Change Begins with Choice
By: Jim Rohn
Any day we wish, we can discipline ourselves to change it all. Any day we wish, we can open the book that will open our mind to new knowledge. Any day we wish, we can start a new activity. Any day we wish, we can start the process of life change. We can do it immediately—or next week, or next month, or next year.
As Shakespeare uniquely observed, “The fault is not in the stars, but in us.” We created our circumstances by our past choices. We have both the ability and the responsibility to make better choices beginning today. Those who are in search of the good life do not need more answers or more time to think things over to reach better conclusions. They need the truth. They need the whole truth. And they need nothing but the truth.
We cannot allow our errors in judgment, repeated every day, to lead us down the wrong path. We must keep coming back to those basics that make the biggest difference in how our life works out. And then we must make the very choices that will bring life, happiness and joy into our daily lives.
And if I may be so bold to offer my last piece of advice for someone seeking and needing to make changes in their life: If you don't like how things are, change it! You're not a tree. You have the ability to totally transform every area in your life—and it all begins with your very own power of choice.
Mexico President Enrique Peña Nietoon signed into law the country’s 21-part energy reform legislation, the result of constitutional changes that will open Mexico’s hydrocarbon and electricity sectors to private investors. State-run Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) will still control Mexico’s energy business, but French integrated oil giant Total (TOT), U.S. exploration and production company Noble Energy (NBL) and others private companies have pledged to step up their Pemex partnerships.
The devil is in the details, as author Diana Villiers Negroponte, a senior fellow focused on Latin American foreign policy, explains in an article for the Brookings Institute. She says the vitality and strengthening of Pemex is critical to the success of reform. It certainly has the incentive: This is anticipated to reduce Pemex’s tax liability from $5.2 billion in 2012 to $1.896 billion each year for the next five years beginning in 2015.
In theory, over the next five years the secondary laws establish that Pemex will contribute to the Ministry of Finance 11 percent less tax than its high average of 69 percent of total income. This permits the state-owned oil company to invest in fields which previously were not profitable for lack of technology, as well as provide for the training of petroleum engineers, acquisition of equipment and development of new fields. Pemex should now have the capacity to increase its oil production…On paper, Pemex’s tax rates are reduced, but elsewhere in the reformed laws, the Ministry of Finance retains the right to adjust tax rates to ensure sufficient revenue for public expenditures.
Over the past 18 months, Crowdfunding has entered the vocabulary of the business community, but it can mean very different things to different people. There are currently circa 300 Crowdfunding platforms operating. They are offering investors the opportunity to lend to business, buy equity in startups and growing businesses, support projects for rewards or buy a new product which is still in development. This has led to a lot of confusion in the market place as the definition of what exactly Crowdfunding is has become very broad.
Usually Crowdfunding platforms are classified as being loan-based (P2P lending), investment-based or a rewards based model. The property sector is also embracing P2P lending. They are in a strong position as property is a sector reliant on debt and banks have retreated from it. For borrowers, there is a lot of competition to get your project listed. What helps is a strong past record and a relationship with the platforms. The property industry is built on personal relationships and just because a funding mechanism is online doesn’t mean these relationships no longer matter.
Investment based Crowdfunding is much broader, the SEC has defined it as “non-readily realized securities". This primarily covers the sale of equity in unlisted private companies. For investors, the likelihood of high returns are limited as statistics suggest that only one in 10 startups succeed. However this statistic is improved on equity Crowdfunding platforms because they heavily vet startups to give investors the best opportunity for success. The investors have to be aware that there will probably be further rounds of funding so your initial stake may become diluted. For the business this type of Crowdfunding can give it the opportunity to find smart money; Investors who might have valuable industry knowledge or skills that can support the growing business. It will also give a business a support base of people with “skin in the game” who have a financial incentive to ensure it succeeds. Business owners however have to be aware of shareholders rights and potentially predatory aspirations of shareholders.
Where some confusion has entered the Crowdfunding arena is whether a debenture (company loan) or a mini-bond (also a company loan) is P2P lending or an investment. It is a widely held view that P2P lending is a straight financial transaction. It’s suggested that people lend to local businesses with an altruistic sentiment but I would argue that it’s the high interest rates that's the real motivator. As discussed, equity investing in startups is more sentimental and a long term investment with an undefined timescale for a return.
The other type of Crowdfunding is rewards based. Kickstarter has given entrepreneurs the opportunity to bring exciting new products to market and establish a large loyal customer base. If you are manufacturing an innovative product with international appeal, Kick Starter can be very effective. Present your product design, outline how you will deliver it and list your rewards. The challenge of raising the money then starts.
Both equity and rewards based Crowdfunding have a common challenge which is marketing the campaign. It’s unfortunately not simply a case of listing your business or project and expecting the money to roll in. It takes both time and resources to have a successful raise. Planning has to be carefully carried out in regards to organizing your business and having a clear business plan. Existing share holders should be consulted and investors in equity Crowdfunding raises will expect the business to have regulatory approvals. Resources also have to be set aside to effectively market your raise using social media and traditional marketing techniques.
Using good professional partners will help in this process and CFO Capital Partners is well positioned to help you take your Crowdfunding project forward.
While the incorporation of dogs and cats in senior living as part of pet therapy programming is not new, one community is taking it to the next level by also housing a variety of barnyard animals who live year-round on its 43-acre campus.
Not only are the animals helping residents at Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley — many of whom grew up on area farms — connect with familiar animals, but the presence of such exotic animals as llamas is also seen as a selling point for the community. The senior living community offers a daily farm-like experience for residents with two llamas, one alpaca, five goats, more than a dozen chickens and three dogs.
