The Burn Rate, Profit Margins and, Hiring the Next CEO

My very first boyfriend (age 15) remains a dear friend these 40 years later. He gave me great advice while going through my divorce, “Remove the emotion, Cinthia. This is now a business deal. You’re thinking profit margins here.”

Well, obviously divorce is very personal, but it was the best advice I got during that mess. The minute I felt a stage 10 meltdown coming on, I’d repeat to myself: This is a business deal. It’s not personal. Remove the emotion. Mind games, maybe, but true nonetheless. The person who was on my team for 20+ years was no longer on my team, and I had to get the best deal I could for myself. That was when I began to see my financial life as a small business, a mini-corporation. And, since, I was about to be one income short of broke, it gave me a way to view this new financial life without getting so wigged out that I was discussing it with the check-out-chick at the grocery store (who has her own D-I-V-O-R-C-E story, and little time for mine).

Now, when I am paying bills, considering purchases, or updating the budget, I view myself as the CEO of the Cinthia Corporation. It’s got a good ring to it, doesn’t it? Applying business tools to your personal finances is a good way to evaluate the overall health of your little corporation.

Ex: What’s my burn rate (defined as how fast I am running through funds, debt and savings)? Companies that have a high burn rate aren’t given much hope in the business world. For myself, let’s just say, I have prayer on my side.

What’s my profit margin? A simple definition of profit margin is the amount by which revenue from sales exceeds costs in a business. If you’re putting profits back into the business, and not spending it on drugs, which has crossed my mind recently (I’m just talking pharmaceutical prescriptions here, don’t panic), then that would be the retirement account.

Looking at your personal finances this way actually helps to remove the emotion and frustration, and let’s you play fast and lose with the numbers if you’re clever. Sadly, I’m not.

It also helps when evaluating long-term investments. Ex: Furman University, my alma mater, comes in on the tuition front at about 50K a year (that’s almost 10x the amount since I graduated). That’s 200K for 4 years if you’re slow on the math, and we’re not talking incidentals like books, etc. When my youngest was being considered for the Furman soccer team, I was proud but not crazy. We did the tour, and when the tour guide asked for questions, I raised my hand. What’s my rate of return on my investment, the 200K?

Excuse me?

Okay, so the tour guide was a sophomore, probably not the person to ask that question since she was currently contributing to her parent’s burn rate, but I know you hear me. And, was I really the only pareent there with that question? I mean, come on, like Junior is really going to pull that off? They say financial securities are commonly judged based on past rates of returns. Well, there you have it. Past rates of returns indicates I should give that 200k to the local homeless guy who walks the streets with his dogs. I mean, I totally like his dogs.

I knew the burn rate would be high for a couple of years after my divorce. I knew the profit margins would be negligible. I knew the gross margins would have no margins.

Setting up a new life after 2 decades of being in the same place is not cheap. But, I was clueless as to the challenges this CEO would face. After long meetings with the Vice-President of Human Resources (that would be Agapanthus, who prefers her full name in matters of business), I am considering Elon Musk, for the job, CEO for Telsa Motors, SpaceX, and designated the sexiest CEO alive by Business Insider. Hey, that doesn’t mean he isn’t smart. If he can get the job done while being cute: Bonus!

As a friend of mine says, “We is po.” Yes, we is.

Investopdeia suggests that when one is “po,” they should a) get a higher paying job (trying) b) get two jobs (done and done) c) get a roommate (I have one, he’s 20, I’m losing money on him). Investopedia aside, I think I’ll just do what Detroit does; hire the next CEO.  Burn baby, burn.

Or, consider non-profit. I hear they’re doing great these days.

 

Rearranging Deck Chairs on the Titanic

As a Christian, I was never taught it, but somehow I came to believe that God would never ask certain things of me. I assumed the Lord and I had an agreement worked out. For instance, I felt I could handle losing all my money, so if there was going to be a trial in my life, then the Lord knew that was a good one for me. It was a little game I had going with him. Lord, this trial is okay, but never THIS ONE (fill in the blank with your greatest fear).

