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Margaret Starner

Margaret’s Musings

Here’s where you’ll find Margaret Starner’s thoughts and insights on developments that shape your community, your world – and your portfolio.

Margaret Starner

In the Chinese art of Feng Shui, the red door brings luck and positive energy to those who live behind it. Throughout our website, the red door is your portal to Margaret's Musings. “Red Door with Tassel” photograph appears courtesy of Julie Masterson Photography.


| June 23rd, 2017 – Class of 2017 |

Congratulations to all who have just graduated from high school or college in the class of 2017. We have seen many proud parents and grandparents recently celebrating graduations and all are excited about their kids' next step.

I have always loved reading or hearing graduation speeches. I can't help but notice that much of the press coverage about recent graduations has focused on controversy and student rebellion. Though I am a strong believer in public discourse, I also believe that graduation should be a time for inspiration, not controversy. And the fact that the speaker is usually accomplished makes the talk even more inspiring.

With that thought in mind, I spent much of this weekend scouring the internet for commencement speeches that provided sufficient amounts of wisdom and inspiration. At the end of this Musing, you will see the three speeches that I decided to share. As you watch them, you will notice that all have a thread in common - each discusses the importance of making mistakes/experiencing failure and learning from the experience.

I've chosen speeches that focus on learning from failure as opposed to "working hard" because so many resist "starting over" and finding their real passion. Recently, I had a long conversation with a young friend who is 30, married and with a new baby. He has a good job and outwardly seems to have a successful life…except he no longer enjoys his profession. Despite my encouragement to pursue his passion, he felt his family obligations made it impossible to change. Instead at the young age of 30, he's chosen to spend his working days pretty unsatisfied.

I recalled how both Scott and Bruce (yes, in the Starner Group) took the challenge and risk of starting over. Starting over, while exciting, was not easy for them and certainly a financial setback initially. And today, they are happy servicing all of you!

My nephew, Tad, had a great job with Goldman Sachs in Silicon Valley…but felt he was not on the right career path. Close to 30, he realized he wanted to be a doctor…and he would need years of training before any financial success. Today, he's a happy anesthesiologist. And you know …his path wasn't easy either. And finally, a college classmate, who always wanted to be a lawyer, went back to law school at the age of 60! Breaking into being a lawyer at an age when most are trying to retire was not an easy feat. Still, today she is very happy practicing law.

Today, graduation doesn't mean the end of learning…rather, it is the first step down the road of constant learning that is required to succeed in a fast changing world. To me, you can continue to learn in a field that doesn't make you happy…or you can restart and learn in a field that suits your passion.

Candidly, the speeches I have chosen to share with you are among the many I have shared before and read/watch every year. We are all humans and humans do fail. I continue to be inspired by how successful people manage failures …with courage and determination, they make good news out of bad news…make lemonade out of lemons, etc.

As you know, the Starner Group's mission statement includes delivering "dreams and wishes". I wish all of our new grads much success in life …and if for any reason, your career isn't as you dreamed…don't be afraid to challenge your purpose and find your passion. Take the risk to find happiness!

Now, as promised, links to three commencement speeches that inspire me…

1. Speech by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, on June 12, 2005 at Stanford University

2. Speech by J.K. Rowling, Author of the Harry Potter fantasy series, Speech at Harvard University, 2008

3. Speech by Naval Adm. William H. McRaven, Ninth commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, the University of Texas at Austin Class of 2014

| June 15th, 2017 – Happy Father's Day |

This Sunday, we have a special opportunity to appreciate and say "thanks" to our Dads. This year, my Daddy would have been 100 years old. I know that my father's philosophical bent, strong sense of morals, and commitment to family helped shape the person I am today and I will always be grateful for the lessons he taught me, that I have in turn, passed onto my children and grandchildren.

