Sarang Ahuja | Finance

Leader, Financial Expert, Game Changer

Category: business (Page 2 of 6)

The One Piece of Advice for all Millennials

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No matter whom you ask, a majority of the general public wants to feel financially secure. The only problem is that there are only a few individuals who are willing to do what is absolutely necessary to create it the necessary steps for a financially healthy future. For most case scenarios, it comes down to that mentality and overall strategy that helps shape not just a person’s professional trajectory, but also an individual’s personal finance. To put it in an even greater context, the lack of drive can be due to a strong ‘subconscious’ disconnect between desire and action. This generally happens because many people feel complacent or apathetic about their overall career or financial situation that they decide not to take action. Whatever is the case, make sure you do not allow this to happen to you. One thing you should always keep in mind is your future. What you do today can have a significant impact on your life tomorrow. To help you on your path, you need to take that action.

Now to take action, it usually requires a strong internal understanding of where you currently are and where you want to be. By creating these tangible goals, you will be able to establish the overarching steps and objectives necessary to keep you on track in the best possible way. Start doing this by evaluating your career. For many millennials, they make the mistake of thinking their first job is just a job. While I can never predict what is in store for your future, you should accumulate the necessary skills and business-oriented mentality to leverage for your next job or future promotion. By developing and fostering your own professional skills, you are paving a path that is essential for your financial success.

As you continue to grow, you want to make sure you are cognizant of the values and importance of money. One of the biggest mistakes millennials and young professionals make is that they lack the strong foundational understanding of saving. Like many millennials today, you probably doubt the idea that you can save, live, and breathe easy with student loan debt and bills piling every minute of the day. While it is true that student debt can restrain you from your financial goals, it does not mean that it is impossible. To start, begin figuring out how to divide your monthly income way. Remember, some things you need, others you want, and the few are just dreams. Know your limitations. That type of mentality will help prevent any chances of overspending on discretionary items or under-saving for important investment purchases. In addition, try to find opportunities where you can increase your savings. While it may be difficult to conceptualize this, especially with an entry-level salary, you need to understand that you will not be in that particular position forever. Knowing that will help you make specific decisions, even educational decisions like graduate school, on your journey for wealth.

Now to fully grasp control of your finances, it is imperative that you create a plan and establish auto payments for your debt and other expenses. In addition, try and utilize this with your savings itself. Having that type of plan will not only control your debt, but also reduce your temptation to spend an entire paycheck. For many young professionals, they have the tendency to spend on lavish and unnecessary items. Having these systems in place will control any urges and put you on the direct path in establishing your financial future.

While this may seem overwhelming, as it should be, try and educate yourself on the on-goings of personal finance. Read particular books or articles to keep you up to date on the various products out there. Try and even see if there is anyone at your company to speak about the particular financial options that are offered to you. Remember, knowledge is power. Today’s knowledge has the opportunities you are looking for. Control it and you will be able to gain more opportunities and advancement for your future.

Everything you need to know about the Brexit

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On June 23rd, 2016, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. While the actual cessation of membership in the EU will unlikely to happen before 2018, the news itself has led many investors, especially those in the United States to sell their stocks in fear of a plummeting market.

While there have been various talks about Britain leaving the European Union in the past, it was hard to conceptualize that the actual act may be put into place. The referendum, a vote in which everyone of voting age can take part in, was held on June 23rd where the ‘leave’ won by 52% to 48%. The referendum turnout was 71.8%, with more than 30 million people voting. But to understand the overall gravity of this move, we have to understand the importance of the European Union.

The European Union, often known as the EU, is an economic and political partnership involving twenty-eight European countries. It began after World War II to foster an efficient and effective economic co-operation, with the idea that countries that trade together are more likely to avoid going to war with one another. Since World War II, the EU has grown to become a single market, allowing goods and people to move around as if the member states were one single country. This was also attributed with the EU’s own currency, the Euro where it is heavily and traditionally used by its members.

Now for the U.K. to leave the EU, it has to invoke an agreement called Articles 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which gives the two sides two years to agree on the terms of the split. While the U.K. government itself has campaigned against leaving the EU, warning the Brexit would kill U.K. jobs and plunge the country into a recession and create currency turbulence, the people and the powers above have made it adamantly clear about the split.

