Why You Should Add Prayer and Meditation to Your Arsenal of Weapons
“The temptation to take the easy road is always there. It is as easy as staying in bed in the morning and sleeping in. But discipline is paramount to ultimate success and victory for any leader and any team.”
---Jocko Willink (Author & former U.S. Navy Seal)
Over the course of our careers, prayer and meditation have become our greatest assets. That’s how we’ve become thought leaders, innovators and rainmakers. The source of our inspiration is none other than our lord & savior Jesus Christ. We owe everything to Him… Truly.
In 2013, I was intentionally thrown off an elevated bus terminal at Denver International Airport. I broke numerous bones including my skull; and severely damaged my internal organs. Miraculously however, despite falling from over 40 feet, my spine and my neck received no damage.
That’s because angels sent from heaven guided my descent into darkness. In fact, they protected me from further harm before the paramedics arrived.
The emergency care team rushed me to Denver Health Medical Center in an ambulance in the dead of the night, where the trauma care team decided to induce a coma. I was in the coma for nearly two and a half weeks, and it was a hellish ordeal.
I do not recall going to the hospital in an ambulance in the dead of night. My body may have taken that journey, but my soul went elsewhere.
They flew me to a serene looking treatment facility on a bright sunny day. They’d strapped me to a gurney much like a wounded Vietnam combat soldier being evacuated off the front lines. The door was open, and I looked out as we descended.
I was isolated and tortured for those two and a half weeks. The pain was excruciating, and the mental anguish almost unbearable. During my last hours there, the devil’s minions tormented me as they prepared to open the Gates and send me into the depths of Hell.
As I lay there cowering in fear, a human figure approached my bed. At first, I thought He was death personified: a sinewy muscular figure most awesomely terrifying. So much so, that I turned away from him and curled up in a fetal position.
Some time passed without incident. So, I glanced back at Him not knowing what to expect. There and then, I found Him sitting on the floor near my bed, and my fears subsided.
After that, I woke up in Denver Health’s ICU unit. I spent the next five months at that hospital, and another year and a half in outpatient rehabilitation.
This tragedy turned out to be one of the greatest blessings of my life. Jesus Christ had delivered me from Satan himself; and my relationship with my lord and savior has grown closer since.
In this time of healing, I have begun to realize how impactful our thoughts truly are. Every thought we spawn goes out into the universe to some effect. Meaning that every idea we have produces energy through the Holy Spirit.
Consequently, meditation and prayer have become invaluable tools in my daily regimen. Through meditation, I’ve begun to distinguish my wild thoughts and my crazy thoughts from my sane thoughts. And through prayer, I give thanks for the blessings in my life and ask God for clarity of vision and purity of thought.
When meditating, I begin with a prayer and then clear my mind of all thought for as long as possible. As my thoughts manifest, I start to picture a narrow mountain top pathway. To my left is a cliff, and to my right is a thicket. Upon that pathway, I imagine my thoughts as sheep.
That said, it’s a difficult exercise to master. All sorts of temptations creep in, and I eventually wind up breaking my concentration. That’s when wild and crazy thoughts occur.
Every wild thought I have fattens my sheep. The longer I hold on to them, the fatter they become. Eventually, they waddle off the cliff, blurting out a hopeless last “Baaaa!” before falling into the vast unknown below.
As harrowing as that sounds, the fate of my crazy thoughts is often worse. Those thoughts send my sheep running into the thicket. If I become panicked and set off after that sheep without stopping to ask God for guidance, my lamb will become tangled up in the underbrush.
More and more, I am learning to rely upon Jesus to guide my sheep safely down the path toward their happy destiny. He alone ensures that my flock doesn’t wander off the cliff or end up prey for wolves in the thicket. And when my efforts are fruitful, he expands my resources to grow more sheep.
