What Does It Take to Live Your Dreams? By: Jim Rohn

September 30th, 2015

Stop looking at other people who live the good life, commit to your improvement—and let it be you.


Each and every day, people are living their dreams. Millionaires are created. Families form and create tremendous relationships. Individuals get healthier day by day. Life-long learners grow intellectually and improve their lives daily.


Let it be you!

The fact is, living the life of your dreams is possible. People prove that every day. Have you ever looked at someone who has money and wished that it could be you? People think about getting wealthy all of the time, when only a small percentage actually does. But any of the masses could. Someone is going to start a business. Someone is going to make a great investment. Why not let it be you?


Someone is going to decide to improve their relationships. Someone is going to enjoy love with their family. Someone is going to schedule some meaningful time with their friends. Why not let it be you?


Someone is going to become a life-long learner. Someone is going to go back to school. Someone is going to set a goal to read a book each week for the next year. Why not let it be you?


Someone is going to make the decision to become healthy. Someone will run their first marathon. Someone will join an aerobics class.


Someone will start eating better. Why not let it be you?


You get the point. Everyday people are improving their lives. It is simply a matter of a decision being made. Let it be you! But how? By following these very simple actions:

1. Commit to working on yourself.

Are you going to improve or stay the same? No matter what you have achieved, you are at a certain point right now. What you have achieved in the past is fine, but it doesn’t make a difference for the future. The decision about what you will become is made each day and every day.


Each day someone is making the decision to better him or herself. Let it be you.

2. Make a plan.

Once you have decided to become better, you will have to have a plan. It doesn’t have to be a long, intricate plan. It can be simple. Save a dollar a day. Walk a mile a day. Read an article a day. That is a simple plan with achievable goals.


Someone is going to develop a plan that will take them into the future of their dreams. Let it be you.

3. Begin to act.

All of the great ideas, without action, become stale and useless. The key to turning dreams into reality is action. People who have great ideas are a dime a dozen. People who act on their dreams and ideas are the select few, but they are the ones who gain the wealth, health and wisdom that is available.

Someone will act today. Let it be you.


Stop looking at others who live the good life, wishing that you were as well, and instead begin to commit to your improvement, develop a plan and act on it. Someone is going to.



Let it be you!

Lending in the high-risk, high-reward world of the legal cannabis industry

September 30th, 2015

The growing multibillion legal cannabis industry still has a major banking and financing problem.   A mostly all-cash business that banks and credit unions have shunned, marijuana also presents a wide-open opportunity for wealthy private investors and hard-money lenders who have faced no competition from mainstream lenders or large corporations.


The risks, though, are significant

Adult recreational use of marijuana is legal in four states and the District of Columbia, and some 23 states and D.C. allow medical use. The industry had sales of $2.7 billion in 2014, up 74 percent from the prior year, according to recent market studies.


But industry participants describe a financing system that resembles the Wild West. Under federal law, marijuana is still illegal, which has cast a cloud over the industry. The future of the legal cannabis industry may depend on who wins the next presidential election, or whether Congress passes a bill that legalizes marijuana.


Fearing reprisals from federal authorities, an overwhelming majority of banks and credit unions shun marijuana businesses, said Taylor West, deputy director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. Businesses are stockpiling huge amounts of cash in safes, she said, paying taxes and employees and buying basic equipment in cash. This has presented a number of problems. “It is a massive security risk, first and foremost,” West said.  “Then there is the question of transparency and accountability. It is that much more difficult for the regulatory bodies to oversee what is going on when you are forcing these businesses to operate in cash. It is really hard to do accounting and all of those things when you have also got this physical challenge of not having automatically generated records.”


Last year, the Obama Administration issued guidance to depository institutions designed to make traditional banking more accessible to the industry. A U.S. Treasury official said last year that 105 banks and credit unions were banking marijuana businesses, a figure that was widely reported in the media. West, though, said she is skeptical of that number, and believes many of these banks were issuing reports to federal regulators that they were closing – not opening - the accounts of marijuana businesses.


West said she knows of no traditional lender that is writing loans to businesses directly involved in selling or producing marijuana and its products. “We have lots of members who have been able to get bank accounts, either by working with a personal relationship with the bank or going through a kind of don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy,” she said. “But that is not widespread.”


A game dominated by investors, hard-money lenders

Marijuana businesses are primarily financed by wealthy “angel” investors and a few small funds and private lenders The angel investor world is exploding right now. They see an opportunity and they are not encumbered by the same rules that banks or big institutional investors are. It is a boom happening.


