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Michelle Smith crisis as opportunity

Crisis as Opportunity: Advice from Certified Divorce Financial Analyst Michelle Smith

A recent wealth management podcast interviewed Source Financial CEO, Michelle Smith. Smith’s unique experience as a long-time financial advisor, premier money manager, divorcee, and co-parent of a child with special needs is insightful and informative. Of the many lessons learned from this interview, perhaps the most pertinent are those that relate to our current Covid-19 reality as well.

Surround Yourself With Positivity

According to Smith, any big crisis brings out the best and worst in us and those around us. When her son was born and she received his Down syndrome diagnosis, she channeled all her energy toward doing what needs to get done. Her husband at the time, however, didn’t make that switch. As she helps many separated couples navigate the corona emergency, she sees those who are rallying and figuring out how to co-parent during a lockdown, and others who are fighting more and harping on old grudges. When she was a new mom, Smith says she used her own positive nature to propel herself forward. She also made sure to leave no room for negativity in her life and surrounded herself with those who shared her optimism. She extends this advice now too: the familial and financial realities of this crisis are not easy, but if you remain positive and focus on action, things don’t have to be catastrophic.

Ask for Help

Divorce is not something anyone should do alone. Individuals going through a divorce must surround themselves with capable legal and economic professionals to ensure their best interests are fairly represented. Encouragement and love from family and friends provide guidance and support. Smith has dedicated her career to helping women build a financially stable and sustainable life after their marriage. The same is true for co-parenting a child with special needs: it takes a village. Now, more than ever, we are seeing the value of community. We all need to get comfortable asking for help and letting our virtual, and literal, villages be there for us when we need them. The key, according to Smith, is to be specific with our requests.

Focus on Shared Goals

Even as a marriage crumbles, it is important to focus on the values and objectives that once brought you together. Remember the respect you have for one another and direct that toward the settlement. Your ex-spouse is not someone you will ever be “rid” of, especially if you share children, so keep things cordial and constructive. Now is an opportunity to rethink the tactics of decoupling: nobody wants to prolong the process of divorce or excessively litigate matters. Mediation, with the right professionals and the proper mindset, can yield fair, equitable, and civil outcomes for all involved. As more families (married, divorced, or otherwise) spend increased amounts of time together during this crisis, concentrating on shared goals – like cohesion, health, monetary sense—can be empowering.

Fox Buys Sky

Rupert Murdoch at Les Misérables red carpet movie premiere, Sydney, Australia. Photo by Eva Rinaldi.

It took five years, but Rupert Murdoch has finally acquired the rest of the UK-based Sky Network. Murdoch is the Australian-American media mogul billionaire owner of 21st Century Fox, who tried, but failed a complete buyout of Sky in 2011. Now he is getting the 61 percent that he didn’t already own for almost $15 billion, $13.52 per share. The price is a 36 percent increase over the closing price of the stock on December 8. Fox projects that it will be able to close the deal for $14.6 billion before the end of 2017.

The sale was scrapped in 2011 due to News Corp.’s phone hacking and alleged bribery scandal. Because of this summer’s Brexit decision, the value of the pound dived, making the price of Sky’s shares a relative bargain.

“We have been thoughtful, disciplined and focused as we have contemplated the best use of our capital to drive the growth of the business into the future,” said Lachlan Murdoch, 21st Century Fox’s executive chairman.

The deal with Sky is Fox’s largest transaction to date. Sky will add value to Fox by providing its own programming, library to sports broadcasting rights, and more during a time when large telecom and content providers are consolidating.

“All in all, even taking into account the sports cost issue, this is probably a better and more durable business than most US. investors would presume,” said Michael Nathanson, of MoffettNathanson Research, who lowered its rating on Fox shares to Neutral from Buy and increased the target price $2 to $32.

Rupert Murdoch owns 21st Century Fox with his sons James and Lachlan, including Fox TV network, Fox News and Hollywood study 20th Century Fox.

Commercial Droning Regulations to Take Off

Along with the huge rise in the commercial use of drones has come the need to regulate this activity. Such laws are about to emerge which will clear the way for a regulated business-related drone flight everywhere in the US, hopefully bringing some order to what some have considered chaos.

