Erie Business Law - December 2020

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December 2020

Planning for the Year Ahead

Historically, I have kept an 18-month calendar plan of my goals and strategic projects for my business that hangs behind me in the office. Every time I see it, it helps keep me focused and prevents me from chasing after shiny objects. If something isn’t part of my plan, it probably isn’t something we need. With 2020 being what it was, it’s interesting to look at those months and see just how much our objectives had to adapt this past year. We had to face things out of our control, which rapidly changed our usual approach to daily activities, goals, and work. When the pandemic struck, we adjusted our plans much more frequently than we would in a normal year. Something we’d planned to accomplish halfway, or even a quarter, through the year was either eliminated or completely altered. Yet, no matter the changes, we will continue to plan our goals. I’ve always hated New Year’s resolutions. Everyone loses momentum with their resolutions as time goes by, myself included. Very rarely do I set out to do something at the beginning of the year and stick with it. That is why it’s essential for me to go through a quarterly goal-setting process. The more frequently I monitor my goals, and the more I spend thinking about what I really want to achieve, the more likely I am to accomplish them. Plus, I don’t have to wait for some arbitrary change of the calendar to go after those plans. As we approach and enter 2021, one of the most significant changes we will implement is setting time aside to work on our plans and strategy more frequently

than we have before. Our long-term plans will be less specific than they otherwise would have been, and that will give us the edge we need to continue growing and helping our clients. What’s happened over the last 10 months has given us many different ways to help people and business owners; our goal is to continue that momentum in the years to come. The moves we have made in the past 10 months are going to have a disproportionate impact on the next 5 years of our firm. When the lockdown took effect and we had to work virtually, we quickly implemented new technology into our everyday routines. We began using Zoom and an improved email system to conduct business, both of which we’re absolutely going to use in 2021. What’s more, these new technologies will help us grow geographically. They allow us to serve people in other areas outside of Erie. We can meet with them and discuss business matters virtually, which wasn’t as easy to do prior to the pandemic. 2020 was difficult, but it is also an opportunity that will continue to help us move forward. As our team continues to grow, we have more opportunities to adapt and change for the benefit of our clients, as long as we stick with a plan.

“The moves we have made in the past 10 months are going to have a disproportionate impact on the next 5 years of our firm.”

–Adam Williams | 1

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3 GIFT-GIVING TIPS That Won’t Kill Your Savings

Think beyond store-bought or expensive items.

Ah, the holidays. It’s a time of sweet treats, family, and giving back — and sometimes giving a little too much. When it comes to the perfect holiday gift, many people spend too much money. The average American spends nearly $1,000 on gifts during the December holidays alone! It’s possible to cut back and make it to January without major debt. Here’s how.

Sure, everyone wants this holiday season’s “it” item, but sometimes the best gifts don’t even come wrapped under the tree. Instead, look to your own talents as a clue to what you should give. If you’re a great crafter, create something unique for the people on your list. If you can offer the gift of time, provide a free night of babysitting for your friends with kids or an experience at the local theater. These gifts have a bonus factor: Recipients love the gift when they open it, and they love it when they get to use it!

Set a budget — and stick to it.

Setting a holiday budget ensures you only spend what you can afford. It also narrows down your search. If you choose to buy your neighbor something, but they aren’t your top priority, set their budget at a lower level, like $25–$50. If you have a sibling who has had a rough year and you’d like to make their holidays a little brighter, bump their budget up. This narrows the focus of what you’re looking for so you don’t stumble into something you can’t afford. Ultimately, it’s the spirit of giving during the holidays that makes them so rewarding. With a little ingenuity, you can be generous and avoid the stress of excess debt come January.

Check your list — twice!

The list is going to be your secret weapon to tackling the holidays with your savings still intact. Start by writing down the name of every person you’d like to get a gift for. Now, with the exception of your immediate family members, narrow the names down to your top five — top 10 if you’re really popular. Now, place the names of the people who didn’t make the cut into a second list. If you still feel the need to do something for them, send homemade cookies or a handwritten note instead of purchasing something. This limits how much you actually have to spend!

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spellings of common names. Additionally, the name must match the biological sex of the child: girls with feminine names and boys with masculine names. And another thing, traditional last names cannot be used as a first name. Many other countries have similar laws, including Germany. While the German laws are not as strict as Denmark’s, they state that the name must match the sex and that any name must not bring harm to the child. That is to say, if the child is likely to be bullied because of the name, it may be rejected.

No Running Out of Gas on the Autobahn

Should you run out of gas and require assistance, you must not leave your vehicle, because it’s also illegal to walk on the

The “no gas” law is designed to minimize hazards and accidents on the road. It’s also illegal to stop on the side of the Autobahn, unless you’re experiencing an emergency or car trouble, such as an unforeseen issue with the engine. Running out of gas is considered a “foreseen” issue, thanks to fuel indicators.

