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The confidence man

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Are you a “confident” person? When you step into a living room or have a prospect enter your office do you believe, really believe, that you will be able to bring that individual into the fold?

I love the idea of “confidence” and what it means in regards to success. The legendary football coach, Vince Lombardi said, “Confidence is contagious. So is lack of confidence.”

Coach Lombardi was the not the first leader to understand the important role confidence plays in success. Novelist and quote machine Mark Twain said, “To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence.”

Self-help guru Dale Carnegie also had thoughts on the topic: “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”

These thoughts on confidence all deal with the idea of things that we can control. But what about those things we can’t control?

It was with that theory in mind that I surveyed boomers and seniors on their confidence level that the economy will improve.

Here’s what they had to say…

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Antonia, a 72-year-old from Nebraska, told me: “It seems to me like America’s just headed down the wrong road — has been for some time. We have all this competition from foreign countries that we never had before. I think the young people are just going to have to accept that things are going to be a lot tougher for them than they were for us. I miss Ronald Reagan!”

Arthur, an 80-year-old Connecticut native, took a more analytical approach to the economy: “I follow the stock market fairly closely, and — yes — things do appear to be improving in the equity markets. I’m retired, of course, so I’m heavily invested in fixed-income instruments (Treasuries and things like that). So, what concerns me at this point is what happens when interest rates go up.”

Georgia, a 66-year-old from California, was downright sunny on the economy’s potential. “Things are definitely on the mend. People aren’t losing their jobs the way they were in 2008. Housing prices are starting to go back up — thank goodness! We saw a lot of our equity go right down the toilet in the crash. Fortunately, we didn’t have to move — and didn’t want to. We love living here in Monterey.”

“We’re still pretty young, so our retirement time horizon is still pretty far off,” said Reba, a 58-year-old from Florida. “But it’s a little unnerving what Bernanke is doing to the economy. He’s creating another bubble! Hopefully, he can wean us off the cheap money slowly so it doesn’t pop. It would be great if we could hang on to some of the gains we’ve seen recently, but I’m not holding my breath.”

And, finally, Cora, a 62-year-old from Massachusetts, had one of the more interesting ways to gauge confidence in the economy — it has to do with interpreting her husband’s mood swings. “Yeah, I’d say the economy is on the way up. My husband seems a lot less depressed these days — that’s basically how I know whether we’re doing well or not. People seem to be going back to work. Although, I will say I see a lot of people from my generation [working] at the McDonald’s drive-through these days.” 

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