How to Identify and Utilize Your Core Competencies

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Over the years that I’ve been working for GROCO and doing my radio program, American Dreams, I have met with a lot of people, many of whom are counted among the most successful and wealthiest individuals in the world. Most of my guests are also great leaders in their own right and they understand that being a leader isn’t about coming from a position of authority, it’s actually about learning to love those that you work with. To that end, I want to talk about identifying and keeping your core competencies within an organization. At the end of the day in order to implement any leadership strategy or any process, the person giving the process has to know his or her organization very well. He or she has to know the employees and they have to understand what it takes to motivate those individuals.

Identifying Your Core Competencies

When someone is looking to start a business the first thing they need to do is look at their core competencies. That means those in charge have to determine what advantages they have and what strengths they have to offer. They have to decide what their company is all about. So how do you go about identifying your core competencies? You need to look at whether or not it will have potential access to a wide variety of markets. Another question to ask is whether or not it makes a significant contribution to the perceived customer benefit of the end product? Is it something that will be difficult for your competitors to imitate?

Take Full Advantage of Your Core Competencies

It’s also important to understand that competencies are not the same as capabilities. You might have 20 or 30, or even more capabilities, but that doesn’t mean those are all core competencies. If you are about to launch a company you must be able to identify your core competencies, those things that you do well or better than anyone else. The business world is always changing, new technologies come and go, so it’s imperative that your core competencies are built on a rock solid foundation or your business will likely fall. You should be focused on building up the base of your core competencies and not get too focused on the outside sources and forces affecting you. You need to use those core competencies to your utmost advantage.

Building Your Business on a Solid Foundation

One of the most common debates that takes place in the corporate world is whether or not you should grow your company holistically or go out and buy other organizations and merge them in to acquire different customers? Both of these strategies have their pros and cons but if you prefer to have stronger core competencies that are built on a rock-solid foundation then building your company holistically is the better method. So as you prepare to launch a business, make sure that from the very first day you understand what the business is all about, what are the core competencies, know how build a vision and a mission statement off this competency and determine if the competency is actually scalable to the markets that you intend to serve.

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What’s the Real Motivation Behind Philanthropy?


According to its definition, philanthropy is the desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by the generous donation of money to good causes. Many of the world’s wealthiest individuals and companies are involved in all kinds of philanthropic activities and endeavors. Some of the most famous and wealthiest Americans have already donated much of their wealth to different causes and others have stated that they will do the same later on down the road. Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffet, Paul Allen and Mark Zuckerberg are just a few of the well-known individuals who have made philanthropy a top priority. However, although philanthropy involves the giving of money or goods with nothing in return, philanthropy is so much more than just giving away money.

Universal Giving

Pamela Hawley was a guest of mine on my radio program, American Dreams, and we discussed the topic of philanthropy. Pamela is the Founder of Universal Giving, which is an online nonprofit organization based in San Francisco. It focuses on raising money for international charities through its web-based marketplace, and on matching volunteers with global opportunities. Universal Giving is a resource for people who want to give, but might not be sure how to do it. The organization uses a venture capital approach to vetting charities that appear on their site, vetting all opportunities through their unique Quality Model. In addition, Universal Giving doesn’t take any share on the donations made through their site.

Philanthropy Is Love

According to Pamela, the way society looks at philanthropy in this day and age is incorrect. Most people just think of philanthropy as giving money away to a good cause. However, Pamela feels strongly that philanthropy is really the love people have for other people and for humanity. “What I love about this real definition of philanthropy is that at every moment we can be philanthropists. I think that is super powerful.” Pamela said that anyone who is looking for a mission in life could be a philanthropist. It doesn’t matter where you are or what situation you are in you can be a philanthropist. “If you’re in Safeway and you’re at the checker, you’re not just checking out your groceries. You’re asking the grocer ‘how are you doing today’; you’re connecting with them. It’s the same with your dry cleaner or another person waiting at the bus stop. It’s about the love of people.”

Using Philanthropy to Change People’s Hearts

Of course, philanthropy is about money, too but according to Pamela the money is really just the vehicle to change hearts. “When you give, your mind is changed, your heart is changed…your compassion is changed. That’s what we want to see long-term with Universal Giving.” Pamela’s organization isn’t just about giving and volunteering, it’s really about creating a great sense of connection, peace, community and understanding between people with very different backgrounds. Universal Giving aims to help people understand and cherish those different backgrounds that each person comes from.


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How Each Presidential Candidate Plans to Handle Corporate Taxes


If you follow this blog then you know that corporate taxes are a regular topic discussed in this space. A couple weeks ago we shared some comments from Disney Chief Bob Iger regarding the country’s corporate tax policies. This is a topic that continues to get a lot of airtime in the media as the three candidates still running for president continue to push the issue.

