Self Confidence Drives Success


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Confidence word destruction
Recently, I was perusing the web and I came across the excerpt below from Confidence of a Champion” by Tim Marks.

“Self-confidence is simply belief in yourself.  It is the belief that you can handle a certain situation or task.  For example, I am a “confident driver” because I have certainty and belief in my ability to handle myself behind the wheel.  Social confidence means I am unafraid to walk into a room and shake hands with strangers.  Professional confidence means I feel capable to do my job well.  Confidence impacts the way you carry yourself in the world, in your interactions with people, and in the actions that you do or don’t take.”

Marks goes on to say that your confidence is based upon your personal mixture of three vital ingredients: self-esteem, self-image, and self-worth.

As I was reading the above statement, I reflected on the fact that Self Confidence is one of the foundational keys to personal and professional success.  I am by nature an optimist. I am deliberate about surrounding myself with positivity: people, places and things. I am rarely afraid to face down my fears and make decisions regarding my business or my personal life and to a great extent, I credit this to my strong self confidence.

That being said, I realize that even the best of us experience setbacks, personally and professionally, and sometimes these setbacks can negatively affect our self-confidence: self-esteem, self-image and self-worth.

Recently, I was speaking with one of my friends who I would describe as a smart, strong and an extremely confident leader.  If you met her in a crowded room, her presence certainly would not be missed.

However, she was not herself and I knew that something was wrong. I pulled her aside and asked if something was troubling her.  She then asked if she could get my advice regarding a personal crisis that she was experiencing.

As she shared with me regarding her situation, I made a few observations: her good posture had turned to slumped shoulders.  She made lethargic movements, had poor eye contact and her voice began to tremble and lose it’s strong, confident tone.  I could tell that she was letting this problem get ‘the best of her’ and she had been vacillating over the right decision to make.

I didn’t like seeing her in this position of fear so, without hesitation, I offered: “The greatest mistake you can make is continually fearing that you will make one.”

As she left my presence, I immediately saw her renewed confidence and her physical demeanor changed instantly.  Then, it dawned on me that earlier in my career, I had encountered a personal crisis of my own and my fear of making a mistake nearly stopped me from taking action and, was stalling my progress and my ultimate success.

The funny thing is…when I finally stopped dissecting my situation and I (finally) made a decision (based on facts);  it was as if the sky opened up — my business began to, not only, survive, but thrive!  The sheer act of making a sound decision was the catalyst for taking my business to a new level of operation and, ultimately, success.

That being said, if you let fear run your life, you will never take any action and your chances of success are diminished dramatically.

So, in the words of Henry David Thoreau“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.  Live the life you have imagined.”  Live life without fear and Success will surely follow.

~Preston Byrd

Tax Exempt Bonds and the 4% tax credit


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Business Training
A project financed with tax exempt bonds typically qualifies for the 4% new construction/ rehab tax credit. This is because tax exempt bonds are a kind of federally subsidized financing, and the 9% credit may not be used in such cases. If the project is located in a Qualified Census Tract or a Difficult to Develop Area, it is able to use the 130% basis Boost. (Like any other project, it also qualifies for the 4% acquisition credit if it meets the standard acquisition tax credit criteria.)

One important advantage to using tax credit bond financing is the fact that the project does not need to compete for its tax credits. They are allocated to the project “as-of-right” once bond financing is awarded to the project.

However, the full amount of the project’s tax credits will be awarded only if certain very specific criteria are met:

• At least 50% of the cost of each building in the project is financed with tax-exempt bonds. The bond amount for each building must be 50% of depreciable basis plus land (the “50% test”).

• The 50% test must be met at construction completion.

• If the project has a cost overrun, the test will include any additional depreciable costs. Therefore, it is prudent to have a substantial financing cushion when structuring the bonds.

• If the 50% test is missed, the tax credits are reduced to an amount equal to the bonds’ percentage of total sources of funds. If the bonds represent only 45% of the depreciable cost-plus land, the project gets only 45% of the maximum possible tax credits.

