Jul 112012

This morning, one of our neighbors dropped off a clipping about Harry Truman. We had been discussing presidents after my column mentioning FDR. The piece was complimentary and praised President Truman especially for his modesty and humility after retiring back to his home in Independence, Missouri.

I have to tell you that I have a soft spot for Harry and Bess. I was raised across the river from Independence in Liberty, Missouri. How about those city names for symbolism? (Then again Peculiar and Normal are city names in Missouri. Go figure.) Kansas City still embraces “Give ‘em Hell Harry” as a beloved native son.

Anyway, the clipping mentioned his few personal assets including Bess’ house, an Army pension, and a special allowance granted by Congress. He did not “enjoy” Secret Service protection after leaving the White House. Harry declined corporate positions saying, “You don’t want me. You want the office of the President, and that doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to the American people and it’s not for sale.” Of course, this would be a great place to take a pot shot at the corporate interests that seem intent on buying power and influence in our government, and putting one of their own where he can sign their regressive legislation into law,  but that would be out of place and beneath me, so I won’t mention it here.

In balance, the clipping seemed to be a nostalgia piece for simpler, kinder, and gentler times. I like the comfortable, warm memories of earlier days that it invoked. That was a time when people knew what to expect, every man stood on his own two feet and was often too proud to take charity and too quiet to talk about his service in the Great War. Except, it wasn’t exactly like that at all. World War II killed an estimated 50-70 million people – over 2.5% of the world’s population. About 416,800 US servicemen gave their lives. It was a dangerous, disruptive, and complicated time.

Our current president is getting a lot of flak for personally authorizing selective drone attacks on targeted individuals (and any anyone in a twenty-foot radius.) The United States fire-bombed entire cities during World War II and President Truman personally authorized nuclear weapons over two large cities. Our current president is getting a lot of flak for limited support of other economies. President Truman signed the Marshall Plan to help rebuild seventeen countries of Western and Southern Europe. Our current president is getting a lot of flak for getting a law passed letting our gay and lesbian sons and daughters serve in the military. President Truman signed an Executive Order forcibly integrating the armed forces, letting our black neighbors serve their country.

The fact is that we now live in especially complicated and difficult times. And, I for one, am proud to support our current president – a complex man of family and community, yet gifted with courage, intelligence, vision, and the capacity to inspire us to nurture the goodness that we all hold and the empathy to care about our neighbors.

© 2012, David Satterlee

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May 312012

Christianity started out as a very liberal way of life. Take a look at the things Jesus personally did and said. A red-letter version of the New Testament will help. I won’t cite chapter and verse, but if you’re up for this discussion, you will already feel right at home.

Above all, Jesus lived and taught love. He even made the blunt assertion that “God is Love.” Jesus pointed out that the greatest law was Love – of God and neighbor – and he used the parable of a good Samaritan to point out that everyone is our neighbor.

In contrast to the popular idea that “you are on your own,” a core liberal belief is that “we are all in this together.” That is, we are all neighbors and need to care about our common good at every level, not just our own family or religion.

While teaching personal responsibility, Jesus also taught us to not focus overmuch on individual liberties. He washed his disciples’ feet to set an example of submitting in service to others.

Jesus really came down hard on the Pharisees. These were the nation’s  religious and political leaders. Often the wealthiest, they created, enforced, and defended a system of traditions and laws that supported and sustained their own positions of privilege and power.

The Pharisees claimed the high ground of faith and values, but Jesus condemned them and called them hypocrites. Notably, he drove money changers, members of the privileged financial elites, out of the temple.

Jesus was tolerant of those in other social classes; He ate with tax collectors and sinners and he cared about the health and welfare of all. He gave his gifts freely to the poor and downhearted and he encouraged others to do so as well.

Finally, stop a moment to contemplate the fact that Jesus, along with folks such as Martin Luther. were the radical liberals of their time. They took issue with the existing systems of unfair power, privilege, and oppression. Without extending the point too far, they were, in fact, progressive community organizers.