One of the reasons this continues to be front and center is that income from corporate taxes keeps falling. While it still remains a huge source of revenue for the government, over the past several decades that revenue has been declining sharply. In fact, whereas in the 1950s corporate taxes accounted for 30 percent of the country’s tax revenue, in the year 2015 corporate taxes accounted for a mere 11 percent of the total tax base.

There are several reasons for the decline, including corporate tax breaks, a lower corporate tax rate, more profits coming overseas and many loopholes that allow corporations to cut their tax bills legally.

As mentioned, each of the three remaining candidates running for the nation’s top office have their own ideas on how to solve the problem and just as one would expect they differ greatly. In a nutshell, republican Donald Trump wants to cut the corporate tax rate down from 35 percent to 15 percent.

Hilary Clinton, on the other hand wants to close loopholes so corporations can’t avoid their taxes, which increase corporate tax revenues for the government substantially. At the same time she has not made any proposal to cut the corporate tax rate. Bernie Sanders wants to increase the corporate tax revenue by increasing the tax rate even higher and by taxing overseas profits, among other things.

Time will tell who wins the election, and when that person does, whether or not he or she will be able to implement his or her plan.

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Disney and the Not-So-Wonderful World of Taxes


Disneyland is often referred to as the happiest place on earth, but according to the Disney Company’s CEO, Robert Iger, the U.S. tax system and policies are putting a real damper on all the fun. According to a recent report from CNNMoney, Mr. Iger told the news outlet that the country’s corporate tax rates are “anti-competitive” and the tax system is “ridiculously complex.”

Mr. Iger is not against corporations paying their fair share of taxes, but he says the tax rate should be lowered. He also said by lowering the tax base it would allow the government to close several loopholes that permit many of the biggest and wealthiest companies in the United States to essentially pay no taxes at all.

Mr. Iger’s comments cone after presidential canidate Bernie Sanders criticized Disney for not paying its employees a fair wage and for moving many of its jobs overseas. However, Mr. Iger strongly disagrees with Mr. Sanders and claims that his company is helping the U.S and the world in many positive ways.

Corporate taxes continue to be a hot-button issue on the campaign trail during this election and although Mr. Sanders has apparently lost his bid to be the democratic nominee, he continues to push for higher taxes on the wealthy and for big business. However, Mr. Iger feels that Mr. Sanders lacks the business experience to make such claims and says the real focus should be on overhauling corporate tax policies.

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Keep Your Small Business’s Taxes Small as Well

business woman taxes

Do you run a small business? Are your hands always full, or perhaps overflowing? Small business owners never run out of things to do, which means that sometimes certain things get overlooked or put on the back burner, including taxes. Unfortunately, you can’t really put taxes on the back burner very long, or you will wind up getting burned yourself.

As a small business owner you want to be sure that you’re doing everything you can to keep your taxes as low as possible. So here are some tips that will help you accomplish that goal. You probably have an individual retirement plan for yourself, but did you know you could set one up for your employees and thus lower your business taxes? By setting up a Savings Incentive Match Plan or a Simplified Employee Pension IRA you can match your employees contributions to the plan. Any amount of money you put in to match is tax deductible.

Another way to save money on business taxes is simply cut out employees as much as you can. In other words, look to hire independent contractors that will be responsible for their own taxes. By doing this you can reduce your payroll taxes.

One other important piece of advice is to find a trusted and experienced tax accounting and wealth management firm to assist you in your tax preparation. Doing this can help save you thousands if not more come tax time. Contact GROCO for more details.

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How Will Taxes Affect Your Success in Retirement?

retired coupleAre you at that point in your career where the number of years you’ve already worked greatly outnumber the years you have left to put in? If retirement is just around the corner for you, or even still out on the horizon a bit, you should be using this time to get ready for taxes. Taxes in retirement can suck a lot of money from your monthly income so making smart moves now can make a huge difference.

The last thing you want to do is run out of money in retirement. So keep these tips in mind to make sure you have plenty to get by. For starters, you need to know which bracket you fall in. If you move up the tax bracket ladder it could cost you because the portion of your social security check that is subject to taxes could go up. Therefore, if you can lower your income bracket by adding more to a retirement account or by prepaying some deductible expenses that is a good idea.

Another way to combat taxes in retirement is to make strategic withdrawals between the years you retire and the time you have to start withdrawing a minimum amount at age 70 and ½. Choosing the proper balance between taxable accounts and tax-deferred accounts is also crucial to saving on taxes in retirement.

You can learn more about saving on taxes in retirement by contacting GROCO today. Just call 1-877-CPA-2006 or click here.

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Are High Taxes the Real Reason Why Wealthy People Move?


Despite several reports that many of the wealthiest people in America are fleeing to other more tax-friendly states, a new report suggests that might not be the case. Of course, there have been some recent cases where these exact circumstances have occurred so there is precedence in this matter. However, it appears that not nearly as many wealthy are moving, as it seems, at least not just to escape those taxes.