Speaking of Germany, home of the Autobahn, it’s illegal to run out of gas while driving on the superhighway. In fact, driving on the Autobahn comes with many restrictions. That’s the trade-off for accessing an efficient road system where some stretches lack a speed limit.

Autobahn. If you do need to pull over, you must do so in designated areas or leave the highway altogether.

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It’s not always easy to share feelings of frustration, anger, sadness, or other strong emotions — but it’s healthy to share them. Sometimes, we need to vent and get it all out. Venting gives us an opportunity to release these emotions, which often leads to mental clarity. However, when someone comes to you to vent and share their heavy emotional burden, listening can be just as challenging as sharing. You want to be supportive, but you don’t want to interfere. Strong feelings and tough situations may be involved. What can you do to be the listener they really need? It starts with your body language. Open yourself to their emotional needs. Gregorio Billikopf, an interpersonal relationship expert at the University of California, Berkeley says if you begin the conversation standing, invite the person to have a seat with you. Another thing you can do as a listener is position yourself below their eye line. This puts the person venting in a more active “storyteller” position and you in a better “listener” position. While in this position, maintain eye contact. It’s okay to look down or away occasionally, but try to keep steady eye contact. Billikopf also notes that, as a listener, it’s important to avoid interjecting. Don’t offer input, suggestions, or guidance to the person venting until after the person has had the chance to get it all out. “During this venting process, there is still too much pressure for a person to consider other perspectives,” Billikopf says. While you don’t want to interject, you do want to be an active listener. This means you don’t want to be completely silent. This is where “reflective listening” comes in. Occasionally repeat what the speaker says — but don’t use their exact phrasing. Reword slightly in a sympathetic manner. Don’t spin their words or mistakenly interject an opinion, as it may not be the opinion they’re interested in hearing. Alternatively, listening cues like “mm” or “hm” and nods are always welcome. One last thing to keep in mind: You do not need to offer a solution to the person’s problem or concerns. They may just be venting to get their negative emotions out, not looking for answers or explanations. If they are looking for answers or guidance, wait for them to ask. In the meantime, lend your ear and let them know you’re there for them going forward. BE A BETTER LISTENER FOR SOMEONE Who Needs to ‘Get It All Out’


Inspired by


• 1 stick butter • 1 cup sugar • 1 egg, room temperature • Zest of 1 orange • 1 tsp salt

• 1 tsp baking soda • 1 cup sour cream • 3 1/2 cups mixed dried fruit of your choice, chopped • 1 cup nuts of your choice, chopped • 2 cups all-purpose flour, divided


1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Line a 9x5-inch loaf pan with greased baking paper. Ensure the piece running the length of the pan stands 1 inch above each side to form “handles.” 2. In a small bowl, mix baking soda and sour cream. 3. In a second bowl, combine fruit, nuts, and 1/4 cup flour. 4. In a third bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg, zest, and sour cream mixture. Then, add remaining flour and salt. Mix, then add fruit mixture. 5. Pour batter into lined pan. Fill up a separate loaf pan halfway with water. Bake both pans in oven for 1 1/2–2 hours or until a skewer leaves the cake clean. 6. Use “handles” to remove cake from pan and cool completely on a rack before serving. | 3

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814-315-9255 425 West 10th St. Erie, PA 16502 INSIDE THIS ISSUE


Planning for the Year Ahead

3 Fool-Proof Ways to Pay for the Holidays Without Going Broke


Not Your Grandma’s Fruitcake How to Be a Better Listener for Someone in Need



Strange Laws Around the Globe


No Chewing Gum in Singapore

Company. You can get certain types of gum with a prescription, but if you are caught with more than two packs or are found littering, you may be handed a very steep fine.

Nearly every community around the world has strange laws: Some were established decades or centuries ago to address specific issues that came up once or twice; some were created with good intentions but have since become outdated; and there are some recently created ones that still serve practical purposes. Here are three such examples.

Singapore has numerous laws aimed at keeping the city-state free of clutter, one of which is aimed squarely at chewing gum. As the government made infrastructure improvements in the 1980s and ‘90s, they wanted to curb vandalism and littering so they could keep this new area clean. The result was a crackdown on gum. They take it so seriously that they monitor gum products that pass through the city-state. If it’s en route to a neighboring country, it must be locked up until it’s through. In the past, anyone caught selling, possessing, or chewing gum could be fined up to $100,000.

No Unusual Names in Denmark

When you have a child in Denmark, don’t get too creative with their name. The government maintains a list of around 7,000 approved names, and around 200 names are rejected every year. However, if you choose a name that isn’t on the list, you might not receive an automatic denial. You can get special approval through your local church, then submit the name for approval from government officials. The law looks down on naming children after inanimate objects or alternative Continued on Page 2 ...

In recent years, the law has eased somewhat, thanks in part to gum lobbyists funded by the Wrigley

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