Because of my assumed agreement with the Lord, when trial did come, as much as I should have seen it coming, I refused to believe the Lord would allow it to happen. I believed He would swoop in at some point and save the day. And He is certainly capable of that. So, as my ship was sinking, well, I was rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

I am assuming that I’m not alone here, Christian or not. I am assuming that most of us, whether we trust Jesus as Savior, or believe that humanity’s collective consciousness is God, we all are pretty much going to do the same when suffering comes knocking–duck our heads into the sand until we are forced to accept the circumstances.

Every step of my trial was one where I prayed that God would step in and change the outcome. He did not. And, here’s what I tell people now. I don’t want another trial, but I wouldn’t have missed this one for the world.

Here’s why.

1. I found out that God is faithful to get you through it, even if he chooses not to get you out of it.

2. I found out that while the ship is sinking, God is so very present in your life its as though you could touch him physically.

3. I found out that God will help you rearrange the deck chairs if that is what you need.

All the things I was taught as a Christian, that God is faithful to us, that he never abandons us, and that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us, well, I found out that all of that is true.

Once, in the middle of my big mess, my oldest son was home for Christmas. We had just picked him up at the airport, and he was expecting the holiday traditions he loved. We were going to decorate the tree first thing to get the festivities going, and I had everything ready to do it, but we couldn’t find my husband. When I did find him, he was in his office emailing his girlfriend, who he would later leave me for. I went into the bathroom, shut the door, and sat down. I said, “Lord, you promised you’d be here. Period. In your word, you promise you will be with us in every situation. I need you here now.”

No bright light shone into the bathroom. I didn’t see the Lord visibly (though many have). My husband didn’t end his conversation with his girlfriend or she with him. He eventually left for her and she left her husband for him. But, I came out of that bathroom able to cope, to make Christmas what it is, a celebration of Jesus’ birth. I came out filled with joy that Christ was born.

What grace.

I no longer assume that I am exempt from any trial. Instead, I know that when trial comes the Lord will be there helping me to rearrange my deck chairs until I am ready to let the ship go down.

 

It is that Day.

So, here I go again. Change.

When I divorced, and CHANGE HAPPENED, I moved to a small house in Brevard. Brevard is a tiny town that borders Pisgah National Forest, a rain forest. My home is downtown, within walking distance of the local coffee cafe and the movie theater. Three things I love to do: walk, drink coffee, and eat movie popcorn while watching movies (nothing scary, though).

I knew in my spirit that I would not be harmed here. This quaint town, and charming house with its azaleas, cherry trees, and Spanish bluebells, was going to be a safe harbor. The Lord knew how bruised and broken I was. I claimed the verse, “A bruised reed he will not break” Matthew 12:20.

I was exhausted.

I’d fought for my marriage for 3 years, and lost that war. I moved from my home of 20 years with no help. I packed, shoved furniture and drove it all an hour and half away, with only my then 18-year-old-son to help. It was raining. It rains a lot in Brevard, something I’ve come to love..

When the last box was unpacked, I collapsed on the bed, and told the Lord, no more. No more trials, no more big things, no more mistresses or divorce attorneys, no more inquiring “friends,” no more pain. Just NO MORE. He heard me. He heard me before I opened my mouth to ask. And, for 2 years (2 years August 1st) I knew I was defended. I knew He had spoken to the universe and said, nothing touches her. Sounds crazy, but it truly was a protected time. A time for healing and quiet and safety in a small house in a small town. But it wasn’t forever. It was for a time.

And, now that time is over, and the time ahead of me is one I have been expecting. I’ve been expecting it my entire life. As in, I always knew this day was coming. No, I’m not dying. At least, not that I’m aware of. This is a different kind of predetermined day.