• The state agency granting the bonds must provide a signoff that the project qualifies for tax credits under the state’s Qualified Allocation Plan.

• The issuer of the bonds must provide a signoff that the bonds are subject to the state’s volume cap and that the project qualifies for tax credits.

~Preston Byrd

Calculating Tax Credit Equity


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The New Construction / Rehabilitation Credit (the so-called “9% Credit”)

• The 9% credit is the most standard kind of tax credit used with affordable housing projects. It is for affordable rental housing projects and is related to:

– The cost of construction of new residential rental housing, or
– The cost of the substantial rehabilitation of existing residential rental housing.

• Only very rarely is the actual tax credit rate used exactly 9%. The “9%” rate is a rate that is calculated and released monthly by the U.S. Treasury Department. Each month, it reflects the weighted-average cost to the U.S. Treasury of long-term debt with maturities comparable with those for tax credit projects.

• Over the years, the actual “9% rate” has ranged from 8.12% to 9.27%. The rate for July 2014 was 6.10%.

• The amount of the annual tax credits is calculated by multiplying the actual tax credit rate for the month selected to the project’s Qualified Basis.

The New Construction/ Rehabilitation Credit for Federally Subsidized Projects (the so-called “4% Credit”)

• If a project is financed with a federal subsidy – for example it uses tax exempt bond financing or federal HOPWA funds as a special needs project – then the new construction/rehab basis of the project is eligible for a 4% credit, not the standard 9% credit.

• Like the 9% credit, the 4% credit is calculated monthly by Treasury. It has ranged from 3.49% to 4.00%. The Current Rate for August 2014 is 3.89%.

• All other rules defined above for new construction/rehabilitation apply, and there may be additional requirements to be satisfied.

The 4% Acquisition Credit

• Costs associated with the purchase of a building (excluding value of land) can qualify for a 4% tax credit, but only if:
– the building is to be substantially rehabilitated as described above, and

– the building meets requirements for the “10-Year Acquisition Rule” – in short a building meets the rule’s requirements if it has not been sold in the last 10 years and it has not been substantially renovated in the last 10 years.

• The tax credit rate is the same as for the 4% construction/ rehab projects.
~Preston Byrd

Want to Become a Powerful Leader? Tell a Good Personal Story


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Entrepreneurs tell stories. They tell investors about how their business model is unique; they convince consumers about their products’ benefits and they advertise online about how their brands will disrupt the whole industry.

However, there’s just one story that entrepreneurs must never forget to tell, as it’s arguably the most important one for their business to succeed: their own personal story. “When you tell your story, it reveals your values,” says Brian Hardwick, head of messaging and activation for Enso, a Santa Monica, California-based creative agency that’s built campaigns for brands such as Google and the Gates Foundation. “When you connect that to a larger shared value, you really give people a reason to believe in you.”

With a team of 30, Enso aims to help brands amplify their impact on industry and society overall. One of the company’s projects was the launch of Google Fiber in Kansas City in 2012, for which Hardwick and his team asked individuals to describe how a faster Internet connection would help area residents. The campaign was called “Let’s do this for Kansas City.”

Coming from a background as an advocacy strategist–he helped Al Gore found and build his organization to fight climate change–in political campaigns, Hardwick can’t be more bullish on personal story telling. He thinks crafting a powerful back story, as politicians often do, is also essential for entrepreneurs to market their brands. In an interview with Inc., Hardwick gives his top advice for how to become a better story teller and thus a better leader:

1. Open up about your past.
A good story is not a replication of your resume or your LinkedIn profile, but instead it should include details that people can’t easily spot simply by Googling you. Maybe a childhood memory can connect to what you do now. At age 12, Mark Zuckerberg programmed an instant messaging service that his father used in his dental office. Sharing that part of your story makes you more relatable.

2. Find commonalities.
Carefully think about how your story can be connected to all of the people you are sharing the story with. Good stories resonate. One example that Hardwick gives is that most entrepreneurs will probably have a moment when they find themselves standing at a crossroads, wondering if they should go for the safer solutions or risky paths. Find the common moments and tell your own unique stories.