The program started as a pet therapy program with center Director Ellen Levinson’s two golden retrievers 18 years ago. “It’s not a happy situation for family members who tried to care of their family member to then move them into a nursing home,” Levinson says, noting the senior living community offers skilled nursing, Alzheimer’s and respite care among its services. “They might be ridden with guilt. Sometimes just talking about the llamas helps, seeing them among the rolling hills and beautiful gardens [on the property].” And, having the exotic animals has created a unique niche of branding for the community. “It’s part of our name recognition,” Levinson says. “We’re known as the place with the llamas that’s nice to visit.”
Life Care Centers of America, the community’s parent company, with 200 facilities across the country, has a policy to rarely resort to medications for unruly residents, Levinson says, noting the therapeutic value of the animals. “We promote the low use of psychoactive drugs,” she says. “Studies show that stroking an animal’s head lowers blood pressure.”
Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley also offers post-acute rehabilitation, and recent research shows the positive impact animal-assisted therapy (AAT) can have on reducing the need for pain medication after joint-replacement surgery. In the study, AAT consisted of daily visits from specially trained dogs for an average of five to 15 minutes. Those in the AAT group had a lessened need for oral pain medication, about 28% less, than those not in the AAT group. “The animal-human connection is powerful in reducing stress and in generating a sense of well-being,” says Julia Havey, MSN, RN, CCM, lead author, Loyola University Health System, in the study. “This study further demonstrates the positive influence animals can have on human recovery.”
Data were published in the August/September issue of Anthrozoos by researchers from Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and Loyola University Health System. Anthrozoos is the official journal of the International Society for Anthrozoology. Giving directors at local sites the freedom to experiment and try new things helps programs such as these thrive, says Zofia Long, vice president of Life Care’s Northeast Division, noting that she is working with other sites to roll out similar programming. “The challenges are always that [providers] in health care are always afraid to take risks,” Long says. “People can worry and create barriers to almost anything. There’s more to health than just medicine, pills. Sometimes it’s a little simpler than that.”
The 24/7 maintenance of animals is done by staff who share Levinson’s passion for animals, as well as outside volunteers. “You want to utilize those passions you find in your staff,” Levinson says, noting that the memory support unit manager cares for the chickens, and a maintenance employee works with the larger animals because of his previous experience with horses. “It takes time and commitment. It can’t be done by one person. “You need to be willing to experiment a little bit, and accept failure as part of the process.”
Some animals work better for a certain population of residents than others, she says, noting that attempts in integrating cats into the program have not gone well. “We tried three, but they never worked,” she says.
Though it has historically been a design model prevalent among non-profit providers, one private-pay, for-profit senior living company is embracing the future of long-term care with a more home-like approach to skilled nursing.
Harnessing resident-centered design elements brought forth by the Green House model, Windsor Healthcare, a sub-acute care and rehabilitation provider with 10 campuses throughout New Jersey, is magnifying the small-house concept for skilled nursing and has applied it in a large-scale setting. “The thing about the Green House model is that it provides wonderful care, however, we have yet to see a Green House that is revenue neutral,” Windsor Vice President Joshua Jacobs told SHN. “It’s just not feasible for a for-profit company or a non-profit company that doesn’t have very deep pockets. So we asked, how can we take the model and put it into a larger setting?”
The answer for Windsor was to employ principles from the Green House model into a bigger environment, the result being the Venetian Care & Rehabilitation Center, a 180-bed skilled nursing and short-term rehabilitation facility in South Amboy, N.J. Whereas a typical Green House model provides smaller, more cottage-like lodgings for 10-12 residents, the Venetian inflates this design to accommodate its vast 93,000-square-foot structure.
The idea is to break down the community into smaller households that better resemble an environment that’s more home-like and less institutional for residents. “A big part of resident satisfaction is creating a warm environment where [residents] can direct the care they receive instead of being a passive part of the care,” Jacobs said. To achieve this desired appeal, the three-story, E-shaped building is divided into various neighborhoods self-led by residents and their care partners. These neighborhoods feature common appliances one would find in any residential home, including dining rooms and full kitchens outfitted with ovens, stoves, microwaves and refrigerators.
Each floor of the Venetian embodies a different theme with variously named neighborhoods. For example, the first floor of the Venetian carries a “trees” theme to symbolize continued growth during a senior’s elder years. Neighborhoods within that floor are Willow, Fern and Oak, each designed with its own color scheme and distinctive artwork.
Similar to a Green House, the Venetian is designed with principles of The Eden Alternative in mind. A 501(c)3 international organization founded by Green House creator Bill Thomas, The Eden Alternative is a person-directed approach to improve the well-being of seniors and their caregivers by transforming the communities in which they live and work.
Communities that embody these initiatives, among other criteria, can elect to join the Eden Registry for an initial cost of approximately $3,300. Joining the registry may take anywhere from 6-18 months, depending where an organization is on their path toward a culture change that includes not only a physical transformation of the facility, but also specific, dedicated staff roles that embrace resident-centered care. Windsor currently maintains four communities on the Eden Registry, but the company’s goal is to have all nine of its communities certified, especially as it looks to improving quality outcomes and the prospect of rolling out similar initiatives at future properties. “In the future, communities that have quality, performance and value will thrive and those that don’t will wither,” Jacobs said. “There’s a big chasm in skilled nursing, in that we provide transitional care and long-term care. We can use the Eden principles to drive our success in post-acute transitional care.”
A family-owned company headquartered in Norwood, N.J., Windsor operates nine communities located throughout the central and northern regions of its home state. The Venetian, which Windsor anticipates will open by mid-September, is the company’s tenth community.