The FAA announced its first set of laws which will permit anyone to use drones, as long as they follow the steps and meet the requirements. The first of those will be the acquisition of a remote pilot’s certificate, which can be had by sitting for a written test at an FAA testing center.

Once you’ve received your license to fly, you will need to make sure your drone is under the 55 lb. (25 kg) limit. This covers the vast majority of drones generally in use.

The new rules also limit the maximum altitude an operator can send their drone to under 400 ft. (122 m). Speeds must also be kept under 100 mph (161 kmh) and must always be within seeing distance of the pilot. No night flying with the exception of 30 minutes before sunrise and after sunset, but only if your drone is fitted with anti-collision lights. One pilot-one drone: a single operator cannot fly more than one drone at a time, and a drone is never allowed to fly over the heads of people.

The FAA says it is willing to be lenient on some of the rules if the operator can demonstrate that safety will not be compromised. A special on-line portal will be set up for pilots to make their cases for special waivers.

This is a step towards the future of retail drone delivery, but as Matt Sweeney, whose startup Flirtey carried out the first FAA-approved drone delivery exercise last year explains:

“This is to some extent broader than some people in the industry were expecting. But as currently written, you can still not fly over people, you can still not fly beyond the line of sight and you cannot operate more than one drone at a time. And those are really the three key things that are required for the drone delivery industry to emerge at scale.”

Learning Corporate Tips from College Alumni

For those going out into the business world for the first time, getting tips from those who have already made it is a good way to start. Businessmen who have graduated and made it in the business world can enlighten students on how to avoid real-world pitfalls.

One example of this was the recent Alumni Meet which took place at MIET – the Model Institute of Engineering and Technology. At this event more than 75 alumni from all multi-national business industries participated. In addition, some alumni received one of the ‘Distinguished Alumni Awards’ as a recognition of how they have “set benchmarks in professional achievement.”

James Donovan, Goldman Sachs Managing Director and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Virginia School of Law, has similarly been involved in using his alumnus status to impart wisdom on the management and cultivation of client relationships.

“Covering clients is a learned skill. It is not an innate skill,” he recently pointed out in a lecture he gave at the Virginia School of Law. He said that it is not something that people are born with; it is something that can be learned…. “if you are willing to learn them.” The way you do this, Donovan suggested to those studying at the institution, is to “find somebody at the firm you work…find someone who’s really good at bringing in business, at covering clients, and learn as much as you can from that person. Be an open book, put your ego aside.”

Another helpful way for alumni to get ahead in the business world is by alumni networking.  This was what Princeton University did last month, inviting Asian and Asian American alumni from around the world gathered to “celebrate their significance to the Princeton community.” The ‘We Flourish’ conference did more than that. Over 700 alumni gathered together to network, hear lectures and engage in discussions at the conference that was organized by the Office of the Alumni Affairs and the Association of Asian American Alumni of Princeton. One particularly notable discussion took place between the Chairman of Hopewell Holdings Ltd., Sir Gordon Wu, and Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and author, Sheryl WuDunn, about business philosophy, philanthropy and their days at Princeton.

For those who have just graduated – and even others who are making their way in the business world and would like to hear from those who have already made it – alumni gatherings are not only helpful, but are also often extremely enjoyable as these three examples above indicate.

Westerlies Blowing Ozone from China to US

zone molecular electrical potential surface 3D-vdW.

Despite efforts to reduce the levels of ozone in the US, overall reduction has been stymied by the arrival of pollution across the Pacific Ocean from China.

A new study conducted by six researchers at US and Dutch universities shows that ozone concentrations in the air over China has gone up 7 percent between 2005 and 2010, and that this increased level of  ozone  is traveling through the air all the way from China to the western United States, off-setting the significant reduction in production in ozone levels there.

The US has put into place public policy to reduce emissions which are pre-cursers to the formation of ozone, such as nitrogen oxides. On the West Coast of the US that reduction in production amounted to about 20 percent. Yet the overall air quality, especially in ozone concentrations, did not improve.

Lead researcher from the Wageningen University in the Netherlands, Willem Verstraeten, said that the worsening air pollution in Asia could be the reason the US is not seeing the kind of ozone reduction it should.

Verstraeten theorized that the “dominant westerly winds blew this air pollution straight across to the United States.  As a manner of speaking, China is exporting its air pollution to the West Coast of America.”