As for the economic warning for the Brexit, there was a dramatic fall in the value of the pound against the dollar and in share prices in the immediate aftermath of the vote. Britain also lost its top AAA credit rating, meaning the cost of government borrowing will be higher. While international relations and investments are still up in the air, the share prices in the U.K. had seemed to recover. Still, the overall ramifications this can have are something that the general public cannot ignore. Not only has the value of the pound have fallen greatly, but also the day-to-day spending impact is likely to be more significant. Even if the pound regains some of its value, currency experts have already expected it to remain at least 10% below where it was on June 23rd. Now the price rises may not kick in immediately.

While many people are asking if there can be a second referendum, the chances for that voting to happen seem highly unlikely. As for now, all we can do is watch and wait to see the over impacts Brexit can have on the rest of the world.

Failure, Life’s Greatest Lessons

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The road to success can be long and arduous. As a young professional, you will face a variety of different obstacles. But the one biggest obstacle that we will all face in life is the lesson of failure.

When it comes to failure, these moments often carry a negative connotation with them. And why wouldn’t they? In most cases, you are often found at your lowest, nursing a bruised ego to move on from the frustration, disappointment, and demoralization of a situation. As much as it may seem hopeless right now, you have to look at these disappointing moments as windows of opportunity. Many people have even gone as far as to say that failure is really the greatest teacher of them all. While it may be hard now, understanding, internalizing, and accepting these situations for something greater than what they are will allow you to grow both personally and professionally in the best way possible.

Now to do this, you need to see these disappointing moments as life lessons. As difficult as it may be, framing these incidences in this manner will allow you to learn and uncover those hidden teachable moments so that you can not just move on, but also grow in a bigger and better way. To help you deduce what exactly those lessons are and how they can help improve your chances of future success, I have provided various guidelines so that you can understand, plan, evaluate, and execute later on down the road.

Evaluate the Situation

Every young professional needs to understand that success can only come from failure. Much like any inopportune situation, failures and downfalls set our expectation for success. It is through those situations where you are able to evolve personally and professionally within your trade. To help alleviate the pains of failure, you need to see failure as it is. Start by evaluating the situation. Ask yourself those overarching questions. What happened? What did you do? What could you have done to prevent this? By analyzing the moment in this holistic manner, you will be able to figure out the various weaknesses and flaws that you can improve upon within the future. Utilize those low situations as experiences or opportunities for change. This will allow you to expand your knowledge and embrace the situation in a more positive manner.

Assume Responsibility

Like it or not, the blame game will always persist. No one likes to truly admit fault, especially if it is a big one. But in order to grow, you need to accept the moment and assume responsibilities for your failure. Once you have assumed the responsibilities of your mistakes, you will be able to leverage your negatives as an asset and tool in how to improve your day-to-day operations within your job. That reflective portion of analyzing and accepting said-particular mishaps can provide you the necessary steps in preventing the failure from happening again. As stated before, you want to utilize this as a learning experience. If you were brave enough to risk it in the first place, you should be confident enough to accept the mistake as it stands.

Create a Plan

Once you have understood and accepted your failure, you want to make sure you are moving in a progressively better way. In order to professionally develop and grow from your failure, you want to create a plan. For novice young professionals, the first failure will always be the most painful and regrettable. The process makes you not only question your vision and goals for your company, but also question your abilities as a person. When this happens, you need to accept, plan, and move on. When planning, think of specific overarching goals that you want to accomplish. These goals will allow you to create specific tangible steps that can help you set your sights on success.

Put into Action

To fully move on, it is imperative that you create action out of this entire process. Thinking is easy. Acting is difficult. It is the ability to put your thoughts, your concepts, and your dreams into something incredible. Use your failures to motivate you. Use them to spark innovation. Whatever is the case; use those moments to create action.

Leadership and Management, Two Sides of the Same Coin

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Leadership is encapsulated in both an individual’s talent and energy. Through their knowledge, their skill-set, their experience, and their reservation on the job, these strong and talent individuals can inspire and ignite the necessary passion needed to cultivate a rich and efficient working environment. But what happens when you do not have that vibrant personality to spark ingenuity and passion? What happens when you do not have that organizational skill-set to manage the various logistics within the day-to-day? No matter how you slice it, leadership and management will always be necessary for success.

In the business world, leadership and management go hand in hand. As much as they differ qualities and objectives, they are, essentially, two sides of the same coin. In the grand scheme of things, they are necessarily linked. As much as they stand separate, they continue to complement each other by solving problems and strategizing new and creative ideas for success. Put it in this perspective; management administers, while leadership innovates.

But what makes these two characteristics out? Is one trait better than the other?