Sadly, on May 31st, Scott's father, Ronnie Weingarden, passed away at his home from complications associated with lymphoma. Ronnie was a kind, fun person, who was famous for his big smile. He was a great source of joy to all who knew him. To Ronnie, his 3 kids and 6 grandkids were everything and brought him immense joy. He will be greatly missed by his friends, family and for sure his grandkids. Scott and his family thank all of you for the words of kindness over the past few weeks.


From left to right: Ronnie, Scott, Dylan, & Jesse Weingarden

If your dad is still with you, we hope that you will have time to spend this Father's Day with him. If not, we hope you find a few moments to remember him and the lessons that he may have taught you during his life. If you are a Father yourself, we hope you take time to enjoy yourself in any way you please!

| April 7th, 2017 – 2017 Tax Season Takes a Vacation |

I hope that title got your attention! Of course, your taxes aren't really taking a vacation...but they are taking a long weekend.

Good news is you have a few extra days to file your taxes this year due to April 15th falling on Saturday. Tax filing deadline is April 18th. However, I am sure most of you have given your tax preparer all your papers and just waiting to see what you owe or if lucky to get a refund. In general, tax refunds will be less automatic and thus less speedy than in previous years to reduce sending refunds to identify thieves without more checking.

The Really Big News....TAX REFORM. We can't tell you what will pass but we can tell you what's being discussed ....and

The Starner Group is already thinking ahead to implications of Tax Reform. The Planning for Proposed Tax Changes a Raymond James white paper, provides insight into the areas of federal tax law that are subject to possible reform. It provides brief explanations of current tax law and recaps of tax reform proposals from the new administration and House Republicans, as well as insight from Raymond James thought leaders. Whatever is passed, we will keep you posted and discuss implications to each of you personally.

In the meantime.....

Monday begins Passover... we wish all observers a Happy Passover

Sunday, April 16th, is Easter... we wish all observers a Happy Easter

And more good news....on March 30 I was part of the 2017 Financial Times 400 Top Financial Advisors. To access the full, 12-page Financial Times special report, including the list of FT 400 advisors, please click here.

PS: Friday, April 14th, is Good Friday and our office will be closed

Changes in tax laws may occur at any time and could have a substantial impact upon each person's situation. While we are familiar with the tax provisions of the issues presented herein, as Financial Advisors of Raymond James & Associates we are not qualified to render advice on tax or legal matters. The FT 400 was developed in collaboration with Ignites Research, a subsidiary of the FT that provides specialized content on asset management. To qualify for the list, advisers had to have 10 years of experience and at least $300 million in assets under management (AUM). The FT then invited a list of just under 1,000 advisors to complete a survey used to obtain more information on the advisors practices. 400 qualified advisers were then scored on six attributes: AUM, AUM growth rate, compliance record, experience, industry certifications and online accessibility. AUM is the top factor, accounting for roughly 60-70 percent of the applicant's score. Additionally, to provide a diversity of advisors, the FT placed a cap on the number of advisors from any one state that's roughly correlated to the distribution of millionaires across the U.S. The ranking may not be representative of any one client's experience, is not an endorsement, and is not indicative of future performance. Neither Raymond James nor any of its Financial Advisors pay a fee in exchange for this award/rating. The FT is not affiliated with Raymond James.

| January 27th, 2017 – Reflections & Chinese New Year 2017 |

Tonight in Chinese communities around the world, families will begin the celebration of the Chinese Lunar New Year.

New Year, or the "Spring Festival" as it is known in China, is the longest and most important Chinese Holiday. The Chinese New Year 2017 begins on January 28.

For those who haven't read my New Years' musings in the past, a quick refresher: 

The Chinese zodiac is made up of 12 different signs (all animals). In addition to the 12 signs, the calendar also includes 5 elements (earth, metal, water, wood, and fire) which have a strengthening or moderating influence upon the signs. Hence, in total, the Chinese calendar goes in a 60 year cycle (12 signs multiplied by the 5 elements). This year, the place in the calendar and zodiac makes 2017 the year of the Fire Rooster.

