Mallika Chopra: Managing the Stress of Financial Uncertainty

When I was in Business School at Kellogg, investment banking and getting a job at a company like Lehman Brothers or Merrill Lynch meant that you had succeeded. The thought that Lehman Brothers has gone bankrupt is mindboggling.

Today, I flew from LA to NYC and watched five hours of dire news on the state of the economy. Endless soundbytes of McCain saying the “fundamentals of the economy are strong” were contrasted with Obama proclaiming that McCain doesn’t get it. The reality is that this is a complex situation, and my very limited understanding of economics makes me feel incompetent in understanding many of the nuances of what could have, should have, and should be done.

What I do know is this.

When the market crashed in 1999, I had a good company that did not survive. Today, I believe I have another good company — Intent — and I am raising money in a difficult climate. (That said, this time around I will make sure we survive!)

While my husband’s income is stable, others in my family are being faced today with trying times in their work. As the founder of Intent, I may not have an income today, but I am responsible for a team that relies on me, which personally only makes me more committed to succeeding.

I think my money is safe, but I ask myself — should I just spread it around hoping for the best? Should I invest abroad?

There are difficult times ahead for us as a nation, and I for one want to be prepared. I want my family in a stable situation, so I will be minding our financial commitments for some time. I want my employees to have stability, so I will focus on milestones that position us for success in the short term, as well as the long term.

But this will not just be about the U.S., millions of people around the world are now affected by a global economy. We must lead by example in finding a new balance.

In challenging times, great companies are built. If we believe in what we are doing and we can manifest our intentions, we can and will succeed.

But then, I ask you, what can we as individuals and as a society do to help one another in this time of stress? What is your intention? How do we support each other, and create optimism and prosperity for the the years to come?

Worry Much?

As Olivia told me the other day, the Notes from the Universe email s are among the best to hit my inbox. I got a kick out of this one not just because it is funny, but because when I originally subscribed, the site asked me for one of my dreams. I answered to have a condo in Boulder. So in this message, "The Universe" made a mention of it, and here I am in my condo in Boulder reading it. We are powerful little creatures, aren’t we? 😉 Gives me chills to think of the thousands/millions of people coming here, to the Intent site, to write down their intentions and dreams… look out, you may just surprise yourself!

The email:

"What happens when someone worries?

Basically, they think of 100 reasons why something might go wrong. And all of those thoughts then struggle to become things, sometimes overriding their more constructive thoughts.

It’s like a train wreck. Ain’t pretty. But that’s the power of worry.

Now, let’s say you want something fantastic to manifest in your life, David. Hypothetically, let’s say you want a condo in Boulder.. (I know you.)

Have you sat down yet and listed 100 reasons why it might come to you easily, fast, and harmoniously?

I think you should.

Today works,
The Universe"


Small Town Values… Really?

There has been a lot of talk about small town values, and it seems that we all want the feeling of comfort, relaxation, bliss and calmness that the thought of small town values bring.

I grew up in a small town where the winters where white, the mountains majestic and everyone knew your name. Where my Mom did not have to stress about what school to send us to because there was no choice.

My Mom also did not have to wonder where I was because like today in small towns there are very few choices. I worked at the local A&W and my girlfriend at the drive-thru hamburger joint on the other side of town, and my brother raked leaves for our neighbors. The whole town saw the same movies; there was only one movie house and most of the time a feature film for families was playing. We all went to the high school Friday night light games and on Saturday nights she knew I was either hanging out on our one small main street or at my friend Wizzy

Teachable Moments

As a mother of a very rambunctious preschooler there is not a day goes by when we aren’t dealing with some kind of "discipline" issue with our son. He’s just at that age when boundaries are there to be pushed and we, as his parents, are there to push back — where appropriate.

I get it, that’s our role, the bad cop outweighs the good cop right now and that’s just the way it is, but it just gets me down when I hear myself sometimes, despite my best intentions, saying "No, you can’t…" "No, stop that right now" Agh!

Today’s New York Times offered a salient reminder in regards to discipline, to think of it not as punishment but as "teachable moments." It really made me stop and think. Enforcing rules and setting limits are all very well, but without explanation, what do they teach our children beyond the fact that Mom or Dad is the boss? (Not that that isn’t a valuable lesson in and of itself!)

Looking up from the newspaper to see my son spinning his 20 month old sister around on the desk chair gave me my first opportunity to put some of my good intentions to the test. So instead of calling out "Oliver, no stop it!" I knelt beside him and said "You know honey, if you spin your sister around like that it will make her feel sick, it’s really not a good idea. Let’s come read a story." No refusal, no stomping of feet, and peace was restored.

