03/31/2014 – Our weekly perspective on the economy

And yet another quarter passes. It’s been a cold, dreary quarter on the weather front. Equity markets have generally come down since 12/31/13. The DJIA was at 16,576.66 on this day. As of Friday, March 28, 2014, the DJIA stands at 16,323.06. It’s a small drop; some may say it’s inconsequential. However, it speaks to the public face of this market. And that face is a rather dower, sluggishly optimistic one.

The first week of this quarter brings us some of our favorite statistics. The first is the ISM – the Institute of Supply Management. The Chicago Purchase Managers Index is also on tap. Last week saw largely mixed economic news.

This is a great time – the end of the quarter – to review the macroeconomic environment as well as your microeconomic circumstances. Whether you are gauging lift in terms of sales or gathering data for your ALLL management, this is a great time to assess and analyze.

As always, our economic calendar is provided by Marketwatch.com and can be found here.

03/24/2014 – Our weekly perspective on the economy

So, we meandered a bit last week. Leprechauns and limericks; beer and cheese. Well, we’re back. And it’s time to talk about the economy. This week the economic calendar (which you can find here, compliments of Marketwatch.com) has some gritty material for you to consider. From consumer confidence and housing prices, it looks like it could be a mixed week. It feels like we are getting nowhere fast with this economy.

I daresay that we are too focused on the outcomes. We have become an economic powerhouse fueled by hope and pixels, which I think is a bit naïve.  I’m not against globalization. I’m not for it. However, we need to seek a higher ground in the method to our madness, the path of our revival. As a nation, we must break away from the role of arbitrager and actually do some work. Make things. Think of things. Build for a future.

Reconn Radio: Podcast #15 – Week of 03/17/14


A Special Guest, St. Patrick’s Day, and the movie “Da”

This week, we shift gears a bit and talk with old friends, discuss sports, and turn Irish for the day. Our special guest is one of my dearest friends in the world, Dwayne Fulmer. As our Man on the Street, Dwayne give us his perspective on banking from the consumer’s point of view. Plus, we consider Milwaukee sports and Martin Sheen in the movie “Da.” Aren’t you green with envy? We thought so.



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Lucky Charms


Green beer, four-leaf clovers, and leprechauns are on center stage as we all become Irish for a day on St. Patrick’s Day.

Although my married name of Bumgarner keeps it a secret, my family tree is actually rooted firmly in Irish soil. As a child, the seventeenth day of March brought with it the rollicking sound of the Irish Rovers from my dad’s stereo turntable and milk made green overnight in the refrigerator by the magical touch of a sneaky leprechaun. It was a day to be proud of our family heritage and eat the requisite corned beef and cabbage. Forgetting to wear green that day was practically a mortal sin, or, at the very least, painful, because you would be pinched all day long.

Some look forward to the whimsy of days like St. Patrick’s Day because it breaks up the monotony of the average day. And who doesn’t love a good Reuben sandwich with the leftover corned beef? Others find the minor holidays a mere distraction from the work of the day and pay them no notice at all.

It’s true that as adults we know that the leprechaun’s pot of gold is as elusive as a winning lottery ticket. By now we pretty much understand that we make our own luck (no matter how difficult that may be to accept on any given day) and that horseshoes and rabbits’ feet are merely symbols of our desire for a favorable outcome. In fact, one of the Irish blessings currently hanging in my home is this one:

“Life is like a cup of tea, it’s all in how you make it.”

There is no magical rainbow that leads us to riches, but that doesn’t stop me from taking a second glance at a clover patch…just in case.

As you go about your day today, here’s an Irish blessing for you. It’s one of my favorites.

May those who love us, love us;
And for those who don’t love us,
May God turn their hearts;
And if He doesn’t turn their hearts,
May He turn their ankles,
So we will know them by their limping!


Here’s to a great St. Patrick’s Day to you and yours. Slainte!


Reconn Radio: Podcast #14 – Week of 03/10/2014


Leadership Through Life’s Likes and Dislikes, “The King’s Speech”, and the Economy

And we’re off on another adventure. This week, we discuss the economic items of interest. See our blog post on the same topic here. Today, we also delve into the age old issue of likes and dislikes and how to lead in spite of them. Finally. we entertain ourselves by reveling in the message of the Oscar-winner, “The King’s Speech” and its place in your messaging to those around you.