Whether you are an entrepreneur or an investor, the same should be true for you. Abandon your ambitions and channel your hopes, dreams and goals toward Our Father. Set your sights on Godly pursuits and follow the path Jesus walks. He’ll guide us well beyond what our limited imaginations ever thought possible.
Author: Erik Gagnon - Managing Partner, Chi Rho Consulting
“And He said to them, Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.”
"It is business that generates the jobs, income and taxes that keep a country going."
---Mark Skousen (American economist)
If you keep up with current events, I'm sure you're aware that the Republican-controlled Congress passed a sweeping tax reform bill last week. We’re not going to address the full minutia of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in this article. However, here are a few of the salient highlights for American businesses:
The substantial cut in U.S. corporate tax rates is undoubtedly the single greatest change in our federal tax laws in the last 30 years. It also seems to be the most controversial portion of the new legislation. Indeed, left-wing politicians and left-leaning media outlets have been quick to condemn the new Tax Act as a gift to the wealthy at the expense of the middle-class.
Before and after the House and Senate votes were taken last week, the pollical hyperbole was in full effect. According to Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D, NY), the tax bill seemed to “stuff even more money into the pockets of the wealthy and the biggest corporations while raising taxes on millions in the middle class.” House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D, CA) went even further stating, “This GOP tax scam is simply theft, monumental, brazen theft from the American middle class and from every person who aspires to reach it. The GOP tax scam is not a vote for an investment in growth or jobs.”
It’s interesting to note that the final votes in both the House and Senate fell squarely along partisan lines. While a handful of Republicans opposed the bill in the House, not one single Democrat representative voted in favor of the legislation. The same was true in the Senate where all but one Republican (Bob Corker (R, TN)) voted yea and the entire Democrat Senate voted nay.
The apocalyptic reactions to the bill's passing from Democrat leadership and the left-wing media are deeply disturbing, particularly when you take into account that most nonpartisan economic think tanks project sizable economic gains under the new tax plan. For example, the Tax Foundation (a non-partisan Washington D.C.-based think tank) conservatively estimated in their preliminary analysis that the new Tax Act will generate:
Keep in mind that the Tax Foundation used very conservative assumptions for their forecast model and did not take into account any real compounding effects. In contrast, several other noted economists are predicting far, far greater returns over the long run. For example, Forbes contributor Bill Conerly recently remarked, “The biggest impact will be the gradual improvement in economic growth year after year. A small increment added to our recent growth rates would be inconsequential in any one year, but the increments will cumulate and even compound. Twenty years from now, the difference will be significant.” In other words, it's very feasible that the new Tax Act will create economic boon conditions and actually increase tax revenues over the long run.
While the true long-term economic impact of the new tax legislation remains open for debate, a sizable number of high-profile American corporations are already beginning to return immediate dividends to their workers. Several companies (including Boeing Comcast, Fifth Third Bankcorp and Wells Fargo) announced new investments, minimum wage hikes and employee bonuses the day after the tax reform bill was passed by Congress. More major companies are expected to quickly follow suit, thereby negating much of the original hyperbole surrounding the bill.
advantage of many of the loopholes and special deductions that major corporations could. Additionally, the draconian 35% corporate tax structure discouraged venture capitalists from taking sizable risks on startups in the U.S. market for years.
Smaller businesses are the backbone of the American economy. In 2017, over 60% of American private sector jobs are with companies with less than 1000 workers. For a good number of these companies, the new Tax Act dramatically changes their scalability dynamics. Although not every small to medium size business owner wants to grow the size of their enterprise, a good number in fact do. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that the newly enacted tax legislation frees up financial capital for growth, research and expansion that was previously earmarked for the coffers of the federal government.
In parallel, it’s very likely that Venture Capitalists will begin to invest more and more in startup opportunities in relatively dormant American industries. Again, we're not going to get into Tax Act's minutia in this article (i.e. tax implications for VC investments). However, a basic understanding of economics leads to a realization that a sizable reduction in corporate tax rates makes American investments more attractive to VCs. Therefore, the likely influx of investment capital will undoubtedly lead to greater innovation. These investments will also increase demand for skilled American labor in a number of industrial sectors as competition increases. Consequently, real sustainable wage growth for American workers appears within reach for the first time in nearly two decades.