©2012, David Satterlee

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May 312012

Our Democracy requires the participation of informed citizens. How do citizens become competent to become active in government, working to create a better country for their neighbors? Education at home and at school is a key factor.

A successful democracy assumes that people are basically good and decent should make responsible choices for themselves. Without the general moral and intellectual capacity of its citizens, it would be impossible for a constitution to grant universal citizenship and self-governance.

Parents and schools are expected to bring out the best in our children. The best involves more than prescribed knowledge and obedience to authority; it includes self-knowledge, self-discipline, and the enduring desire to keep on learning. We hope to maximize every child’s potential. We want every person to have the liberty and ability to pursue the adventure of a productive and satisfying life. Further, we expect that the success of every person contributes to the collective success of our communities and our nation.

As children develop into mature adults, they should be able to understand their beliefs, form personal opinions, explain themselves, consider the needs of others, and make decisions that produce good results. Especially today, when few find secure employment for life, we need to be able to think critically about new situations, solve new problems, and work successfully with previously-unknown people.

It is not enough for a student to simply acquire the skills of a trade. Graduates need to be equipped with an expanded perspective and the mental flexibility to make their way on the unfamiliar landscape of our rapidly-changing world. This kind of preparation allows them to recognize and take advantage of opportunities as they arise. Even better, this kind of preparation allows them to network socially, work well in a group, maintain supportive relationships, and actually create opportunities.

Critical thinking should not be the private tool of the privately-educated elite. Critical thinking should be one of our most cherished values, and the birthright of every child willing to apply themself. Critical thinking should be an expected product of a rich family life. Critical thinking should be the core competency delivered by our public schools.

Some may recoil from all this be-the-best-you-can-be and prepare-for-your-future effort. Some may be content to do what they’re told, do only what is needed to get by, and blame others for their misfortunes. Some may realize that I have been describing a “liberal education,” and correctly conclude that the more of it you have, the more liberal you will likely become. Maybe that’s a good thing.

How can our individual, community, and national well-being be bad? I am convinced that we must prepare our children to successfully resist those who would take away our government of, by, and for the people. If we do not, we will see the completion of the efforts of a powerful few to seize our government and use it to enrich themselves.

©2012, David Satterlee

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May 272011

A little boy threw something out the window of his school bus. The driver saw him and gave him a note to take home to be signed. This little guy is bright, full of life, and his eyes shine with hope, joy, and irrepressible potential. Why had he done this and what is to be done?

Coming in the door, our intrepid miscreant meets his waiting grandmother. I can imagine his apprehension and hesitation. He already knows he’s in some kind of trouble. Worse yet, Grandma is a retired elementary school teacher. Grasshopper stands nervously in front of Master. She sees instantly that something is amiss. Still, she doesn’t hesitate to reward his homecoming with her biggest smile and warmest hug.

“Can I go out and play with Bobby?”

“What are you holding?”

“A note.”

“Well, then I had better read it.”

The usual suspect reluctantly surrenders the charges against him to the officer of the court and examination begins.

“What did you throw out the window?”

“I don’t remember.”

“Uh huh. What did you throw out the window?”

“A piece of paper.”


“A boy told me too.”


“I don’t remember.”

“What did the bus driver say?”

“I don’t remember.”

Grandma is no fool. “Well then, I need you to sit on this chair and try to remember while I finish cooking supper.”

For our little boy, time passes like he were crossing a turbid stream. He cannot see his feet nor the uneven bottom of the stream bed where he must place them. Surging water constantly threatens his balance. He is alone; with no one to hold his hand. The far bank is in sight, but his immediate future is clearly at risk.

Granny loves him enough to let him suffer for a while. Eventually—no, actually at a thoughtfully chosen interval—Granny turns from her work and, offering a reassuring smile, resumes the interrogation. “What did the bus driver say?”

“He said, ‘That was stupid.'”