Perhaps there was a time when the calling of the manager and that of the leader could be separate. In fact, today, one of the most commonly used buzzer words within the corporate sector has been, and will continue to be, ‘leadership.’ But with the way business works, any successful business owner will tell you that if you want to run your business right, you need to have both a strong leader and an efficient manager to get your team on board. Having both skill sets will allow you to direct your team to your company vision in the most effective way possible.

So what is leadership? While it has become widely popular term, we cannot overlook the power that this characteristic has for a person. For leadership, we are talking about the ability to communicate, inform, and inspire action. That idea to believe in a goal is something that is incredibly difficult to cultivate, especially in the workplace. To do this effectively, many great leaders are incredibly transparent and honest with their employees. That, in turn, builds a sense of integrity and trust that continues to inspire your employees on the journey that you are taking them on. In addition to honesty, many great leaders are long-term thinkers. The ability to create strong, tangible, and viable goals is something that will constantly play a role in a leader’s success within the future. But the most important skill set of a leader is their ability to communicate. Communicating across a variety of departments will always be a sought out ability by every business firm and organization. The reason why is that a strong line of communication can handle any task given to them.

Now, as great as it is having those qualities and traits as a leader, none of it can be possible without strong and effective management. With management, it is more about administering task and making sure the day-to-day operations and logistics are happening, as they should. In order to be a strong, effective, and consistent manager, you need to be able to execute your goals. While it is great, as a leader, to have these overarching goals, all of it would be for nothing if you did not have a clear and strategic roadmap to follow and complete for your employees. In addition to strong and strategic planning, a strong manager needs to have the ability to direct. During the day-to-day, things will pop up. Your job will be to handle those tasks, review resources when needed, and anticipate future problems or hurdles for you and your employees. Much of this will require strong organizational skills, effective communication, and focused and processed management. Without these skillsets, a dream will continue to be a dream.

So, if you are looking to take things to the next level, make sure you find that game changer that has both the attributes of a manager and the vision and mentality of a leader. By framing your process in this way, your hunt for your next supervisor, director, or senior partner will be that much easier and beneficial for the success of your business.

The Brilliance of a Summer Intern

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‘They hopefully arrive without battle scars, judgmental opinions, negativity, sarcasm or jadedness. The glass for each of them is not only half full, it is overflowing with optimism and excitement about the future.”

Starting this summer, many private sector businesses and nonprofit organizations will have a new crop of interns beginning their summer internship programs. As new as these novices maybe to the overall business world, their excitement and energy is something that incredibly admired by managers, supervisors, and CEOs alike.

For starters, these youthful go-getters are of course the brightest among their peers. But what make them stand out are not simply their resumes. Instead, it is their overarching professional goals that set them a part from the crowd. This, in turn, personifies their optimism and willingness to learn each and everyday as an intern during these next ten-to-fifteen weeks.

Now for these particular internships, these young professionals view this as the very beginning of a long and successful career. They see every task, every conversation, and every interaction and experience as a window of opportunity to grow and develop both personally and professionally. But what truly set them apart are the three statements below:

  1. They listen eagerly.
  2. They take risk.
  3. They build and instill confidence for the future.

For many businesses and companies, finding this type of high-level caliber is not just a challenge, but also a constant battle each and everyday. The reason why is that having the ability to listen actively, take risk, and personify confidence in every task that you do can be a daunting experience. But for these remarkable interns, this is simply second nature.

When it comes to listening, they are not just there to hear the on-going operations of the day-to-day. Instead, they actively listen to learn the tricks of the trade in order to build up their own professional skills later down the line. By absorbing various advice and tips from other professionals, especially those higher up in the hierarchy, they will be able to refine various steps in reaching their professional goals.

But listening is not just the only key factor. Instead, taking a risk and putting your knowledge into action is what can define who you will be after graduation. At many of these internships, these individuals are not looked at as children. Instead, they are seen as the future of the company. Because of their value, various supervisors and managers want to make sure they are cultivating a strong foundation for them to return in the future. By taking a risk and assuming more responsibilities, these neophytes can build both a stronger relationship and work experience each and everyday. But that type of execution cannot be done without the confidence and belief in themselves. At many of these roles such as a summer analyst or a summer associate, many of these individuals will be asked to go beyond their comfort zone and perform task that surpass their job description. While some may falter at the idea, many of these interns flourish with confidence in learning and executing to the best of their abilities.

With that said, summer will always be an exciting time for many big businesses, especially those within the financial sector. In football, you have the college season and the draft. For businesses, we have the summer and fall applications. The only question you can ask you is this: What can you do to cultivate this type of talent?

