Why It is Important to Give to Charity

Hello readers and greetings from Kansas City!

My wife was recently volunteering at one of the city’s great charities – Wayside Waifs. The organization is filled with amazing individuals who work tirelessly to rescue animals within the community and provide them with loving families. It is a charity that is very dear to her and myself, and I highly recommend any fellow readers in Kansas City to consider donating or volunteering (even if you’re not an animal lover).

But while I was thinking about the organization and how amazing the service is that they provide – it got me thinking about the concept of charity and how it becomes increasingly important to an individual who spends their time or hard-earned money on giving back.

Today, I’d like to share my thoughts on some of the personal benefits of participating in charity.

It is Personally Gratifying

It is often said that giving is a greater joy than receiving, and I have found this to be absolutely true. When you actively choose to dedicate your time and resources to benefiting the lives of others or your community – you see the effects of positive change that you, as an individual, can make on the world around you.

Even if it’s merely a couple of dollars or making small deposits of time at a local organization like Wayside Waifs – it all matters, and it gives you an unmatched enjoyment that cannot be gained through typical notions of “success.”

Charity Gives You Another Perspective

There’s really nothing that can give you a new perspective like making a positive difference in another person’s life. Whether that’s through helping organize a clothing drive, donating food for struggling families or even dropping off old items that can be useful to someone who needs them.

When we make the effort to participate in an act of charity, we undergo an immediate shift in how we think about our lives. It opens us to learning about the experience of another individual. This can be extremely humbling and give us the chance to reflect on all of the things we have to be thankful for. It also shows us how easily someone can fall into unfortunate circumstances outside of their control.

This type of perspective shift can be a very moving experience that we can take with us as we go on with our lives. It makes us better versions of ourselves.

Gratitude

Perhaps the most personally rewarding benefit that we all gain from charity is the enormous sense of gratitude that it bestows upon us.

Often times we get so caught up in the day-to-day drama that we lose touch with reality and create needless headaches for ourselves. We get bent out of shape over cancelled flights, annoying traffic jams, slow WIFI, and other little inconveniences all the time. We’ve all seen someone lose their mind when their favorite sports team loses the big game.

This type of behavior is a normal part of being human. The problem is that without a little grounding, we can get carried away and find ourselves in a toxic, negative feedback loop. We start to focus on negativity and soon even start looking for reasons to be upset.

Charity is a powerful way to instill gratitude and gives us a chance to refocus our perspective. It is hard to feel sorry for yourself and get upset over minor inconveniences when you understand that there are people who are really in need of help in the world.

This type of clarity brings us peace and thankfulness for the many things that we tend to take for granted. You then start to notice just how amazing and blessed you are to be in your situation. As a result, the negative feedback loop that you may be carrying around dissipates and things like traffic jams become a lot more tolerable.

Simply put, charity is a doorway to joy.

Choosing to Make a Difference

Charities are also a great way to make a difference in the issues that you care about.

We all have interests in the world that we would like to make an impact on. Charity is a direct way to that impact. Even if it’s a small contribution – it adds into the larger scheme of things that brings about real effects.

For example, with Wayside Waifs, we help distraught animals find loving homes, and help bring happiness to families who are searching for a pet. But there are other charities that pertain to specific challenges that others might care deeply about. Pollution of our oceans, helping rehabilitate wounded veterans, providing resources to impoverished peoples in local communities – there are plenty of charities that specialize in addressing worthy causes that we face as a planet.

Charity is a tool that we can use to make the differences we wish to see.

Charity is Worthwhile

There are countless other aspects in which charity provides a direct benefit to the individual, as well as our world. Charity reduces stress, helps our friends and neighbors, improves our communities in ways that we can enjoy, gives us hope and makes life better for everyone involved.

I would highly encourage readers to consider taking the time to think about ways that they can give back – large or small. It all makes a difference.

If you have a specific charity that you are involved in, or if you can think of more ways to contribute – let us know in the comments below.

Sincerely,

Michael Gortenburg

~ Michael Gortenburg Kansas City, Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Group (18CG)

Gifts for the Hard-to-Gift People

Hello readers, and greetings from Kansas City!

The other day as I was thinking about some of the coolest tech gadgets that I have seen recently, I naturally thought of people that might enjoy some of the items on the list.

It led me to think of those people in our lives who are hard to buy gifts for. As we get older, it can be difficult to find gifts for people. Gifting turns into a game of trying to surprise the person with a thoughtful gesture, a funny novelty, or a handy item that they will actually use in their day-to-day.

But this can be challenging, especially if we’re pressed for time. I thought that it would be fun to share a quick list of failsafes that work for most people with any lifestyle or background.

Imported Coffee

High-end, imported coffee is a great gift for any person over the age of 25. Almost every adult lives off of coffee, and what better way to start the day than with a premium cup. A premium bag of imported, luxury coffee beans won’t cost you very much and it’s the kind of thing that most people don’t have in their home. This makes a great gift for a boss or co-worker in your office.