Granny’s diaphragm spasms and she barely suppresses the impulse to cackle hysterically. “Well, do you think it was stupid?”

“Yeah, I guess so.”

“You know you shouldn’t litter.” Grandma has made a misstep, but she doesn’t realize it yet. She had him on the defensive but has just appealed to the knowledge and rationality of a prepubescent child.

Seizing the opportunity to object, he asserts himself. “But I wasn’t littering.”

“You threw paper out the window.”

“But, littering is when you throw a can out the window.” A cunning twitch of satisfaction caresses his lips. But now he has made a misstep; forgetting that he is arguing against prosecutor, judge, and jury.

“Littering is when you throw anything on the ground.” Objection denied. There is no further response from the accused; he has no recourse but to throw himself upon the mercy of the court. The verdict is in and It is all over except for the defendant’s statement and the reading of the sentence.

“How do you feel about your littering?”

“It was wrong.”

“Should you do things just because another boy tells you to?”

His pupils dilate momentarily as he considers the potential loophole of being told to do something by a girl. Sanity returns. “No.”

“What should you have said to the boy that told you to do it?”

“I should have said, ‘I’m not stupid.'”

“Do you promise to not litter like that again?” “Like that,” she said. Grandma has deliberately given him some discretionary wiggle room. He understands that he just got a suspended sentence with probation. This will be a test of his character.

“Yes, I promise.” No hesitation. No caveats. Just so. Well done. She signs his note and hands it back. The trial is over and the jury is dismissed.

“Okay, then I guess you have about fifteen minutes to play with Bobby before coming in for supper.” He glances at his wristwatch. Granny knows that he will be back soonish. She bends down to give him a hug and kiss before he dashes off.

Hesitating, he looks back briefly and says “I love you.” They both know that his record has already been expunged.

Copyright 2011, David Satterlee

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0), which essentially says that you are free to share the work under the conditions that you attribute it fully, do not use it for commercial purposes, and do not alter it.

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Sep 262010

Self Improvement – Doing Business from Home

It just took over the house

In the Oct/Nov ’92 issue of Sunshine Horizons, Beverly Lewis tells about “one couple so committed to this business they’ve literally turned their entire house into a miniature university. As I walked through their kitchen during a visit one day, I saw a Nature’s Spring on the counter. The kitchen table was loaded with company products and literature. Each of the rooms was filled with educational books and other related paraphernalia. After touring their home and noticing no bedroom, I couldn’t help ask them where they sleep! Their level of enthusiasm amazes me, and it’s just one example. There are thousands of others.”

Each person must decide how they want to deal with this problem as it happens. You can set firm limits, throttle the business to keep it from growing further, move, build on to add room or open a store. Your choice should meet your needs for room, privacy, location and potential for further expansion.

“Blessed is he who has found his work. Let him ask no other blessing.”
-Thomas Carlyle

“Be careful what you ask for, you might get it.”
-Mr. Spock

There’s just nowhere to hide

Sometimes you just need to wash dishes or read a book. If your business is in your house, people will drop by at unpredictable times. When the business is small that might not be such a problem. In fact, being available to care and share at odd hours may be a service that distinguishes you from less-popular competitors.

Setting (and enforcing) business hours

One way to manage the demands on your time is to post the hours that you are open and then stick to them. It’s not always easy to be firm when a friend with a need (but poor planning skills) knows that you must be in there somewhere.

It’s usually not that bad. Most people will respect your need to have an orderly life with some time set aside for sleep or whimpering in a corner.

Less TV, more real life

Soap operas, reruns and especially the hot new shows can sap your time and attention. Sure, TV can be entertaining but building a new business can be a lot more fun. Instead of watching other people do things and listening to other people laugh, you can enjoy the real thing.

“This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.