Basic Income in the United States

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Depending on who you ask, you’ll get some varied numbers as to how much the United States as a nation spends each year on welfare and other systems of poverty relief. Some sources claim is about $1 trillion, while others say the figure is significantly lower. Regardless of which side you’re inclined to agree with, the numbers are staggering.

Amidst the trials and tribulations that surround the economic situation the United States has found itself in recently, one question has begun to pick up momentum as of late.

What would happen if the United States adopted the system of basic income?

The short answer is that, well, no one knows for sure.

The long answer takes a little more explanation.

According to BasicIncome.org, the term is defined as “an income unconditionally granted to all on an individual basis, without means test or work requirement.” Boiled down, basic income (also called “unconditional basic income” or “universal basic income” is simply money paid to citizens each month simply for living. Basic income doesn’t differentiate between the rich and the poor, the employed and the unemployed or demographic data; it is simply a check made out in your name each month courtesy of Uncle Sam.

The idea seems completely nonsensical at first glance. Giving out free money to people won’t solve their problems. The pervasive idea that seems to follow welfare and unemployment-aid recipients is that they’re either lazy, addicted to drugs/alcohol or simply gaming the system. The idea goes that giving those people free money would feed their habits, not the mouths of their children. However, studies have shown that this isn’t necessarily true; people do in fact work and attempt to provide for themselves and their families, even when they are on financial benefit programs.

Often, this money comes from taxes on the public and is integrated into a country’s already existing social welfare systems (medicaid, food stamps, etc). This raises the ire of many opposers to the idea of a basic income, as the idea of paying directly into someone else’s pockets tends not to sit well with many people.

Small scale basic income rollouts have been largely successful. Minor pilot programs have been run in impoverished countries around the world, giving unconditional monetary aid to those who needed it the most in Brazil and Kenya. GiveDirectly, a charity started in 2009, provides directly cash deposits to people living in Uganda and Kenya.

No country yet provides a universal basic income to its citizens by any means, though Switzerland has recently tossed around the idea. Because of the large cost, nearly the entirety of the Swiss government has rejected the idea as too expensive and unrealistic.

With limited research and hard experimentation on the subject a basic income rollout in the United States seems entirely unlikely. The radical idea does, however, have the support of many European citizens, where the idea of basic income has been in the news for some time now.

It’s easy to see why the United States might not be the best country to launch a basic income pilot program. The large population and comparatively large unemployment rate don’t bode well for a basic income implementation any time in the near future.

Though the idea is radical and, more than likely entirely unrealistic, it’s worth keeping a close eye on countries like Switzerland as the idea is passed through the government.

The Millennial Complex of Personal Finance

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In today’s world, millennials are looked as the pioneers of their times. They are better educated than their predecessors, more ethnically diverse, and more economically active. But for many of these exceptional young professionals, they have a troubling grasp of reality and fantasy where ‘what their financial situations actually are’ completely differs to ‘where they want their lives to be.’ In the grand scheme of things, this type of mentality continues to cripple the financial savings of many of these millennial’s personal finance. In fact, with such economical uncertainties, such as under employment, underpay, student debt, this generation’s lack of concern with their financial future continues to higher their current financial health and economical aspirations and security each and everyday.

To examine this further, we of course have to evaluate their social, living, and career situations in order to have a full grasp of the problem that continues to plague young professionals. It is not a surprise that many college graduates want to live a more attractive cities such as San Francisco, New York City, Boston, or Miami. As desirable as these cities are, they, in themselves, are incredibly intangible for many millennials to live in. For many of these cities, the cost of living is astronomical. To just live comfortably, many young professionals will have to be making $65K or $70K annually. And with under employment still above 9 percent in 2015, as well as underpaid wages, this ‘lifestyle’ is clearly unrealistic.

And yet, many college graduates are still willing to risk their financial futures for the taste of the lifestyle. Even with student loans, high living expenses, and low wages, many millennials continue to believe that they are the outlier statistic that can beat the odds year after year. As optimistic as that sounds, we have to live in the world of facts. Today, good jobs are rare and the jobs that are out there are incredibly competitive to get. Even with a strong college degree from one of the best schools in the nation, you are still pinned up against another individual with a Master in Science or Masters in Business Administration with an even stronger work background.

