Summer vacations can be both fun and educational. My recent western states vacation is a good example. When I head for the west coast, I generally make several stops. One of the most interesting was at Rapid City, S.D.
To my surprise, the city has life size bronze statues of all our
presidents. I wandered into the main office and learned that the artists
and statues were funded and maintained by a private organization. A
gentleman explained to me that it was their way of honoring our nation.
My next stop was the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, where I was
fascinated to learn the process of its dream, design, construction and
ongoing maintenance. It’s also where I decided the direction of today’s
I overheard some startling comments from the large contingent of
domestic and foreign visitors, including such as “Who is that along with
Washington and Lincoln?” But my favorite was “Why did they put
Roosevelt on the monument before he was president?” Obviously, some
visitors were confusing Teddy and Franklin D.
Whenever I turned on the news during my western trip, the topic was
Ferguson, MO, just outside of St. Louis. In our nation’s history, St.
Louis was the starting point for many western settlers.
Most were seeking the American Dream of a better economic life. People
have continually moved west seeking a better lifestyle. Those journeys
were not without risk, and, on some occasions, ended in death.
The nation has changed dramatically since the Wild West was settled.
While the American Dream is still alive and well, I fear that many don’t
share the dream or simply lack the drive to improve their lot in life.
As a financial advisor, I help people handle their finances. Except for
the few that inherited their wealth, most accumulate it through work and
investment. But the foundation for building wealth is something that
many seem to be lacking.
Our nation’s challenge is to develop new opportunities that lead to good
jobs and careers. I believe we need a modern-day western journey to
revive the American dream. In other words, we should be emphasize having
dreams and taking calculated risks rather than debating the minimum
It appears our focus is on just getting by rather than aiming for the
sky. My youngest son and some of his friends are good examples. After
graduating from college at the height of the recession he “went west.”
He discovered there are plenty of well-paying jobs for those that are
willing to dedicate themselves and work hard. Many in his age group
followed the same path.
In the investment world, you need to find the balance between minimizing
risk and maximizing aggressiveness. I don’t mean if you’re without work
or unhappy with your job, that you should drop everything and head west
tomorrow. But you shouldn’t abandon your dreams.
There are indeed many opportunities that can be pursued. The American
Dream that pushed many of our forefathers west still exists. You might
have to look a bit harder to find them, but they are out there. Our
history is full of stories of individuals who took risk and found
success. America has changed, but with hard work, a bit of risk and
maybe a little luck, no dream is unattainable.