Rewarding good behavior is also something I know I need to think about — not just praise for things they do well — but attention when they are behaving, not just when they are misbehaving:

Many parents

Gotham Chopra: To the Media — You’re Not Helping…

I forget — have I made it clear whom I am supporting this coming November in the Presidential elections?

More specifically, yesterday I watched parts of The View during which co-hosts Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg took aim at candidate John McCain and lampooned many of his policies, his viewpoints and his selection of Palin as his running mate. Similarly on Bill Maher’s HBO show, Janeane Garofalo, clearly an accomplished and articulate activist, unleashed her liberal rage on a fellow panelist, a Republican journalist from The Wall Street Journal, at one point concluding that Democrats are simply better people than their Republican counterparts.

Everyone is entitled to their point of view, and certainly celebrities of every persuasion are free to express them on whatever exalted platforms they can. But it makes me wonder that if they truly intend for their candidate to triumph, do they really think they are helping when they say the things they do? There’s clearly a backlash in this country against the so-called “liberal media.” Whether such a thing really exists is worth the debate, but I don’t think there is any debate about the impression that exists. To that extent, a lot of times when I see the likes of the ladies listed above indulging in their rants, I wonder what are they thinking. Do they really believe they are influencing voters in a positive way, or is their own narcissism getting in the way of their intentions and having the opposite effect?
This country is at a crossroads. I know which road I want to take. I am not afraid to express it, nor defend it against those who feel strongly about the alternative road. I can distill my discomfort with McCain-Palin into a few simple things:
1) He’s old and has been part of the insider club for wayyyy too long.
2) There are over one hundred professional lobbyists employed by his campaign, which runs contrary to his reformist MO.
3) I find it disturbing how the Bush campaign questioned his integrity when they ran against him — his most redeemable quality — and how now he embraces them so visibly and supports so many Bush policies.
4) I don’t think Sarah Palin is qualified to be in the role she is being proposed for. I question McCain’s judgement for putting her there.
5) I don’t understand how Palin issues a press release about her pregnant teenager, brings her to the convention, parades her on stage, and then complains about the media covering it. As a parent and a voter, I just don’t get her.
There’s more but I’ll leave it at that.
On the other hand, I like Obama and what he represents. I admit that he has limited experience, and I understand those who are concerned on that front. But I believe he’s a smart, compassionate, and well exposed thinker with tremendous leadership qualities. I think he’ll surround himself with intelligent, diverse, creative thinkers who can lead this nation from the dark place it is. It’s a bet I’m willing to make.
But back to my main point: I am concerned that a lot of higher profile voices are not helping things when they take aim at the GOP. There’s no question that this election is going to very tight. Any small thing may make a big difference. Let’s keep that in mind.

Overcoming What Ails Us!

Every four years in the U.S. we see the same misguided and blind hope — that somehow some politician is going to make things right for us and fix the brokenness of our lives and the world, e.g. war, global warming, economy, poverty, etc. And then we end up disillusioned because it doesn’t happen. Why? Because human beings get the government and society we deserve. Our government and society are a reflection of how we actually are within ourselves and how we live — a reflection of our individual and collective consciousness.


Who Will Clean Up Wall Street?

Seven years ago the events of 9/11 sent the financial markets into turmoil. Today, our markets are in turmoil again. But this time the weak Dow is not a result of terrorist activity, it is a result of poor financial decisions made by large U.S. institutions. The real estate bubble drove banks and lenders to make mortgage loans to people who didn’t have the means to make their mortgage payments. The possibility of making money — at any price — overshadowed savvy business sense for many at these financial institutions.

The fallout? Today, Merrill Lynch has been purchased by Bank of America. Lehman Brothers is selling off its assets and restructuring. AIG — the largest insurance company in the world — has lost 50 percent of its market value. It is now seeking $40 billion in a "bridge loan" from the Fed.

Recently Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were taken over by the Fed. The companies lost about 80 percent of their joint value over the course of the year.

Our financial institutions are crumbling. The effects will be felt by their employees and investors, as well as by the international economy.

My question to the Intent community is, how can we prevent such events from happening again? What levels of integrity should we expect from those who make these financial decisions? Which presidential candidate — Obama or McCain — will create guidelines and communities that don’t allow such rash decisions to be made, decisions that take a toll on everyone — not just those responsible?

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