“Television watching takes up more time than any other activity our society engages in.” -Scientific Australian

“The whole day stretches before us with unlimited opportunity! And what better way to appreciate that opportunity than by squandering it watching cartoons all day!”
-Calvin, Weirdos from Another Planet, Bill Watterson

Bottles behind the bushes

As much as you would like to spend all your time waiting for people to show up and pick up their products, there ARE some other things that need to be done from time to time.

I solved the problem by telling customers how much their check should be and then leaving their products, invoice and an envelope in a dry spot on the porch. They picked up their herbs, put the check in the envelope and shoved it through a crack in the garage door. It worked like a charm. One loyal customer is a real estate agent who can’t spare the time during the day and likes to drop by after 10:30 p.m. Bottles behind the bushes makes us both very happy; she gets her herbs and I get my sleep.

Don’t forget the family

Take time to be with your family. A new business can be demanding but it doesn’t deserve your total attention. You probably started the business to help your family with their health or finances. Trading your income for your time, attention and love makes a lousy exchange.

Be kind to your family. Don’t let your anxiety or frustrations with business matters splatter all over your spouse and children; you will need their support and good will at times like these.

When you set a goal, take the wishes and circumstances of your family into consideration. Don’t leave them behind. In fact it’s a good idea to involve your family in planning and decision making. They will often think of things that you would have overlooked. Their input can be invaluable.

Your family may even enjoy participating in the business. Because “opposites attract” it’s likely that your spouse has qualities that will complement yours. Split up the responsibilities in a way that makes the best use of your individual talents. Very few people have achieved business success without the support of their family.

When you outgrow the house

After a while, the business may be just too big to keep on running from the house. My sponsors kept on cannibalizing their home until they had to move out and buy the house next door to live in. I live in a sub-division with deed restrictions. Once I moved all the herbs to a store, I could finally relax about being turned in by neighbors. Actually, zoning ordinances can be a blessing in disguise. A past “Manager of the Year” team admits that they took a leap of faith and opened a store even though they weren’t ready to move financially. Once all their eggs were in one basket, they just had to succeed.

About the time you have developed 5-10 managers, you will be faced with a decision about your retail sales. Do you deliberately cut back and send people to your successline or do you make a separate place for the business? This is a very individual question and no other person’s decision will be exactly right for you. How does your approach to business fit with your house? Do you prefer giving home demonstrations? Do you need more privacy, more room or a better location? This is one of those major forks in the road. Meditate carefully on your choice; it can have permanent effects.

Copyright 1996, 2010, David Satterlee

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License, which essentially says that you are free to share the work under the conditions that you attribute it fully, do not use it for commercial purposes, and do not alter it.

Sep 222010

Family Relationships with a Small Business in the Home

Getting your husband’s respect and attention

A common problem for married women who start a network marketing business is an over-protective husband. The guy may really believe that his wife is getting burned by a get-rich-quick scheme or that herbalists are all dangerous quacks. Of course, a few cascara sagrada brownies will loosen him up and convince him of the power of herbs. But seriously ….

Larry was really skeptical when his wife Maureen got into direct sales. He says: “It’s a whole lot different than the typical direct sales company. The company is based on education and taking care of the people you sign up.” Maureen patiently won him over. Now he adds: “I’ve got a couple of Managers who didn’t get their husband’s attention until they got nice bonus checks.”

Once your husband notices how well you are doing, you’re all set for the next most common problem. He’ll want to dive in, take over and reorganize. Well, you wanted his respect and attention ….

“Many individuals have, like uncut diamonds, shining qualities beneath a rough exterior.”

Getting respect from family and friends

Strangers will take you at face value. They will judge you quickly but at least they will give you a moment’s chance.

The people who already know you may be harder to convince that you have something new to say. They’ve already classified you as “mother of three,” “computer nerd” or “Uncle Jake with the strange tattoo.” These mental perceptions run deep. You may never convince your mother that herbs are wonderful or that you know what will help with her gout.

The key to breaking old patterns of perception is simply exercising the consistency and persistence to make deep new patterns. As you continue to do your new thing, you will build a new reputation and your family and friends will have to start seeing you in a new light.