Networks of wealthy investors have loaded in $50 million into 73 marijuana companies in two years. In most cases, the investors put in money for a direct stake in the company, Dayton said, but private funds contributed about $7 to $8 million in loans. He predicted that the debt side of financing will increase because marijuana businesses tend to prefer loans to other financing, and investors can't easily finance marijuana businesses in some states unless they are residents of the state.  “This is a huge opportunity for people to lend money at higher interest rates,” Dayton said. “You have an audience that doesn’t have access to the traditional banks, but often have very strong financials.”


Lending to cannabis businesses can be a challenge. In Denver, the epicenter of the legal marijuana industry, growers have bought up most of the available warehouse space. Marijuana retailers and producers are also being charged three times as much in rent as other businesses, he said.   


There is no shortage of startup companies seeking short-term commercial loans that carry interest rates as high as 25 percent, but evaluating these deals is difficult. Funding proposals from marijuana businesses often include building-purchases at double the prices traditional businesses would pay for the same space. The Denver market is pushing producers into new areas, such a Pueblo, Colo., a former steel manufacturing town south of Denver with available warehouse space.


Foreclosure Starts Seek New Floor

September 30th, 2015

Foreclosure activity in the U.S. declined on a year-over-year basis for the first time in six months.  RealtyTrac said today that there were a total of 109,561 foreclosure filings (default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions or completed foreclosures) nationwide in August.  This was a -12 percent change from July and -6 percent from August 2014 and followed five consecutive months in which foreclosure filings exceeded those of a year earlier.  The filing rate equated to one in every 1,205 U.S. households.


The decrease in filings came mainly at the front end of the foreclosure process with foreclosure starts falling to their lowest level since almost three years before the more or less official start of the housing crisis. The 45,072 starts in August was a 1 percent reduction from the July number and 19 percent below a year earlier.  RealtyTrac said that, so far in 2015, foreclosure starts have averaged 49,362 per month, below the pre-crisis average of 52,279 per month in 2005 and 2006.


Foreclosure starts decreased from a year ago in 30 states, including California (-29 percent year-over-year), Florida (-40 percent), New Jersey (-38 percent), Texas (-17 percent), and Maryland (-26 percent). But as usual, improvements in foreclosure statistics are geographically uneven and starts increased year-over-year in 19 states, including New York (+20 percent), Virginia (+16 percent), Missouri (+77 percent), and Massachusetts (+61 percent) and Minnesota (+20 percent).


"Foreclosure starts in August continued to search for a new floor below even pre-recession levels, indicating the housing recovery of the past three years is built on a solid financing foundation," said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. "But the continued rise in bank repossessions indicates more batches of bank-owned homes will be rippling through the housing market over the next three to 12 months as lenders list these properties for sale."


Filings at the end of the process, bank repossessions, increased in 36 state and totaled 36,792 nationwide.  This was a 22 percent decline from the previous month but still up 40 percent from a year ago, the sixth consecutive month with REOs increasing on a year-over-year basis. Bank repossessions in August were still well above their pre-crisis average of 23,119 per month in 2005 and 2006, but well below their peak of 102,134 in September 2010.


Bank repossessions increased from a year ago in 36 states, including Florida (+23 percent), California (+31 percent), Texas (+168 percent), Ohio (+35 percent), and New Jersey (+295 percent).  They declined in 13 states, including Georgia (-55 percent), Illinois (-22 percent), Wisconsin (-7 percent), Connecticut (-36 percent), and Kentucky (-45 percent).


"This influx of bank-owned inventory may be good news for an inventory-challenged housing market, but buyers and investors interested in purchasing these bank-owned homes should understand they tend to be lower-value properties in areas where house values have not recovered as quickly and are more likely to have deferred maintenance issues that will need to be addressed," Blomquist noted. "The average estimated market value of REO properties nationwide is now 33 percent below the average market value of non-distressed properties, and homes that were repossessed in the second quarter of this year on average had been languishing in the foreclosure process for 629 days."   


A total of 41,308 U.S. properties were scheduled for a future foreclosure auction in August, down 14 percent from the previous month and 19 percent from a year ago to the lowest level since May 2006 - a more than nine-year low. This was about one-quarter of the peak for scheduled auctions in March 2010, but still above their pre-crisis average of 33,634 a month in 2005 and 2006. Despite the national decrease, scheduled foreclosure auctions increased from a year ago in 23 states, including New Jersey (+38 percent), Pennsylvania (+18 percent), New York (+64 percent), South Carolina (+ 38 percent), and Massachusetts (+ 21 percent).


