Simon Law - February 2020

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februaRy 2020

Why the Shortest Month Is the Hardest for Business Owners Make the Most of February

January is over, along with the hustle and stress of shopping for the holidays, sending out W-2s, and preparing for the year’s close. But for some business owners, the shortest month of the year isn’t a time for celebrating. With festive decorations put away and no holidays to anticipate, customers and clients may be feeling the gloom of winter. Many may also be holding their wallets a little closer as they recover from the December spending purge. To top it off, tax season is in full swing, but this year, you have 29 days to make February count. Stay Ahead There’s an old saying about only two guarantees in life: death and taxes. You know tax season is around the corner and your books are up for an intense examination to close out the year. Tax Day, April 15, 2020, and the filing deadline for S corporations, March 15, 2020, will be here before you know it, but if you prepare now, you can enjoy a steady and easy spring. January was the perfect time to wind down from the holidays, collect your plans, and ensure your employees have what they need to file taxes. Now, devote February to compiling everything you need for a successful How do you do it?

tax season, and ensure all your employees’ tax documents were filed and sent out correctly. Also, commit your organizational energy to your business. What do you need for the IRS or an auditing company? What happened in 2019 to change how you approach things in 2020? What shifts do you need to make for 2021? By March, you’ll be settled from the whirlwind of responsibility the new year brings, and you can coast into spring. Check Your Goals At this point of the year, you should have a clear idea for how the first and second quarters of 2020 will go. Because goals can shift, February is the perfect month to assess whether or not you need to make adjustments to the plan you made in 2019. Since business typically winds down to a manageable pace this month, consider how you could ramp it up come springtime. Do you need to press harder with your plans for 2020, or do you need to capitalize on what already worked in January? Compare your post-January projections to those of previous years to get a clear idea about what your next steps should be, and use February to implement them. Embrace the Slowdown No one likes a slow month in business, but you can use it to your advantage. If February is a historically slow month for you and your company, consider how you could improve internally. Offer extra employee training, provide cross-training events, streamline processes, test new software, or ramp up education for your sales, customer service, or technician staff. Take advantage of the extra hours in the workday not devoted to a customer’s needs and make your business stronger than ever for when the busy season hits again. Your team will be better prepared for the onslaught, and their extra precision just might pay dividends to overcome another slow month.

The shortest month of the year is nothing to fear! With these tools, you can make this your best February yet.

–Christopher Simon

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Should You Be Worried About Digital Dementia?

WhatItIs,WhereItCameFrom,andWhatItCouldMeanforOurScreenTime

Everyone forgets things. It’s not unusual to have trouble remembering the name of someone you’ve just met or recalling the face of a classmate you haven’t seen in 20 years. But it’s less normal — and a lot more inconvenient — to become chronically absent-minded. If you find yourself struggling to remember the minutiae of daily life, which page of a book you left off on, or when it’s time to pick your kids up from soccer practice, digital dementia could be to blame. The term “digital dementia” was coined in 2012 by German neuroscientist Manfred Spitzer, who studies how our addiction to technology is impacting our brains. According to Alzheimers. net, Spitzer found that “overuse of digital technology is resulting in the breakdown of cognitive abilities in a way that is more commonly seen in people who have suffered a head injury or psychiatric illness.” Because of the shared symptoms, Spitzer called the affliction digital dementia. On a hot summer day in late July 2018, three people entered Miss Helen’s home, forcibly removed her, put her in a stroller, and ran toward their getaway vehicle. This might sound like a typical kidnapping story, but Miss Helen is no ordinary person. She is a 16-inch horn shark living at the San Antonio Aquarium. Fortunately, their fishy behavior didn’t go unnoticed, and someone alerted the aquarium staff. One perpetrator drove away with Miss Helen in tow, but the other two were stopped by aquarium staff, later confessing to their involvement. Thanks to some observant witnesses and aquarium surveillance, police were able to identify the third thief and obtain a warrant to search his house. As it turned out, he had an extensive aquarium in his home and possibly hoped to add Miss Helen to his collection. After being identified, Miss Helen was returned home safely.

In the years since, speculation has abounded about the causes of digital dementia and how people can fight it. A 2017 Forbes article theorized that the problem isn’t just time spent with screens but how much we rely on our smartphones to feed us once-memorized information. information like that frees you up to focus on bigger and theoretically more important things,” Tony Bradley wrote in Forbes. “If you just use your device as a memory crutch, though, and you don’t take advantage of the opportunity to put your brain to work on other things, you aren’t exercising your brain, and it will atrophy.” Psychology Today blamed digital dementia in part on the mental strategies encouraged by video games. According to one study, gaming encourages the “response” strategy of following the same rote movements, while nongamers “In theory, having a device to store phone numbers, dates, maps and directions, and other

tend to use the “spatial” strategy of relying on landmarks when they navigate, which is better for mental sharpness. Whatever the root cause, we can take steps to fight digital dementia. As Dr. Carolyn Brockington told Alzheimers.net, the best strategies involve stepping away from screens and relying on brainpower. The next time you’re considering picking up your smartphone, try reading a book, playing a musical instrument, hitting the gym, or learning a new language instead. No Minor Crime While many animal lovers might disagree, animals are considered personal property, so stealing them is a crime of theft, not kidnapping. The penalties for stealing animals vary depending on each state’s laws, and some states have specific laws regarding animal theft. In Texas, larceny law designates the theft of property valued between $1,500–$20,000 as a felony. In the case of Miss Helen, who’s valued by the aquarium at $2,000, the thieves committed a felony. Also, transporting certain animals requires special permits, which led to additional charges against the three thieves. The Animal Welfare Act, which was adopted in 1966, is the only federal law that regulates the treatment of animals in research, exhibition, transport, and by dealers. Interestingly, it only applies to warm-blooded animals, so if Miss Helen had needed further protection, she would be left out in the cold.

