The slow movement has its roots in the Slow Food movement. Born on the Spanish Steps of Rome, the Slow Food movement started out as one man’s reaction to a global fast food chain that wanted to open its doors near the famous Roman landmark. Carlo Petrini despised the notion of junk food being sold anywhere near his beloved Spanish Steps. Thanks to him, the concept of slow seeped its way into our global consciousness.

Tying food production back to local farming is a smart, and sustainable, thing to do. In an age of dioxin scandals and mass animal slaughtering, we have clinicalized the very thing that keeps us alive: food. We treat food as a cog in the massive economic system. It has to play a role like water and oil or any other natural resource you can think of. Produce massive amounts at the cheapest price, no matter the real cost (environmental or otherwise) behind it.

Slow money is a concept that promotes investments in local farming and the health of our local economies. This group has set a goal of mobilizing 1 million people to invest in their local food production before 2020. It is a noble cause and one I highly recommend you explore.

According to SlowMoney.org, the principles of slow money include:

I. We must bring money back down to earth.

II. There is such a thing as money that is too fast, companies that are too big, finance that is too complex. Therefore, we must slow our money down — not all of it, of course, but enough to matter.

III. The 20th Century was the era of Buy Low/Sell High and Wealth Now/Philanthropy Later—what one venture capitalist called “the largest legal accumulation of wealth in history.” The 21st Century will be the era of nurture capital, built around principles of carrying capacity, care of the commons, sense of place and non-violence.

IV. We must learn to invest as if food, farms and fertility mattered. We must connect investors to the places where they live, creating vital relationships and new sources of capital for small food enterprises.

V. Let us celebrate the new generation of entrepreneurs, consumers and investors who are showing the way from Making A Killing to Making a Living.

VI. Paul Newman said, “I just happen to think that in life we need to be a little like the farmer who puts back into the soil what he takes out.” Recognizing the wisdom of these words, let us begin rebuilding our economy from the ground up, asking:

* What would the world be like if we invested 50% of our assets within 50 miles of where we live?

* What if there were a new generation of companies that gave away 50% of their profits?

* What if there were 50% more organic matter in our soil 50 years from now?

I ask you: what if we left this Earth in better shape than we found it? Give back to the soil that feeds you. Today.

Other resources:

www.SlowMoney.org

www.CompassNaturalMarketing.com

Inquires into the Nature of Slow Money

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The Beast of Multitasking

January 16, 2010

The trader nervously tapped his pen on his desk as he viewed three monitors seemingly at once. Driven by his own ambition, he attempted to absorb the thousands of data points coming at him every day, until his mind became so jumbled that he made a vital mistake that cost his client millions.

It is a scene that plays out more often than we care to realize.

People who have a hard time filtering information are often fearful of missing out. Wall Street traders, in particular, are often haunted by the thought of missing the ‘big fish’. They become distracted, bouncing from one realm to the other. The good news is help is on the way in the form of one psychologist who has designed a way to sharpen their focus in eight simple steps.

Sports psychologist and peak performance coach Dr. Doug Hirschhorn works with Wall Street executives to help them improve their performance. In his new book 8 Ways to Great: Peak Performance on the Job and in Your Life, Dr. Doug outlines the eight performance principles he uses to coach today’s front-line performers in the toughest corporate jobs.

“Time is [a trader’s] only commodity,” he told me in a Skype interview. “Their number one priority is to make money and to generate substantial profits.” When feeling time-starved, people tend to make rash decisions based on emotion, not information.

Self-awareness is the first step to change, he said. He examines the trader’s personality to see where his or her strengths lie. “I help them slow their thinking process down,” he admitted. While many of them are moving a mile a minute, he helps them identify what they do best, then counsels them to concentrate on only that thing. “If you are an expert in oil, don’t trade corn,” he quipped. The key to success lies in focusing on one thing at a time.

Kill the multitasking beast. But how?