If you have read my past year Musings, you know an important part of welcoming the New Year is to prepare for good luck and ward off bad luck. Today is the eve of the Chinese New Year....still an opportunity to make your luck! 

  • Celebrate with RED...wear red clothing, write poems on red paper and give children money in red envelopes. Why red? In China, red symbolizes fire which, according to legend, drives away bad luck. (The Starner Group's conference room is a lovely red with red candies for all who visit).
  • Clean your house and yourself today. Do all sweeping/dusting or hair washing before New Year's Day as there is fear of sweeping or washing away your good luck for the New Year.
  • Pay off your debts before the New Year!
  • Do not lend or cry on the New Year...as it is thought that anyone who lends or cries on the New Year will be lending or crying all year round. (this is how you keep complainers and children quiet)
  • Do not cut on New Year Day as you might cut away your good fortune
  • Welcome the DRAGON- the loud cymbals and drumming that comes along with the dragons are thought to chase away evil spirits as well.
  • Use fireworks galore - In the old days, bamboo was set on fire, the crackling flames are meant to fright the evil spirits. Modern day fireworks have taken the place of bamboo but are still thought to do the same thing.

Now, before we share predictions for what may happen this year, let's review some Past Rooster Years:

2005 Wood Rooster

  • 15 Feb: YouTube launched.
  • 27 Apr: First commercial flight of the Airbus A380.
  • 7 Jul: Bomb in London kills 52 people.
  • 23 Aug: Hurricane Katrina struck.
  • 22Nov: Angela Merkel becomes Germany's first female Chancellor.

1993 Water Rooster

  • First year of Bill Clinton's Presidency.
  • 26 Feb: World Trade Center bomb kills seven people.
  • 1 Nov: Maastricht Treaty on the EU comes into effect.
  • 30 Dec: The Vatican recognizes Israel.

1981 Metal Rooster

  • First year of Ronald Reagan's Presidency.
  • 14 Apr: The first space shuttle returns to earth.
  • 29 July: Prince Charles and Princess Diane's wedding.
  • 12 Aug: IBM introduces its first personal computer.
  • 3 Dec: The Sony PlayStation goes on sale.

1969 Earth Rooster

  • First year of Richard Nixon's Presidency.
  • 19 Feb: First test flight of the Boeing 747.
  • 7 Apr: Official birth of the Internet.
  • 21 Jul: Neil Armstrong becomes first man to walk on the moon.
  • 15 Aug: The Woodstock Festival kicks off.

Now for 2017 Fire Rooster - What to Expect

The Year of the Fire Rooster will be a powerful one, with no middle of the road when it comes to moving forward.

  • Make a good impression. This year, impressions count. You'll want to look your best and be clear on your intentions concerning love, money, and business.
  • Stick to practical and well-proven paths to ensure success, rather than risky ventures. The years of the Rooster are always marked by success for those who have been patient and worked hard on their projects or investments. This year they will be able to see the fruits of everything they have dedicated for their businesses to flow.
  • Do not slack. The Year of the Rooster promises much, but above all it calls for effort and hard work. Those who slack could feel the effects of the Rooster's beak! This is no year for 'easy money' or 'get rich quick' strategies. Instead, hard work will be the order of the day, although important growth will be seen during the year.
  • Watch for technological advances. Many will occur this year and they are set to become very influential.
  • Observe history being made. 2017 will witness multiple historic and regal events.
  • Mind the turbulent weather. The weather patterns seen in previous years unfortunately show no signs of abating. The last Rooster year resulted in one of the deadliest hurricanes ever seen, Katrina. 

For the individual, the Rooster year brings some good opportunities but success will not be easily won. This is no time to be half-hearted or trust to luck. In order to achieve your goals, you must put forth effort and be willing to work hard. As the Chinese proverb reminds us, 'Diligence leads to riches,' and diligence can produce some good rewards this year.