We'd be remiss if we didn't mention that an estimated 40-45% of all Americans pay no federal income taxes whatsoever today. There are many factors behind this astounding figure. However, an economic stimulus package of this magnitude will most certainly reduce welfare and unemployment figures in the years to come. In addition, the average American worker who pays taxes is expected to realize a sizable tax reduction under the new plan.
More important to our nation's future, American industry will once again have competitive advantages in the global arena. The truth of the matter is that our nation benefits wholly when job creators have more capital available to create, execute and innovate. Unleash the financial handcuffs from the John Galts of American enterprise and the free market will flourish. The positive effects will certainly ripple though society much as Mr. Conerly stated in his recent Forbes column.
In closing, a sad truth was revealed in the final Tax Cuts and Jobs Act debates and voting tallies last week. The leadership of the Democrat Party, as a whole, has now moved as far to the left on the political spectrum as the self-proclaimed “Democratic Socialist” Bernie Sanders (I, VT). They seem to have completely abandoned the virtuous, free market principles that have guided our Constitutional Republic for the last 241 years. Their "progressive" label appears to be a thinly veiled euphemism for neo-Marxist ideology. If John F. Kennedy were alive today, I imagine that he'd be aghast at what's become of his Democrat party.
Author: Erik Gagnon - Managing Partner, Chi Rho Consulting
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
---George Santayana (1906)
Earlier today, President Trump held a press conference in New York City announcing his new infrastructure plan. One of the key tenants of the plan is an emphasis on leveraging private sector capital and expertise to rebuild our nation's crumbling buildings, roads, transportation and waste disposal systems. In his prepared remarks, President Trump asserted that the trillion dollar public / private spending plan will efficiently stimulate the economy - leading to at least one million news jobs, wage growth, and new business opportunities in a number of key industries.
When the President concluded his short speech, he opened the floor for questions from the press. Immediately, the line of questions turned to the violent events that occurred in Charlottesville, VA over the weekend. We watched the live press conference and only counted one legitimate question related to the President's infrastructure proposal. The rest of the questions the President fielded from the press pertained to race relations and placing culpability on the individuals and groups behind the violent incidents in Charlottesville. Needless to say, we were disappointed that the questions strayed away from economics.
Why the New Infrastructure Plan Isn't Today's Top Story
The fact that most of the mainstream news media outlets aren't focusing their spotlights on the new administration's policy initiative roll-out isn't at all surprising. Let's face it, they're in the ratings game. Sensationalism and emotionalism outdraw straight reporting. Couple that with the fact that more and more people are turning to online sources for their news (9 out 10 people according to Pew Research), and you begin to understand why partisan story lines are now superseding objective journalism en masse. News consumption is at an all-time high, attention spans are low and competition within the market has exploded exponentially.
Partisanship isn't a new phenomenon in American journalism. As James L. Baughman noted in a 2011 article, partisan reporting was a standard operating practice for newspapers in the years preceding the Civil War. He sites, "Editors... unabashedly shaped the news and their editorial comment to partisan purposes. They sought to convert the doubters, recover the wavering, and hold the committed."
So what has the renewed trend toward hyper-partisanship meant for entrepreneurs in recent years? While the financial viability of new news media startups remains in question, the shift has presented a number of opportunities for quick buck artists to reach niche markets online through targeted digital advertising. That said, news media hyper-partisanship should ring alarm bells for any entrepreneur with a long term vision in most any industry category. Free market venture capitalists should be concerned as well. Here's why:
News Media Partisanship Feeds Social Unrest
As we mentioned earlier, President Trump spent a good deal of his time during today's Q&A session fielding questions about the extremists behind the violence in Charlottesville. He defended his original statements that fringe elements on "both sides" [sic] shared blame for the inflaming the incident. The media picked this up and ran with it.