When my Coastie Son decided to join the military, he went off at 18 scared but excited. About 2 weeks into boot camp, he was reevaluating his choice, and wondering what the heck he’d been thinking. But then, he came to THAT DAY. The day where he could either quit and go home, or get on with the program, and at least try. That day for him was 7 years ago, and his efforts have been rewarded.

That is the kind of day I mean.

It is the day you can no longer avoid yourself.

It is the day you must make a decision.

It is the day you might fail, but you still need to try.

It is the day you’re all in.

It is the day you take a big, scary leap.

It is the day you decide you’re worth it,

It is the day you stop comparing yourself to others, and just do the thing–whatever the thing is.

It is the day your life has been gearing up for.

It is the day you’ve been dreading, but also couldn’t wait for.

It is the day you will find out what you’re made of, but even more, what your God is made of. That’s huge.

It is the day you will need your sword. Your armor. Your will to fight. Your determination. Your courage.

This is not the day for wimps who bury their heads in the sand. This is the day to fight.

I feel I just wrote a bunch of Hallmark slogans.

But slogan or no, it doesn’t change the fact that the day has arrived. I told the Lord this past Sunday, “Let’s do this thing.”

Let’s face the fear that has encapsulated me all my life. Let’s face it together.

So, here I am. A girl with a sword, and a God. Let’s do this thing.

 

(I’ll post updates on my progress. NOW, if it is your day too, go do the thing.)

 

 

 

Dating, Iced Tea, and a Year of Silence

1. When you’re young and single, people ask you if you’re ever going to get married.English: A Glass of iced tea.

2. When you’re newly married and without children, people ask when you’re going to start having children.

3. If you have an only child, people ask when you’re going to get pregnant again.

4. If you have over four children, people ask if you’re going to stop now.

5. If you’re divorced, people ask when you’re going to start dating again.

Perhaps we should all just stay at question number one because question number 5 seems to just cycle back around to it.

But, to answer question number 5, since that is my current situation, and everyone does seem curious.

If, and that is a big if because I do not have a line of men outside my front door (or any other place for that matter), but IF some guy came along and wanted to date me, well, here’s what he would have to do.

He would sit across the room from me. In a chair. I’m probably on the couch. He would have to sit quietly in the chair for say, about a year. Just silence, no words. No talking.

After a year, he could ask me if I would like some tea (iced tea, of course). I’m not going to answer verbally, but depending on how the year of silence has gone, I will either shake my head yes, or simply not respond at all.

If it is a yes and he brings me iced tea (with lots of ice…just saying) then he must return to his chair, and we would resume sitting in silence again. I really don’t know how long this second round of silence needs to be. I haven’t gotten that far in my thinking yet. I just can’t say.

So, what’d ya think?

Dating, Iced Tea and a Year of Silence

English: A Glass of iced tea.

English: A Glass of iced tea. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. When you’re young and single, people ask you if you’re ever going to get married.

2. When you’re newly married and without children, people ask when you’re going to start having children.

3. If you have an only child, people ask when you’re going to get pregnant again.

4. If you have over four children, people ask if you’re going to stop now.

5. If you’re divorced, people ask when you’re going to start dating again.

Perhaps we should all just stay at question number one because question number 5 seems to just cycle back around to it.

But, to answer question number 5, since that is my current situation, and everyone does seem curious.

If, and that is a big if because I do not have a line of men outside my front door (or any other place for that matter), but IF some guy came along and wanted to date me, well, here’s what he would have to do.

He would have to sit across the room from me. In a chair. I’m probably on the couch. He would have to sit quietly in the chair for say, about a year. Just silence, no words.

After about a year, he could ask me if I would like some tea (iced tea, of course). I’m not going to answer verbally, but depending on how the year of silence has gone, I will either shake my head yes, or simply not respond at all.

If it is a yes and he brings me iced tea (with lots of ice…just saying) then he must return to his chair, and we would resume sitting in silence again. I really don’t know how long this second round would go for. I just can’t say.

So, what d’ya think?