3. Pull from childhood lessons.
College seemed to be a starting point of many stories. What about all the colorful years before then? Hardwick suggests that you should think about all of the people that have influenced you since your childhood, and what you have learned that help you make all the choices along the way. Never neglect the lessons that your parents or even your grandparents told you, there are always some shared values in those words.

4. Tell your story to everyone.
Don’t wait to tell your stories until the New York Times agrees to interview you. The media will most likely never interview you unless they have heard of your story from someone else first. The best way, Hardwick says, is to tell your story to “everyone”–that includes employees, customers and business partners. Word-of-mouth is probably the best marketing medium for a touching personal story.

5. Don’t rely too much on social media.
Though Twitter or Facebook can be useful to market your products, it may not work that well when telling your own stories. Of course, Hardwick says, social media to some extent reveals your values, but your story will be most powerful if you can tell it in person.

6. Keep it short.
Think about your personal story as a special pitch about your company. You have to keep it short, and right to the point. Hardwick suggests that typically you should keep your story to under five minutes.

7. Don’t be shy.
When you start a company, people are naturally going to be curious about background. They’ll want to know what inspired you to go out on a limb and start a business, as it takes considerable guts to do so. They’ll also want to know whether your history confers qualities that can help you succeed in business. Don’t be shy. After all, you are part of your brand.-by Yolanda Lu

~Preston Byrd

How To Overcome The Boredom That Follows Mastery


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A few years ago in this very publication I read a piece by Amity Shlaes (who was writing about the dour nature of her family) called Family Affair that stopped me in my tracks. She said:

[My father] gave the best career advice I’ve ever heard: There will come a moment when you are bored with an area of study and will want to try something new. But that boredom is the signal you’ve achieved mastery. You’ll be quitting at the moment when it’s most costly to do so. Only a mastered trade can be properly monetized.

This insight, so deceptively simple and elegant, helped me to find a voice for a nagging feeling that I had long felt. I’m not happy unless I’m experiencing new things, learning new skills and living on the outer fringes of my competency. Amity’s quote helped me to see that the moment I master something, I get bored with it, and with boredom comes the itch to try something new.

I don’t know if it’s the endorphin rush of not really being sure of what one is doing, or the testosterone high of mowing down obstacles in one’s path, but my focus intensifies when this level of danger is present. I’ve come to believe that this trait is characteristic of many entrepreneurs since now that I’ve identified it, I’m seeing this quality present in many places. Is it conceivable that to experience flow, you have to be hanging out over the edge?

The best way to motivate me is to tell me that something can’t be done. Early in my career I was part of a team at IBM that created a groundbreaking cooperation agreement with a Big Eight accounting firm (Arthur Andersen & Co.). We had a framed letter from an IBM director who said something to the effect of, “Don’t waste your time. It can’t be done.” That became our rallying cry.

I’ll never forget my first meeting with the scientists at Argonne National Laboratory who invented a new method for turning greenhouse gases into diamond. Prior to that meeting, I knew nothing about diamond except for what I recalled (which wasn’t much) from a materials science class I took in college some 15 years earlier. Despite this apparent drawback, I became the founding CEO of the company we formed and my lack of background and industry experience in diamond never was a limitation. I had co-founders who were technical experts, and I relished climbing the learning curve to become competent in the domain.

Once I master something, it ceases to interest me unless there’s a way to leverage that knowledge in pursuit of the next dragon. That may explain why I’m on my fifth career and may be one of the reasons why leading a startup is so intoxicating. There’s always another mountain just ahead. No matter what is in your rear view mirror, the next day brings new challenges. When I left the synthetic diamond company the relevance of my hard-won industry expertise slowly declined. What I took away (to leverage again) was an understanding of how to build and lead a company.