We have an AP news feed in our office. The very first AP news report we received relating to the infrastructure announcement made little mention of the plan. The headline spoke only to the President's comments on the weekend's events in Charlottesville. The article was, in our opinion, a pseudo op-ed designed to further fuel a specific partisan political narrative.
Let's be clear here. The President didn't handle the onslaught of questions very well. That said, his defense was truthful. Multiple fringe groups were indeed in attendance at the rally in Charlottesville this past weekend. They included several white supremacist groups such as the KKK, Nationalist Front, and Rebel Yell. They also included a loose collective of leftists he termed the "Alt-Left" [sic]: presumably referring to Antifa members, Black Lives Matter, and others that stood in opposition of the rally organizers and participated in the violence.
If you're relatively familiar with 20th century European history, the scene that played out in the streets of Charlottesville were eerily reminiscent of events in Germany in the early 1930s. Take a look at raw film footage captured by independent journalists covering the event during the melees. You'll see armed, similarly clad combatants engaging in a battle over ideologies. There were indeed two fringe camps fueling violence at the rally on Saturday. However, we'd argue that they both represent the same side of the political spectrum: the far far left. Let us explain:
The Risk of History Repeating Itself
Fringe groups with disparate agendas but common core principles did indeed engage in battle on the streets of Chalottesville this past Saturday. Like most Americans, he fell into a trap and placed the fringe into two separate political camps labeled "left" and "right." By failing to point their similarities, we believe that President Trump missed a clear opportunity to rally consensus support for his message and unify the the nation.
If you visit the websites of the radical fringe groups that encouraged member participation at Saturday's rally, you'll find remarkable commonalities in their platforms. Better yet, follow their blogs and read their social media postings ("left" and "right") and you'll realize a similarity in their end objectives. They're both interested in dismantling many (if not all) of our founding principles including freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and markets — as well as limited government.
While we hear much ado about the neo-fascist "Alt Right", the media has given little or no scrutiny to the platforms of the egalitarian collective President Trump labeled the "Alt Left." The mainstream media has largely been sympathetic to the BLM and Occupy movements despite their overt hostility to core American principles. More disturbing perhaps, a handful of news outlets (including the Yahoo News and the Washington Post) have even run articles glorifying the anarchist activity of the the Antifa collective.
What we're witnessing today seems to be a nascent rise of Communist / Fascist ideology right here on American soil. Historians and political scientists like Vladimir Tismaneanu are quick to point out that the ideologies often go hand in hand and feed off one another. The cancerous ideologies spread across European continent during the early 20th century, most notably in the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany "where the final destination was the deplorable Gulags and the gas chambers of Auschwitz."
Communism and Fascism share some remarkable similarities:
The core difference between the two ideologies is their organizational structures. Fascism is a class-based system while Communism is egalitarian. What that means is that you get a Fascist dictatorship or a Communist oligarchy - both are oppressive / conformist forms of rule.
What This All Means For Entrepreneurs and VCs
We are definitely encouraged by the five tenants of the Trump Administration's infrastructure plan and their potential macroeconomic benefits. For entrepreneurs and free market venture capitalists there appears to be a lot of upside if this plan, or a similar plan with bi-partisan support, is passed through Congress.
As the president left the Press conference, he was asked by a reporter what it will take to begin to heal our nation's deep cultural divide? Mr. Trump offered a short response that emphasized two things lacking in this day and age: "jobs" and "wage growth." Given recent studies showing that being healthy and having a good job are two of the most important ingredients associated with subjective well-being, he may be on to something.
The U.S. hasn't seen real wage growth since the late 1990's and our true unemployment rate remains a question. More significantly, the Millennial unemployment rate is more than double the national average. Opportunities to find gainful employment and begin to live the American Dream, would no doubt quell sympathy for the far far left agitators and the lose collective of anarchists who fuel them on.