Stealing Miss Helen ‘OCEAN’S 3’ ATTEMPT A HIGH-STAKES HEIST

The aquarium staff was grateful to have Miss Helen back unharmed, despite her ordeal. “She’s a tough little horn shark, I’ll tell you that,” affirmed Jamie Shank, the assistant husbandry director at the aquarium.

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WORD SEARCH

FACTS ABOUT THE LEAP YEAR Leap Into 2020 Like the Olympics and presidential elections, leap years only occur once every four years, which is why many people look forward to Feb. 29. But there’s a lot that you might not know about this quirk on the calendar. Why To keep the calendar in sync with Earth’s orbit around the sun, an extra day is added to it every four years. Earth takes exactly 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds to orbit the sun. Those extra hours add up over time, so another calendar day becomes necessary. But a leap year doesn’t occur every four years. Adding that extra day still doesn’t quite keep Earth on track, so the calendar skips leap years that occur during century years not divisible by 400. For example, 2000 was a leap year, but 2100 won’t be. Who The odds of being born on Feb. 29 are 1 in 1,461. That means that of the roughly seven billion people in the world, only about five million of them are “leaplings.” The number of leaplings currently living in the U.S. is roughly 187,000. Some famous leaplings include motivational speaker Tony Robbins, rapper Ja Rule, and singer Mark Foster of Foster the People. However, the most famous leapling is probably Superman. When you invent a super-being, you might as well give him a super-birthday. Where Anthony, Texas/New Mexico (a single town that straddles the two states’ borders), claims the title “Leap Year Capital of the World.” The city throws one massive birthday party for all leaplings but invites everyone to join the celebration. Two leapling neighbors from Anthony began the tradition in 1988, and it’s blossomed into a festival with thousands of participants every four years. It includes banquets, hot air balloons, a carnival, concerts, parades, and more. When you have four years to plan in between each shindig, there’s time to go big. Celebrate this leap year by doing something unusual or new. It’s a special day that doesn’t occur often, so make the most of it by doing something you’ll talk about for another four years.

AQUARIUS ASH CHOCOLATE CUPID DONOR

GROUNDHOG LOVE PISCES PRESIDENTS ROMANCE

ROSES SKIING SNOWBANK SUGAR VALENTINE

Date Truffles

Valentine’s Day is all about love … and chocolate. Enjoy these chocolate peanut butter date truffles with your date this Valentine’s Day.

INGREDIENTS

1 lb medjool dates, pitted (about 1 1/2 cups)

• •

1/4 cup peanut butter 1 cup bittersweet or dark chocolate, chopped 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted

• •

1/2 tsp sea salt Warm water

DIRECTIONS 1.

Using a food processor, blend dates and sea salt until dough can be formed into a ball. Slowly add enough warm water to mixture to thicken dough. 2. Roll dough into tablespoon-sized balls. Freeze for 20–30 minutes. 3. In microwave, warm 1/4 cup peanut butter for 30 seconds, then drizzle peanut butter on top of balls. Freeze balls for another 20 minutes. 4. Meanwhile, in microwave, warm chocolate with coconut oil until melted. Stir well. 5. Coat balls in chocolate and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. 6. Top with additional salt and freeze for 30 minutes. Serve at room temperature.

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A Business Owner’s Guide to Surviving February 1 Should You Be Worried About Digital Dementia?

A Slippery Crime 2 Learn All About Leap Year Date Truffles 3 Your Epic Adventure Awaits 4

Create Your Own Odyssey MYTHICAL ADVENTURES AWAIT IN THE MEDITERRANEAN

One of the oldest stories in Western literature is Homer’s “The Odyssey.” This epic poem tells the story of Odysseus and his long journey home after the Trojan War. While Odysseus’ travels were fraught with mythical monsters and magic, many of the places he visited are said to be inspired by real islands in the Mediterranean. Even today, travelers flock to these islands looking for peace, adventure, and epic stories of their own. Sicily, Italy One of the most popular stories in “The Odyssey” is the tale of Odysseus rescuing his

crew from Polyphemus, a man-eating Cyclops. It’s said that Polyphemus made his home on what is now modern-day Sicily. Fortunately, there are no Cyclopes in Sicily today; there are only cultural festivals, world-class golf courses, and delicious food. Gozo, Malta While Odysseus’ journey was perilous, he did enjoy one peaceful stop. Odysseus spent seven years on the mythical island of Ogygia, home of the nymph Calypso. Historians suspect that Ogygia was Gaudos, now modern-day Gozo, Malta. Gozo is home to the Ġgantija temples,

which are older than the Egyptian pyramids. In addition to exploring its archeological marvels, Gozo’s visitors can also enjoy snorkeling, horseback riding, and other memorable adventures. Ithaca, Greece If you want to chart your own odyssey, make your final stop Odysseus’ home, the island of Ithaca. Covered in lush greenery and quaint villages, Ithaca is a wonderful place to relax at the end of your trip. Visitors can enjoy their morning coffee by a seaside cafe before lounging on a secluded beach for the rest of the day. It’s no wonder why Odysseus fought so hard to get back to Ithaca! With dozens of other islands to explore, the Mediterranean is the perfect place to plan your own odyssey — minus the mythical monsters, of course.

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