Exotic Wine

People often bring a bottle of wine to a dinner party or as a housewarming gift, but it also makes a great birthday, Christmas or casual gift as well. Anyone who enjoys wine will always welcome a new bottle that they haven’t tried – and if they already have a full case, they’ll never turn down another addition. Try to go for an imported wine or an exotic blend that they typically wouldn’t go for. It will give them an excuse to try it and may introduce something new that they’ll enjoy.

Travel Journal

Do you know someone who enjoys traveling and takes a lot of pictures of the places they’ve explored? If so, a travel journal is a unique and thoughtful item that they might actually use. It is a journal of sorts that they can use to document their experiences and include their favorite moments and memories from their trips. They can also include any photographs that they may have as well – but in 2019, they are probably in digital format, which also gives you the opportunity to include a disposable camera – if you can still find them.

Stylish Backpack/Shoulder Bag

Another gift to get any travelers in your life, backpacks and shoulder bags are great items that we can all use but may not necessarily take the time to purchase. A lot of times when people go on trips, they may want to opt for something more mobile than a luggage case but less formal than a briefcase. Backpacks and shoulder bags are the perfect compromise. They allow anyone to store their stuff and take it with them wherever they go. You’ll get extra points if you pick a stylish option.

Board Games

If the person you’re shopping for has a family or likes to host parties with friends – board games are a great option to pick up, and one that they’ll have fun using. You can go for the classics like “Monopoly” or “Life,” but you run the risk of them already owning those, so try to go for games that are new additions or are more unique. The great thing about gifting board games is that it can open an opportunity for you to enjoy time with the person while playing them.

Portable Speakers

For any music lovers in your friend group, you can get them a portable speaker. These have vastly improved over the last several years and can be found for a very affordable price. On top of that, they are extremely handy. People can use portable speakers when they go for a swim at the pool or beach, or grilling out with family, or even working on cars. This is another gift idea people will find themselves using more often than they think and will thank you for later.

Candles

These are a great option for anyone in a pinch. People who don’t own candles always wish they had them and will use them when they’re around. They’re a nice gesture that no one will say no to. They’re also very inexpensive and it can be useful to have when the power goes out.


Hopefully this list will give you some ideas that you can fall back on when it comes time to getting a gift for that person in your life that has it all. They’re timeless options that are practical and have real use in everyday life.

Do you have your own ideas to share? Let me know in the comments!

~ Michael Gortenburg Kansas City, Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Group (18CG)

Living in a Plastic World

Whether you love spending time in nature or rarely see the light of day, one thing that we can all agree on is that it’s important to preserve the environment. It’s a hot button issue these days that weighs on almost everyone’s mind, and for good reason. As the world advances industrially, we’ve began to notice just how much pollution we are putting out on a global scale and it’s a tragedy.

Perhaps the biggest culprit of global pollution is the use of plastics. Piping, bags, electronics, containers, straws, plates, bottles, wrappers – almost every industry and aspect of modern convenience makes use of plastics. It is the go-to material for industries like packaging and manufacturing because of its cheap production costs and general usefulness.

But no matter how convenient plastics may be for our lives, it is affecting our environment in ways that are hard to imagine. As most plastics are non-biodegradable, it poses a very real problem for future generations, wildlife and natural ecosystems all over the planet. Plastics collect and destroy marine life when they reach oceans, they clutter and contaminate rivers, they endanger land animals. Plastics also commonly contain toxic chemicals that seep into the soil and water of our neighborhoods. On top of it all, nothing ruins the beauty of our world more than piles of multi-colored junk.

The threat of ocean pollution from plastics is so high, that some experts believe that we may eventually have more plastic in the oceans than fish.

This problem doesn’t just come from the United States – in fact, most ocean pollution can be contributed to manufacturing powerhouses like India and China. We are experiencing a global crisis that will require a global effort to address.

Shifting to Other Materials

As mentioned above, the heavy reliance on plastics in almost every industry can largely be attributed to the low cost and flexible use of the synthetic material. Companies can create gadgets, furniture, or other items for an inexpensive rate – then upsell the product for a profit at the market.

But while this may be the most profitable move on the part of businesses, it simply is not worth the long-term cost to our planet. One approach to addressing the crisis is to shift manufacturing towards natural and eco-friendly materials, like wood, glass and metal. There are many advantages to switching to these types of materials. They’re more natural, easier to recycle for multiple uses and easier to dispose of.

Of course, we also have to be responsible in regard to maintaining our forests – but preparing and maintaining forests is easier than sending the world into a plastic death spiral. Additionally, there will be an added cost to products as businesses will have to spend more in manufacturing their products, but that is a reality that we will all eventually confront one way or another.

If we have to rely on plastics, there are in fact eco-friendly synthetics that we can use. There are ways to manufacture plastics out of natural materials like corn, instead of relying on petroleum. They too might be a little more expensive and harder to find, but as consumers become more environmentally conscious – businesses will likely adapt.