Check the Zodiac for your animal sign and see what's in store for you...and if you want to know more, give us a holler.

Great year for: Dragon, Rooster, Ox and Snake who with their patience, intelligence and methodology will be able to face almost everything that comes for these twelve months.

Good year for: Tiger and the Rat

Average year for: Pigs, Sheep and Monkeys depending on their actions

Complicated and potentially difficultyear for: Dog, Rabbit and Horse

Lastly, Click the link below to see what's going on in China .

China's New Year Mass Migration: Still Daunting, if a Little Less Crazy

Wishing you good health (Gong Hay) and Prosperity (fat choy)!!!

| January 13th, 2017 – Reflections & Happy 2017 |

We are already in mid-January and I'm still wishing everyone Happy New Year for 2017!

As I always do, I have been reflecting on the good and bad of the past year. We lost many famous and talented people, the most recent and dramatic being Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. I have also been thinking about Alvin Toffler, the futurist, who passed away in June at the age of 87. I've always been heavily influenced by reading...and nothing influenced me more in my thinking than Toffler's book "Future Shock" written in 1970. "Future Shock" was about the process of change. While change is a constant and part of life, Toffler conjectured that the rate of change would become so rapid that many would not be able to adapt as the change outstripped their comfort zone. More specifically, technology would be the largest instigator of change - and technology would evolve so rapidly that people would be overwhelmed and unable to cope - he labeled this over-stimulation "future shock." Different people would exhibit different symptoms ranging from anxiety to physical illness and violence and withdrawal. I accepted his premise that rapid change would become the norm...and that my success and well-being would be dependent upon learning to adapt, embrace and manage change.

These are some "Future shock" concepts that have stuck with me for all these years:

  • Knowledge would become the driving force behind powerful societies--more so even than labor or materials.
  • The illiterate of the future would not be the person who cannot read. It would be the person who does not know how to learn.
  • Technology would feed on itself...making more technology possible
  • Education would be a crucial factor for managing future shock successfully. Education is supposed to prepare children for the future. Giving children the skills of the past would not be sufficient in preparing them for the future. The purpose of the education system has always been to produce the kind of person that society needed. The goal of education is to create an individual with the ability to adapt to continual change and the ability to understand the pattern of future change.

Now, 46 years later...most of what Toffler foresaw has come true and perhaps the populist movement the world over is a reflection of the stress from "future shock". I would be interested in re-reading "Future Shock," though in all honesty, I am unlikely to do so - I have too many new books!

I am just celebrating my 36th year with Raymond James. You might ask...if I was so influenced by "Future Shock"...why stay with the same firm for 36 years? That does not sound like change. The fact is that RJ has managed to change and adapt while maintaining the "small firm" touch that our entire team believes is in the best interest of our clients. Candidly, adapting to all the new technologies and compliance is stressful work. The benefits, though, have been enormous. The challenge is to design systems that prepare us for change. Raymond James has done a pretty good job.

The New Year is not only a time for reflection, but also a time to make resolutions and share wisdom for the coming year. With this in mind, I will share a New Year investment tip from Warren Buffet. The "Oracle of Omaha" once told some business school students to imagine a skill that could raise their value by 50% if they improved it... would you believe...that one skill is public speaking.

As a young stock advisor, Buffett took a Dale Carnegie public-speaking course to overcome his fear. In a little known fact, Buffett dropped out of the course on his first try because he was afraid he'd be asked to speak up. He worked up his courage a second time and today proudly displays his Dale Carnegie certificate in his office.

Another expert adds: "As a leader--or as an advocate--public speaking is the key to unlocking empathy, stirring excitement, sharing knowledge and insights, and promoting a shared dream."

Next week starts with honoring Martin Luther King Day and the NYSE and Raymond James will be closed. Friday, is Inauguration Day....the beginning of some rapid changes.

Happy New Year!