In a startup there’s never a moment of comfort. A former business partner of mine called this “perpetually skiing beyond the tips of your skis”. Or driving beyond your headlights. Steven Wright described this perpetual feeling of instability, “You know when you’re sitting on a chair and you lean back so you’re just on two legs then you lean too far and you almost fall over but at the last second you catch yourself? I feel like that all the time.” Saul Kaplan, in his post Innovation Lessons From Tarzan, uses the metaphor of Tarzan swinging from vine to vine to explain the same phenomenon.

Absent the endorphin cocktail that comes from living on the edge, what’s a guy to do? How do you glide into a career where you can take advantage of your experience yet still feel challenged—and not be susceptible to entry-level wages? How do you find meaning and motivation in doing something that you’ve already done? Part of the answer is to do something that’s hard.

Had I been of age in 1962 when John F. Kennedy threw down this challenge to the nation, I probably would have dropped everything I was doing:

We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard….

I think this is a characteristic trait of entrepreneurs and I didn’t understand it until I benefited from Amity’s father’s wisdom.

I’m left with a question: How do you stay challenged and motivated in a field that you’ve mastered? -Neil Kane

~Preston Byrd

3 Ways to Make Managing Millennials A Little Bit Easier


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The young workforce can infuse your office with energy, but come with unique risks.

Millennials are invigorating the workforce with their youthful energy. If you run a fast-growing startup full of them, though, there are two unique risks that you absolutely must manage: quick turnover and rebellion against bureaucracy. If you don’t, you will lose control of your business.

I discussed these hiring and management challenges with Tom Erickson, CEO of the software company Acquia. The firm has more than 450 people and generated $68 million in revenue last year. Here are his tips for eliminating the risk and working with Millennials.
1. Create a relaxed work environment.

How does Acquia do it? Erickson: “We create a work environment that feels conducive to people in their mid-20s. There are places for recreation, beer on tap, and no vacation policy. We respect that they will get their work done and will be checking their email and mobiles 24-7. If they need to take a break, they can do it. It gives them some sort of balance.”

2. Make the executive team accessible to employees.

Acquia also makes sure that its staff can get access to key people in the organization. “To create a collaborative environment, we keep the organization chart as flat as possible,” he says. “We want key people to be accessible, to mentor our talent, and to help map out career paths.”
3. Set up processes, but be flexible.

If you let talent do what whatever it wants, you can create chaos. But if you put in place to many formal systems and rules, Millennials will get annoyed and seek greener pastures.

Acquia is willing to try new processes and fix or kill them if they don’t work. “We use the lead, fire, aim approach. We see a problem, come up with a solution quickly, do it, and see how people react. If it has flaws, we fix them. If it’s a disaster, we get rid of it,” explained Erickson.

Acquia’s approach to managing these risks offers insights for any startup — the first is to realize that Millennials need different features in a work environment than other workers. The second is to try to develop a culture and processes that attract and motivate them and be willing to adapt if they don’t work. -Peter Cohan

~Preston Byrd



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Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without. – Buddha

~Preston Byrd



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“Most people are blissfully unaware of these deep influences of their culture on the way they think. Luckily, by knowing more about the way culture affects thought, you can change your own typical way of doing things. If you have a tendency to focus on individual people and objects, then start paying attention to the way people and objects interact. These relationships are often a fertile source of new ideas.”

What does your cultural background say about the way you work or interact with others in your world of work?
~ Preston Byrd

At This Very Moment.


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The Truth is… each and every circumstance we face in life presents us with an opportunity to choose to see the miracles that exist in that current situation.

Though we may not be where we WANT to be; we are exactly where we’re SUPPOSED to be.

All things in our life are unfolding as they should be.

We ignite our personal power when we make a decision to focus less on where we should be and express gratitude for where we are now (at this very moment).

~ Preston Byrd

ShareWorthy :: How You Can Say ‘No’ Like a Pro By Jeff Shue


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“The truth is you don’t always need to back up your “no’s” with a reason, but usually the person asking wants to know why. Below are a few tips for saying no. For saying no with tact, sensitivity, and conviction. And, for sticking to it. There is NO need to feel guilty for saying no.”