Recycling

The other immediate alternative is to encourage sweeping recycling efforts. The good news is that this process has been underway for a couple of decades and is only getting stronger as younger generations are waking up to the issues that will affect their world. Most kids these days are being taught about the importance of recycling in their schools and the effects of plastic on our environment.

This education is slowly starting to emerge. It’s now commonplace to see paper bags being used at grocery stores and cities are making an effort to make recycling a more convenient option for their citizens with increased recycling centers and organized programs.

Industries of all types are also starting to switch from paper to digital solutions for their day-to-day needs. Sure, many of our electronics rely on limited natural resources and still make use of plastic – but the digitization of our workspaces saves a lot of plastic from being used.

Continued Education

Ultimately, it will require a continued effort in education to raise awareness about our environment and its long-term health.

And there are actionable steps that we can take. You may consider joining or donating to reputable organizations that seek to make a difference. You can also talk with friends and family to encourage them to take action in their lives in practical ways. Just maintaining an awareness of the issue will naturally inspire change and every little effort adds up to build massive results.

We all want the same thing: a clean, beautiful and natural world that can sustain generations to come. Together, I am optimistic that we can achieve that vision.

~ Michael Gortenburg Kansas City, Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Group (18CG)

Cool Tech Gadgets Worth Checking Out in 2019

As someone who grew up working in auto shops and as an investor – I’ve always been fascinated by all types of technology. And since the internet’s big takeoff in the 90’s, we’ve seen an explosion in the tech sector, changing everything from how we listen to our favorite music to navigating traffic.

Today, I thought we would take a look at some of the coolest gadgets that I’ve seen recently. Some of them make great gift ideas. Others are just interesting as a concept and could become game changers on a larger scale.

Wireless Charger

When I first heard about wireless chargers – I saw them as more of a novelty item for tech geeks to display on their desks, or for the laziest among us to just charge their phones. But they have drastically improved over the last couple of years.

I recently tried one out at a store and immediately saw the appeal. You simply lay your phone down directly on the charger and it effortlessly begins to charge. Sure, it may not be entirely necessary, but it is satisfying.

Sleep & Wake Therapy Lamp

Like most people, I love to catch up on my sleep. Things can get busy very quickly running Eighteen Capital Group (18CG) here in Kansas City, so it is vital for me to get a decent rest everyday. And nothing is worse than being woken up by a blaring alarm clock and hitting snooze over and over.

Well, somebody has come up with a solution. I recently discovered the perfect to start the day – it’s called a “smart lamp.” The lamp is designed to mimic the gentleness of a natural sunrise, helping the sleeper come alive at a slower and less startling pace. It’s very different than waking up with a jolt.

AirPods (or similar items)

We’ve all seen them – Apple’s new AirPods that seem to be sweeping the nation in popularity. Everyone is jumping on board of this craze – making the speculation alone reason to give them a try. What’s more is that everyone who tries them says that they are the greatest Apple product since the iPhone.

It may be trendy, but if that many people swear by them, then it might be worth checking out. The one thing that might be stopping some people from jumping on board the bandwagon is the hefty price tag, but being able to talk and listen to headphones handsfree might be worth it.

Touch Screen Gloves

It’s not uncommon for temperatures to dip into the freezing category in Kansas City. Everyone wears winter clothes to protect themselves, but that can be a problem as gloves make it hard to use touch screen devices. Luckily, they make touch screen gloves.

They’re very inexpensive and come in some nice designs, like the all leather driving-style gloves. With these, you could keep your hands warm in the wintertime, actually use your phone or other electronic device and look stylish all at the same time.

Dog Door Collar

Tech doesn’t just expand to us humans – now even our pets are getting in on the convenience. One thing that I would recommend for dog lovers out there who have inside dogs, is the automatic dog door collar.

The door itself may require installation, but once everything is setup, the dog is able to let themselves in or out as often as they’d like, whenever they’d like. The dog simply approaches the door and the electric scanner picks up the signal and lets them in or out. This gadget is definitely a game changer for dog owners who are tired of having to monitor them all day.

Drones

Not really a “tech gadget” for the average person per se – however, a great invention and fun toy nonetheless. When drones first came out, they were large, expensive and it took dedication to learn out how to operate them. But as the years have gone on, these aspects have improved.


Today, you can purchase a standard camera drone for $70 at your local Best Buy. They’re outfitted with great cameras and have a user-friendly design that most people can use intuitively. They are extremely fun to play with to get a birds’ eye view of locations, and even have professional uses in real estate. If you have the chance and the curiosity, I would highly recommend checking these out.

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So there you have it, a handful of tech gadgets that are useful, interesting and attainable for the average person. Do you have any that you’d like to recommend? If so – let me know in the comments section below.

Until next time!

~ Michael Gortenburg Kansas City, Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Groupl (18CG)