Opinion

June 24, 2014

Mark Millican: Prognosticator says GOP will not win U.S. Senate

The raucous cheering you just heard is Democrats reading that headline.

The increase of heat in the room is the rising of Republicans’ blood pressure by doing the same.

But hey, don’t blame the messenger. That is just one of 10 predictions for 2014 that financial whiz and billion-dollar portfolio manager Bob Doll made. By the way, he got 7.5 of 10 predictions right in 2013.

Doll, who’s appeared on hundreds of national radio and TV business and finance programs, spoke to around 2,000 attendees at the Chattanooga Area Leadership Prayer Breakfast back in May. Although not focusing on his predictions — which also include the U.S. economy growing 3 percent and employment hitting an all-time high — he did warm up the crowd with some “stock” icebreakers since that’s his specialty.

• A stock analyst, he quipped, is the idiot who just downgraded the stock you bought yesterday.

• A stock split is when your ex-wife and her lawyer split your assets evenly among themselves.

• And a market correction occurs the day after you buy stocks.

Doll has worked with CitiCorps, Oppenheimer Funds, Merrill Lynch and BlackRock and is now at Nuveen Asset Management. He belongs to a number of boards with faith connections.

Doll said prayer breakfast leaders asked him to share lessons of faith in light of his profession.

“The struggles that we face could be the best thing that ever happened to us,” Doll stated, explaining how he unexpectedly lost a well-paying job with BlackRock. “We often define ourselves by what we do, and then unwittingly we beat ourselves up for confusion if that’s how we define ourselves.”

He cited “achievement, success (and) accumulation” as obsessions of American culture, then offered an alternative list he called “the impetus of my faith.”

• “Focus on the best, sometimes at the expense of the good. Life is short and we run out of time ... What are you doing with your time? What do you do with your money? How are you helping other people — family, friends, in the workplace, in the community?” he asked.

Doll said the answer to these questions is “different for every one of us.”

• “Live a heart-motivated life, not a head- or a hand-motivated life,” he suggested. “Now we use our head and our hands, don’t get me wrong. But what’s the motivation to what it is that we do? Many of us in the crowd who are ‘type A’s’ have a propensity to have a checklist. We check one thing off, then we check the next thing off, and all of a sudden we’re feeling pretty good. There’s nothing wrong with a checklist, but what’s the motivation that causes us to do the things we do?”

Those who live a heart-motivated life tend to be “better helpers, better listeners — and can bring joy to others,” he said.

• “Get a grasp on the brevity of life,” he suggested. Doll noted he had the privilege of handling billions of dollars and traveling millions of miles while dealing with some very wealthy and famous people.

“I’ve had some wonderful experiences and I wouldn’t trade them,” he said. “But none of that holds a candle to knowing where I’m going to be when this heart stops beating. I would trade it all if I didn’t know that. One wag has said, ‘You can’t control the length of your life, but you can control its depth.’”

• “Remember it’s not about you,” he cautioned. One of society’s biggest problems — and ours individually — is “too often we live life as if we’re at the center,” Doll continued. “We live in a me-centric society and increasingly so ... deep down inside, we have a nature that speaks to selfishness ... What a difference this world would be if we got past that and invested in others’ lives.”

• Doll claimed, “It’s not the circumstances that define us, but how we react to the circumstances. How do you react to circumstances?”

He related losing his job, which “hit me between my eyes.”

“There were lessons that God needed to teach me,” he said. “I remember about six weeks after that I was still moping around. My wife said, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ I said, ‘I don’t know why this has hit me so hard.’”

Doll said he recognized he had transferred some of his identity to his job.

“I came to realize trusting in anything to deliver satisfaction, control, significance — other than where we were created to place our trust to get significance — is going to fail eventually,” he confessed he learned.

• Finally, Doll recommended to his listeners, “Be careful how you pray.”

He recalled in 2009 how he and his wife were listening in Sunday school to a missionary who spoke about the prior 12 months with its problems and losses. Doll said he leaned over to his wife and whispered, “Our life is easy — I wonder why God is doing all that in that missionary’s life. Does he have more for us? So we prayed that very day, ‘God, if we need to go through some things to be better servants ... put us in that position.’”

That was the beginning, he said in retrospect, of a three-year “very challenging period.”

“I first was demoted, then I lost my job, our marriage had some big difficulties — but it’s better now having gone through that,” he related. “We had problems with our kids, but they worked out. Be careful what you pray for. God answers prayers.”

By the way, Doll did predict Republicans will increase their lead in the U.S. House of Representatives even though they won’t win the Senate. When he gave his 2014 predictions, however, the national Veterans Affairs scandal, terrorist prisoner swap, takeover of Iraq by bloodthirsty terrorists and thousands of illegals freely crossing our southern border with Mexico had not been revealed in the news.

What’s that you say? It’s Bush’s fault? Oh well, I stand corrected.

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