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6 Reasons to Read this Post (“Holy Hand Grenade” included)

There really are not six reasons. There are three and they come along in a bit. If  you feel I’ve brought you under the guise of you receiving some great cosmic advise, then you should stay. It’s true. It’s great. It’s cosmic. Yet, it’s simple and elegant.  However, I’m really a bit turned off by all the numbers-oriented baiting out there. On one page tonight, I found the following ads:

  • “10 Things…”
  • “7 Signs…”
  • “5 Apps…”

I’ve done it. I wrote a piece back in the 2000′s – yes, way back when – that included 6 Ps and discussed strategic retail delivery. It’s helpful having these numbers and the words beside them. There is no element of surprise, but who needs surprises. I want exact science and not art. I need five things. Not four. Not six. Let the counting of the number be five. Now, for those of you that recall, the lovely folks over at Monty Python introduced us to the Holy Hand Grenade to help us with our counting. It’s most amusing.

There are three things that I would like you to focus on in the coming weeks (this is the moment of great cosmic advice…literally):

Concentration – be in the here and now

Consistency – focus; purpose first

Cooperation – people not profits

It’s easy enough to remember. The challenge is in the execution. We are almost done with 1Q2014. The time to pull out your plan has come and gone as it should be with you at every management meeting, every board gathering. The time to apply the three elements is now.



03/10/2014 – Our weekly perspective on the economy

The pre-post-Cold-War-Number-2 economy continues its murky meandering through the fabric of our lives. I really don’t think we are in for another Cold War. I do think that some would like to dance that dance. On both sides.

But, there’s nothing like a good economic uprising to shift the attention away from Cold War to good times. Unfortunately, we just can’t seem to find our stride. Last week’s numbers were mixed at best. This week, we have CPI and the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index at the top of our list of what to watch. I’d like to think we’ll start seeing a trend, one way or another. Now, that’s something to get bullish about.

The economic calendar is provided by Marketwatch.com and can be found here. We always consider the macroeconomy, whether we are out fishing or engaged with the best of the best of our clients.  Reach out to Beth using our handy dandy contact form so she can understand just how we can help you. It’s that simple.

Some enchanted evening in a high school auditorium

I believe that all of us are created with a  purpose in mind. Last evening, I had the opportunity to visit my daughter’s future high school to see where she will start, in earnest, her journey to discover her true purpose. It’s a big deal, right? Well, not so much. I mean, we’ve all been to high school. We sat through the orientations. We listened to the merciless drone of the administration and staff. Why is it such a shock? We’re all getting older. All of our kids are getting older. Times they are a changing, n’est-ce-pas?

I regret being so negative. It ultimately turned into a very spirited presentation about what the kids have to look forward to for the next four years. The PTO presentation at the beginning notwithstanding, I was generally impressed. I know there is a focus on STEM (for those of you living under a rock, and I was one of you until about 18 hours ago, that’s science, technology, engineering, and math) and a focus on testing. We are compulsive scorers. We’re always keeping score. I digress.

I was happy to hear the English lead discuss logic, reasoning, and argument. I was elated to hear about the art program. People need to be able to think their way out of a wet paper bag. As you hire and train and retrain, seek out players that can think and can realize a purpose for themselves and your institution.

PS – I do not wish that I was back in high school. Those chairs in the auditorium are darn narrow.


Reconn Radio: Podcast #13 – Week of 03/03/2014


The Economy, Technology Integration & The Princess Bride

And we’re off. This week, we discuss the economic items of interest. See our blog post on the same topic here. Our special guest is Rick Summer, Senior Equity Analyst, Internet and Technology, with Morningstar. You can read more about his musings on equities at his Morningstar home here, or follow him @rsummer. Rick’s views are his and his alone. Finally, we talk about perseverance and the use of the intellect with “The Princess Bride” as our backdrop.


To listen to more of our podcasts, then please click here.

03/03/2014 – Our weekly perspective on the economy

It seems like just a month ago I discussed the ISM (Institute of Supply Management Index) and its unexpected downward push. Well, that’s because it was a month ago that I  discussed the ISM. This week, the consensus forecast suggests a slight bump up in the ISM. This is out today at 10:00. Along with this bit of news, we find ourselves with another Beige Book updated from our friends at the Federal Reserve. It’s always a good read. Look for it on Wednesday.

One thing to watch is the impact of all this weather on things such as consumer spending and consumer credit. I am certain there will be an impact. A more important aspect of this is if the weather will have an intermediate impact on productivity and manufacturing. I believe it will. The geopolitical issues we face are not helping matters. With other data, such as consumer confidence and GDP coming out later in the month, executive teams  and boards should look to incorporate indicators into their monthly and quarterly updates, including such things as the QEF for their ALLL on the financial side and fundraising targets on the non-profit front. As you know, GDP took a haircut last week. Will it continue?

As always, our economic calendar is provided by Marketwatch.com and can be found here. If you need help preparing for the future while commanding excellence today, drop Beth a line by using our handy dandy contact form. She is a great listener.

Have a great week!