That’s because a new study shows that in actuality most wealthy individuals don’t move from one state to another simply because of high taxes. According to the study, which was based on tax data collected over 13 years and reported in the American Sociological Review, wealthy taxpayers do move because of taxes, but those moves account for only 2.2 percent of the total.

The study also showed that those moves don’t greatly affect the state being left behind. What’s more, the study indicated that if a state decides to raise taxes by 10 percent on the top earners it only risks losing 1 percent of its millionaires. The reasons millionaires aren’t leaving for greener pastures with lower taxes are essentially the same reasons that most people don’t move. They have jobs, own companies and/or they’re married and have kids, all of which makes moving more difficult.

So, it turns out that although some millionaires are fleeing to other states with lower taxes, in reality most of them are just simply like everyone else when it comes to moving. It’s always easier to just stay where you are.

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Will Taxing the Wealthy Really Fix Income Inequality?

wealth-gap-[Converted]If you pay attention to any political programs or follow any news about the economy and taxes, then you no doubt have heard plenty of debate regarding income inequality. The fact is there is a lot of income inequality in the country. Whether you side with the haves or the have-nots, the fact remains that those on each side of the argument feel they have the right answers.

According to democratic philosophy, the argument goes that if you want to fix income inequality then you have to raise taxes on the wealthy and give more of that money to the poor or middle-class. It might sound like a good plan on the surface, however, a new report shows that in reality, if you really want to close the income gap between the wealthy and lower income classes, then policy changes are much more effective.

That’s right. According to a study just recently released by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the difference between the economic brackets among the top and bottom levels is not as important as the living standard of those in the lowest economic levels. The study also noted that raising the minimum wage would end up having a negative effect because it would help drive the unemployment rate even higher.

According to one of the study’s co-authors, Ryan Young, giving people access to economic and job opportunities that will boost their standard of living is more important than focusing on the income gap. Young also said: ““Policy reforms that help poor people include access to affordable energy, access to capital for entrepreneurs, ending occupational licensing restrictions, an honest price system, and overhauling a range of regulatory barriers.”

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Could L.A. Millionaires Be Facing Another Tax?

LA HomelessEveryone can agree that being homeless is terrible. No matter what the circumstances are that bring an individual to this predicament, it’s unfortunate that anyone has to be without a place to call home. Cities all over the country deal with the homeless in different ways, including California. The Golden State is considering taking its effort to stamp out homelessness even farther, and they are looking at the state’s wealthiest individuals to foot the bill.

According to reports, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors plans to include a proposal in November that would add a tax of .5 percent to anyone that has an annual income over $1 million. According to the numbers, that would create anywhere between $250 and $300 million each year in funds that would be earmarked for eliminating homelessness and helping these individuals back into the workforce.

So far, early indications show that most people are very much in favor of the idea. A recent poll showed that 76 percent of the 1,400 people asked, liked the proposal. The plan to wipe out homelessness in the county includes creating steady housing and services as well as job placement help, among other things, for the county’s growing number of homeless people. No word yet on how those who fall into this bracket would respond.

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The True Value and Importance of Communication

communicating coworkersCommunication is extremely valuable in all relationships and in almost every setting. If you want to have a successful relationship with your spouse you must be able to communicate effectively with each other. If you want to have a positive relationship with your children, then you have to learn to communicate with them. Communication in the business world is just as important. As a business leader you must be able to communicate with your team and vise versa. It’s also important to have strong communication with your customers. The fact is, no matter what type of relationship it is, effective communication is going to be part of any recipe for success.

Ajay Banga and the Value of Communication

That point was driven home by Ajay Banga, president and chief executive officer of MasterCard, during an interview at an event at Stanford back in 2014. In addition, to being the CEO, Mr. Banga is also a member of the company’s board of directors. Before joining MasterCard, Mr. Banga was CEO of Citigroup Asia Pacific.

Listen and Learn

According to Mr. Banga, the importance of communication in the business world cannot be understated. “If you know how to communicate well, which by the way is the most underrated attribute when you’re young, but the most important attribute as you grow, is your communication,” then the opportunities are endless. Mr. Banga said that another important lesson he has learned is that if you have the drive and the passion to succeed, along with the ability to communicate well, “then there’s a whole new world out there.” Another important aspect of communication is effective listening, which is what takes to be able to learn from others. Mr. Banga said, the best way to be successful when starting a new relationship with a company is to “take the approach that you can learn from everybody. They’ve all got something they can teach you, and then you can bring the value you bring. But you’ve got to learn from everybody.” When you go about starting a new business relationship in this manner, Mr. Banga said, “It changes everything.”

Recipe for Success

This is the true recipe for success when it comes to communication. You have to be willing to listen to, and learn from, others and then share what you know with them. Learning the true value and importance of communication when you’re young can play a huge role in helping you develop and grow in your business career and opportunities, which will lead to real and lasting success.

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