Involving your spouse

If your spouse doesn’t share your enthusiasm, all is not lost. Distributors who have been there often say that it’s not unusual for the reluctant spouse to eventually join the other in the business. But it usually takes time and the right attitude.

The best advice is to not push too hard; that would only alienate them and make things harder. If you’re going to improve their diet, do it gradually. If you start them on an herbal program, choose one that is “just right” – one that will gently improve their health over time. Listen to their concerns and do what you can to not challenge them in that area. Show your spouse the respect they need in order to earn the understanding that you want.

Show that you still love and support your spouse. If you quietly and persistently keep on without in-your-face confrontations, your spouse can lower their defenses. Once that happens, you can involve them gradually, answer their questions and quiet their fears.

You’re not going to take away everything they love to eat and force them to live on carrot tops and turnip greens. All you want is to contribute to the financial security of your family and help others in the process.

“There is nothing so easy but that it becomes difficult when you do it reluctantly.”

Involving your children

Helping in the family business can be one of the most significant constructive influences on the developing self-confidence of a young person. Instead of watching TV or playing video “virtual reality,” here is a chance to experience real reality. They can develop real skills and feel very much needed and appreciated.

Your children can earn and save significant amounts of money. (You do plan to pay them, don’t you?) We promised our boys when they were in their early teens that we would match whatever they had saved to invest in their own cars, when the time came. Our youngest took that to heart and tucked his money away for years. When the time came, we paid up several thousand dollars against his first car. He learned his lesson too well, but we were proud of his determination and good choices.

A child who learns to meet and talk to strangers, handle money correctly, make decisions and be responsible for the feeding the fish will already have what it takes to function away from home when they are more “grown up.”

You can work out schedules that allow appropriate time for homework and other school activities, play time with friends, and vacations.

Certain questions and situations come up regularly. Children really take pride when they can provide the right answer with authority. Of course children don’t know all the answers at first, but neither did you.

Living herbally ever after

The natural health philosophy can seem pretty scary at first. It runs completely counter to strongly-held beliefs about nutrition, vaccinations and drug therapy. Your spouse may think you’ve joined a cult or taken one too many enemas. Maybe your new interest disrupts a comfortable routine and makes them feel insecure or robbed of your attention.

Eventually something will happen that can change their mind. Gloria started her business as a hobby and got her husband Jim’s attention when she won a free trip to Lake Tahoe. Gloria says: “He was so impressed all he could say was ‘Wow!'”

When husband and wife share the same good values and goals, life is much more rewarding. Maybe you will have to give up your business to make peace in the family. Maybe your family will join you in the business. Either way, you will have learned how to be healthier and happier so that you can “live herbally ever after.”

Men, women, and relationships

The women in my extended family have been passing around and discussing the books by John Gray, Ph.D. This is the fellow who wrote “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.” A little more slowly, some of the men are catching on. Not surprisingly, the guys who have always been the most obnoxious pigs are having no part of it.

Dr. Gray has been counseling couples for 20 years. He took his observations to workshops and seminars and then started writing books. He’s clearly a keen observer of human nature and deserves your attention. He writes about the obstacles to good communication between men and women.

For instance John explains that we all need love but a man tends to identify with his actions and responds best to trust, appreciation and acceptance while a woman tends to identify with her feelings and responds best to respect, understanding and care.

He says that men and women respond differently to stress. A man will tend to withdraw and become more focused to deal with stress; he needs to “go to his cave” to come up with a plan. A woman will tend to lose focus and overwhelm; she needs him to listen as she shares her anxieties. These difference often provoke men and women into behaviors that are completely misunderstood by their spouses.

I recommend these books to anyone who wants to improve their ability to understand, communicate and love.

Copyright 1996, 2010, David Satterlee

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License, which essentially says that you are free to share the work under the conditions that you attribute it fully, do not use it for commercial purposes, and do not alter it.