Because we were on video conference mode, he gave me the perfect visual to end the multitasking nightmare so many of us engage in. He grabbed a fistful of pens. “When I toss them into the air, try to catch them.” Obviously, I couldn’t, but I got the picture. Then he suggested I concentrate on only one of the pens. When he does this demonstration during his presentations, inevitably the participant manages to catch the one pen because the person is focused on that one thing.

That’s why multitasking doesn’t work. We try to grab all the pens at once, thereby dropping them all. We are driven by the fear of missing out and then being held accountable when things don’t work out.

“The phrase I can’t is merely avoidance of accountability,” he admitted. People who attempt to multitask are really avoiding accountability. The reasoning is if you concentrate on 100 things at once, it is easier to hide your mistakes.

The power of slow provides us with an opportunity to slow down our thinking to examine our strengths and to play to them as best we can. When we learn to delegate, we free up the time it takes to grab the ‘right pen’~ every time.

Simplify Your Finances

January 8, 2010

This blog is about mindful living. When we slow down to see the Big Picture, we realize what’s truly important to us.

Our financial future is one of those things. Yet many of us do not take the time to think about it until it is often too late. Here’s where the Power of Slow can really come in handy.

Bryan Link is the CEO of SimpliFi, a free savings calculation tool that spells out exactly the amount you need to save each month. He suggests the top five things people can do now to simplify their finances this year. The Power of Slow talks a lot about slaying the inner pig dog (inneren Schweinehund) that says now is never a good idea. Procrastination is the best way to kill your financial dreams. (See “The High Cost of Procrastination“)

Bryan writes:

1)      Develop a financial plan that maps out your financial goals.  If you put together a written financial plan, you increase your chances of achieving your goals by 250%, so this is the best place to start. 

Editor’s Note: You can’t get there if you don’t know where you are going. Build a plan, even a small one, to reach some of your financial goals this year. One of our goals is to rebuild our entire wrap-around porch. Surprising sources of income have shown themselves as a result of our intention. Sometimes you have to build it so they will come!

2)  Develop a monthly spending plan that can help you achieve your financial goals–both short and long-term.  Knowing how your going to spend your money before you do it is the key to financial success.

Editor’s Note: This is a hard one for many people. Tracking hidden spending such as that quick coffee or an impulse purchase confronts us with our habits. Be rigorous in your tracking for a month to see where the money flows. It can be fun if you treat it like a treasure hunt. You’ll find all kinds of income that can be redirected if you know where it’s going in the first place.

Once you’ve completed #1 and #2, then:

3)   Set up automatic withdrawals for your savings and investment accounts, and have them hit at the first of the month (or whenever you get paid).  This “pay yourself first” approach is really the only effective way to enforce savings discipline.  If you wait until the end of the month to save, you’ll find there’s never any money left.

Editor’s Note: This one is key. It is amazing how contractable your bank account can be when you have an automatic draft going to your savings account. Consider it your own personal payment to yourself. You aren’t spending it. You’re paying YOU!

4)   Use cash for discretionary purchases like drinks/snacks, entertainment, and low-cost dining.  Studies have shown that we have a harder time parting with cash, so if you force yourself to use cash for these purchases, you will spend less.  EVEN BETTER:  use the envelope method in conjunction with your monthly spending plan for these purchases.  It works like this:  budget a specific weekly amount of cash for these purchases, then each week, withdraw that amount, put it in an envelope, and only use what’s in the envelope for that week.  When the cash is gone, no more spending until the next installment.

Editor’s note: I do this in particular with the children’s items. It helps me have an overview of where the cash is going. A field trip here, a pair of soccer shoes there…

5)   Increase your giving to a charity that helps those less fortunate–and find a way to volunteer there as well.  Both of these actions will increase your happiness and make you feel more grateful for the blessings you have in your life.

Editor’s note:  It not only gives you a great feeling throughout the year, come tax time you’ll get that warm feeling all over again!