Conversely, a stalled plan poses serious concerns. A stagnant economy will only fuel more social unrest and further polarize our nation. There are reports out that more rallies similar to the one in Charlottesville are being planned across the country in the upcoming months. You can be certain that leaders of both factions of the far far left (communist and fascist) see them as marketing opportunities and are actively engaging in on-line recruitment campaigns to attract new members (and sympathizers) to their causes.
That said, there are glimmers of hope that responsible community organizers from the left and the right are starting to come together. Case in point, leaders on both sides of the Civil War statue debate held a joint press conference in Charleston S.C. today condemning violence and announcing their commitment to engage in objective discussion to reach a compromise. Although the platforms of the two group's spokespersons are well outside the mainstream, it does demonstrate that Americans with opposing views, who share our basic common values and principles, can reach agreement when they rise above identity politics.
We won't speculate on how future events will unfold. We'll leave that to the talking heads in our polarized free press. That said, every American who values our basic founding principles ought to take stock of our mainstream news outlets and begin to hold them to account. Journalistic standards are dying before our very eyes.
It's important to realize we're not dealing with "Fake News" in a true sense. Rather, we're flooded with agenda-driven partisan propaganda (left and right) that threatens the very fabric of our Constitutional Republic. Obviously, free market capitalists around the globe have reasons to be concerned.
Author: Erik Gagnon - Managing Partner, Chi Rho Consulting
We were on a call today discussing the changing landscape in social media and web media in general. Suffice it to say, it was a pretty interesting discussion. If you're not aware, the major social media networks have been criticized in recent months for censorship of conservative voices. Other web media giants, like Google, have also been accused of similar practices in content prioritization recently. The basic assertion by those affected is that the politics of the these web media giants is trumping free speech, free expression and free dialog.
While concerns over censorship began with the far right, mainstream conservatives have also expressed frustration and dissatisfaction with the policies and practices of the major web media companies as of late. Surprisingly, even voices on the left, like Bruce A. Dixon, are starting to express concern that specific political narratives are driving what people see in their Facebook / Twitter feeds and Google / Bing / YouTube search results.
As a result of the growing backlash, a number of promising social media startups have cropped up recently. They aren't necessarily catering to conservatives. Rather, they're building platforms that are firmly rooted on 1st Amendment principles. It seems the free market also favors our basic freedoms. They're starting to get attention in from venture capital world too.
Gab, a direct competitor to Twitter, launched in August of 2016. It recently raised nearly $500,000 through the crowdfunding platform StartEngine. Reports suggest that Gab's membership base is ramping up fast. Consequently, VC's are starting to look for other promising startups in the in the web media arena.
In late August of this year, a new social media platform called InfinitySN will launch. Their business model is designed to attack Facebook with a vengeance. As one InfinitySN insider stated today, their aim is "to turn Facebook into the modern day MySpace" by 2020. One of their founders had an interesting (and historically accurate) perspective on their chances of success. To paraphrase, "It doesn't necessarily pay to be first to market. Others learn from your mistakes, build a better product, and push you out of the category."
Athough there has been a little buzz on social media discussing InfinitySN and what their promising to deliver, it appears the startup is waiting until launch to hype the product through traditional PR channels. They're currently flying under the radar screen and seem to be banking on the fact that growing dissatisfaction with the social media behemoths by the general public, combined with positive word of mouth, will fuel interest in the platform.
InfinitySN started as a social media platform for the Colorado community. They saw an opportunity to expand their market, retooled and will launch globally August 29th. It'll be interesting to see if InfinitySN will live up to the hype we heard on the call. That said, we left the call scratching our heads and wondering why it's taken so long for a serious competitor to enter this market?
You can read an old press release from InfintySN relating to their Colorado launch here.