Nevada, Maryland, and New Jersey remain the most active states for foreclosure activity with Nevada experiencing a 233 percent jump in completed foreclosures over the last year.  This drove a 4 percent year-over-year increase in foreclosure filings, making it number one for foreclosure activity again.  After holding that dubious honor for most of the duration of the foreclosure crisis it dropped lower in the pack in 2014 although remaining consistently in the top five.


Maryland's overall foreclosure was unchanged from a year ago despite a 429 percent spike in bank repossessions, and the state posted the nation's second highest foreclosure rate for the third month in a row.

In New Jersey filings increased 3 percent from a year ago - driven largely by a 295 percent year-over-year increase in bank repossessions and 38 percent year-over-year increase in scheduled foreclosure auctions - and the state posted the nation's third highest foreclosure rate for the third month in a row.


Florida's foreclosure rate dropped out of the top three highest among the states for the first time since June 2012 thanks in part to a 33 percent year-over-year decrease in foreclosure activity in August to the lowest level since April 2007.


Hey Startups! There's Federal Money If You Know Where to Look

September 30th, 2015

Did you know that each year the federal government has $2.5 billion dollars in seed capital up for grabs? It’s part of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. If you said, “no,” to the above question then you are exactly who the national outreach program is looking to reach. These are non-dilutive technology funding opportunities. That means from a financial standpoint it’s free money.


Last week the SBIR/STTR awareness tour came through Portland and 195 people were able to get one-on-one time with program officials. “We ended up doing what is essentially a Rolling Stones tour, but instead of rock stars in a bus, it’s a bunch of geeks,” said Javier Saade, the Associate Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Investment and Innovation. “When taxpayer money is invested into small entities, it provides returns through economic development, expansions on the frontiers of human knowledge, jobs, and the countries overall competitiveness — it’s a great tool for small enterprises to access very big pockets of money.”


The purpose of the SBIR/STTR Road Tour has been to demystify the government’s seemingly daunting program by revamping the website, educating underserved communities about seed capital, and humanizing the process. “People realize it’s always people on the other side, not some black hole — so it personalizes things,” Saade said.


One of the main goals of the tour is to educate innovators about the wide range of funding opportunities from governmental agencies to prevent entrepreneurs from pigeon holing themselves. Even though you may be a clean tech person, or a composite materials person, the Department of Energy isn’t the only place to go for funding. Up to 11 federal agencies have projects and funding opportunities.


“These programs help in a lot of fields in what is an amazingly broad agenda from a research standpoint in the United States,” Saade said. The program underscores this administration’s goal of making every single thing involving prosperity as broadly inclusive as possible. “What makes it really interesting is that it’s literally the most cutting edge, bleeding edge technology discovery exclusively available to everybody,” he said.

For more information on funding opportunities visit SBIR.gov. The event was held at Oregon BEST.


The group, which focuses on supporting clean technology startups, has an SBIR/STTR support center designed to help entrepreneurs navigate the program.


Years after the Real Estate Crash, Renters Are Still on the Rise

September 30th, 2015

Nearly a decade after the housing crash, homeownership is still waning and renting is on the rise, according to U.S. Census data released Thursday.


The homeownership rate fell to 63.1% in 2014, down from 63.5% in 2013, according to an analysis of the American Community Survey data prepared by Jed Kolko, a senior fellow at theTerner Center for Housing Innovation at the University of California, Berkeley. The homeownership rate peaked at 67.3% in 2006 and has fallen steadily since then. “It shows us ways in which the housing market is recovering very slowly,” Mr. Kolko said of the Census data.


Perhaps most surprising, single-family renting—initially perceived by many as a temporary solution for families who lost their homes due to foreclosure—continued to rise in popularity. The number of single-family rental households grew by 2.1% from 2013 to 2014, compared with 1.8% growth for households occupying multifamily rentals and virtually no growth in single-family ownership households.


Many families fled to single-family rentals after losing their homes to foreclosure during the crash because they could remain in a more traditional house in their own neighborhood. But the data show that many are choosing or being forced to linger there years after they lost their homes.


That likely reflects the long wait time of up to seven years before people who go through foreclosure can buy again. Stagnant wage growth and rising rents have also made it difficult for many people to save for down payments. The number of occupied single-family rental units grew 34% from 2006 to 2014, compared to a slight decline in the number of single-family owned units. Even the hot multifamily rental market lagged in comparison to single-family rentals, with just a 12% growth in the number of units. “The rise of single-family rentals looked like a recession response to lots of people losing their homes….It turns out that this trend continues,” Mr. Kolko said.


Despite fears about rising housing costs, for homeowners low interest rates have made it very affordable to own a home. Just 31.2% of homeowners with a mortgage are cost-burdened—meaning they spend more than a third of their incomes on housing costs—compared with 50% of renters.