I started writing The Bottom Line of Happiness in 2019, though I started shaping my thoughts about the book many years ago. When the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 started, much of the book was already written, even as I watched dramatic changes to the world around us and worked hard to guide my clients through the chaos. Certainly, much about 2020 could have made someone pessimistic about the direction of society or even about faith in our shared humanity. And certainly, you would be a fool not to be concerned about many issues of justice, fairness, and the decisions of leaders. But I have also seen many people take wonderful actions through the pandemic: businesses pivoting not only survive but to help others, such as providing PPE to health care workers; donations increasing dramatically, especially for the benefit of those most affected; advisors spending extra time interpreting and helping navigate rules surrounding government pandemic relief programs, and the majority of people adjusting how they work and play to protect the ones they love. Every balance sheet has assets and liabilities—the pandemic amplified both, but I witnessed firsthand the positive net worth of humanity and the key role of the Big-Hearted Business Owner™ in it. I also witnessed many of the ideas in the book utilized to great effect, specifically by helping owners make better decisions in the face of rapid change, understanding new and evolving sources of liquidity, and supporting needed causes with tax efficiency.
As I finish this book at the end of 2021, I certainly anticipate continued changes in the markets and tax laws, some of which may make a few of these specific ideas or techniques obsolete. But I believe the processes here have a lasting benefit to business owners committed to taking care of themselves, their family, their employees, their community, and their causes. I apologize for referencing an overused parable, but I believe it has much relevance: An old man saw a young man on a beach that was filled with stranded starfish. He was throwing them back into the water. The old man asked, “Son, do you really think you can make a difference?” The young man responded, “It did to that one.” I hope this book in some way can help you leverage your ability to make a difference.
Y.I.S.T.T.P. (Yours in service to the pack—a kind reference to thought leader Ben Hunt, Founder of Epsilon Theory)
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