Investor Education Briefs as part of the Ethics in Governance: Stewardship and Investor Education Initiative.

Jack’s recently embarked on this daily series of Investor Education Briefs (or tips) and I’ve had the good fortune to be part of a “test group.” That means I’ve been enjoying these daily briefs for a few weeks now, so I can tell you that they are truly brief, educational, and enjoyable. One of my personal favorites was his message to people who say “I don’t believe in life insurance.” Jack notes that life insurance isn’t a religion. It’s a product with a purpose. In some circumstances it works. In others it doesn’t.

He’ll make you think.

It might seem ironic, but these nuggets that will increase your financial fluency are free! You can sign up at

Supporting a Good Friend and a Good Cause!

shrinerI’m pleased to be considered a sponsor of good cause (Springfield Massachusetts Shriners Hospital) being organized by a good friend (Susan Austin). Susan and her committee are organizing a “Trivia Night” to be held on Saturday, September 14, 6:30 pm – 10:30 pm at the Son’s of Erin at 22 Williams Street in Westfield, Massachusetts. My role and sponsorship feels pretty minimal, so I thought I’d help by giving Sue and her efforts some publicity.

If you’re from that area, you might put the event on your calendar and plan to attend… if not, you can still help. The committee has pledged that 100% of the proceeds will benefit Shriners Hospital. You can send a donation to

Susan Austin
148 Elm Street
Westfield MA 01085

Make the check payable to Springfield Shriners Hospital. I suspect it’s also not too late to be a sponsor. In additional to financial support they are looking for raffle prizes. If you’d like to help, call Sue at 413-537-5480 and tell her Mr. Boomsma sent you. (But don’t believe any stories she tells you about me when we were kids!)