Now these facts are not meant to be grim. Instead they are meant to shed a light on the world that we are living today. For example, with more poorly paid retail and hospitality jobs reporting employment for individuals with college degrees, there clearly needs to be a change in what millennials can and cannot do in these cities. In fact, beyond the wages and necessary debt, cities like New York City and San Francisco are clearly impractical for someone making $45K or lower to live in. Going beyond rent, each city has become more expensive. That is the reality. From food, happy hours, and other social activities, millennials and young professionals are continuously being blinded by what they should do (such as saving), than what they are actually doing (spending).

To help with this situation, make sure you have a strong grasp and understanding of your financial situation. Knowing your personal finances from your total net profit to even your future expenses can help salvage a strong economical future in just a few short months. While this may take some time, and potential sacrifice, it will be worth it in the end.

Ask yourself these Questions before you go to Graduate School

 

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For many young professionals, especially those in the private sector, attaining a Master of Business Administration or Masters in Finance degree may seem as the only viable option to help bolster and proliferate their career opportunities up within professional hierarchy. While some millennials will make the jump because it seems like the only option, I would advise you to spend an ample amount of time and research to reflect and internalize your decision before making any type of commitment moving forward. At the end of the day, applying to a graduate program takes a lot of effort. In fact, many of these one to two year programs require a large investment of your time, your work experience, and of course your money. Because of this, it is important that you ask yourself a variety of questions to help narrow and clarify your professional trajectory when you graduate your program. Having these tangible and concrete overarching long-term goals will allow you to pick the right program that will best benefit and shape your professional career.

To start, you want to ask the holy grail of questions that you will be consistently asked throughout your application, essays, and interviews: Why do you want to go to graduate school? While this question may seem simple in it’s phrasing, the overall answer should be complex and lengthy.  If you find that you are just reaching for particular facts or you are looking into these programs because they are your only option, I would advise you to stop and ask yourself what you would like to accomplish in the next five to ten years. For many of these elite programs, they are expecting you to have a very well thought answer that is personal and relatable to these specific programs. Yes, job security and networking can be reasons why you are intrigued in an MBA or Masters in Finance, but at the end of the day, the admissions team is looking for you to go beyond the standard and personify a journey of what led you to their perspective program.

Once you are able to relate your own personal and professional goals to why you want to enter said-program, you then want to have a clear yet hypothetical understanding of what you would like to do post-program. For many candidates in MBA or Masters in Finance programs, they have already had a diverse and successful career. In fact many people would question why they would leave their secure and prolific jobs to go to graduate school. To help answer this, your response should once again be personal. At the end of the day, your decision to continue your educational career with a master in business or finance is rooted deep within your goals. To further shape it, try thinking of various organizations, firms, or careers you could potentially see yourself in. This will once again narrow the scope to particular schools that can fit your personal preferences both personally and professional. Take for example the company Coca Cola. Because the infamous drink company has deep roots with Emory, you may want to consider their programs than schools in California. In addition, if you find that you want to be living in South Florida or New York City, you may cut out or add new schools that have a direct network that can feed you into these cities. Whatever is the case, having a strong understanding of where and what you want to do five years, ten years, or twenty years down the line can help populate or narrow your list in the best possible way.

From there, you want to of course understand your own personal and professional strengths and weaknesses. Ask yourself what were your greatest professional successes and what were your biggest weaknesses within the working sector. For these programs, they are not just looking for any type of individual. Instead, they are looking for someone who is a leader and a game changer that can handle any obstacle life throws at them. By having a more internal understanding of your professional strengths and weaknesses, you will be able to find a particular program that can help shape your development after you graduate.

The last thing you need to ask yourself is of course: What are the requirements needed to get into these programs. For some they may require the GMATs. For others they may require the GREs. Make sure you give yourself an ample amount of study time to prepare yourself for these standardize test. Remember, these are not just exams. They are the first key to your dream school. In addition, look at various deadline dates, references, and essays you will need to submit for each application. The worst thing you can do for yourself is to rush your application. Make sure you have a strong understanding of application process. If not, you may be risking your chances at submitting a weak application that can possibly deter the top programs from picking you.

Now, while there are other questions to of course consider before applying, start off these. These quick overarching questions will help you understand what graduate programs can best aid you before you decide to commit to the entire process.

Simon Sinek: How Great Leaders Inspire Action

Simon Sinek presents a simple but powerful model for how leaders inspire action, starting with a golden circle and the question “Why?” His examples include Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright brothers — and as a counterpoint Tivo, which (until a recent court victory that tripled its stock price) appeared to be struggling.

401k’s, Roth IRA, & the Ladder of Personal Finance

Ask-Ramit has provides a free ultimate guide to personal finance that can help cultivate the necessary foundation and knowledge in preparing your future each and everyday.

 

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