October 16, 2015


Posted in Financial Planning tagged , , , , , , at 3:09 pm by Iris Mack Dayoub


Elle Décor, one of my favorite magazines, provides me with inspiration, creativity, color and design. Each issue has a one-page article, “12 Things <Name> Can’t Live Without” that features a well-known designer with descriptions and photos of their favorite things. The list usually includes at least one museum or vacation destination along with books, clothing, cars, scents, restaurants, wines and jewelry.

We recently had a discussion in our office about the difference between money and wealth. We could also have a conversation about the difference between surviving and living. We all know the basic needs for survival:  oxygen, water, food, shelter, sleep. But to live life to the fullest, to thrive and grow we need more than the basics.

After reading a recent issue of Elle Décor, I started my own list of “things I can’t live without.” By adding photos and descriptions to a page in my Evernote app, it has evolved into a Gratitude Journal.

A friend has increased my enthusiasm for the venture by adding her “Daily Delight” posts to Facebook. She recently posted DD#937!

Making an intentional effort to recognize things for which I am grateful increases the likelihood that I will meet my goal of living life to the fullest.

August 20, 2015

The Science of Happiness

Posted in Financial Planning at 2:45 pm by Iris Mack Dayoub


I love science and all things scientific. One of the most significant influences in my business life has been the adoption of a scientific approach to investing. Using the research of Nobel Prize winners has helped our clients achieve their financial goals. I make it a point to read, research, and apply the findings of science to every aspect of my life.

What a thrill to find a scientific approach to happiness. It all started with a presentation by Henry S. Miller at a conference for financial advisors. He tells us that his book, The Serious Pursuit of Happiness, was written to be a prescriptive, one-stop happiness shop with everything you need to know to begin living a happier and more fulfilling life.

The ultimate promise of the book is to provide the reader with everything psychologists, researchers, and other scientists around the world have found that people need to know to thrive. The paths and actions recommended are all substantively research-based.

His approach was to “research the research” and then use the findings as the basis for his writing. He includes published findings from over four decades of happiness research, the latest research from the newest branch of psychology, positive psychology, which is the scientific study of what is good about people and life, and the latest breakthroughs in biology, genetics, and neuro-science.

His synthesis of all this research leads to six imperatives:

  • Seek pleasure within limits
  • Intentionally think happy
  • Intentionally act happy
  • Become a better person
  • Embrace Loving Connections
  • Make a meaningful contribution

His simple wish is to help as many people as possible live happier and more fulfilling lives – while also helping to popularize the new and promising field and research of positive psychology.

Henry S. Miller is President of the Henry Miller Group, LLC, an organization transformation training and consulting firm dedicated to helping individuals, companies, and other organizations improve performance and productivity specifically by increasing the levels of individual well-being.

The Serious Pursuit of Happiness: Everything You Need to Know to Flourish and Thrive. Wisdom House Media, 2013.

January 2, 2015

The Question

Posted in Behavioral Finance, Financial Planning tagged at 9:51 pm by Iris Mack Dayoub

When someone inquires about our services, we schedule a Discovery Meeting to learn more about them. At the end of that meeting I always ask the following question:

         Suppose it is a year from now.  What would have to happen during that year for you to look back and say that hiring Alpha as your financial guide was one of the best decisions you ever made?

I thought it was a unique way to get clarification on what Alpha needs to do to make sure goals are realized.

Then I came across a copy of a little book by Dan Sullivan, the founder of The Strategic Coach, who writes about this question:

If we were having this discussion three years from today, and you were looking back over those three years, what has to have happened in your life, both personally and professionally, for you to feel happy with your progress?

The Dan Sullivan Question: just asking will change your life / Dan Sullivan / Toronto, Canada 2011

Entering the New Year is another great opportunity to look ahead and imagine the end of 2015. What would have to happen for you to be happy? Years ago, Janice Gantt led the first of what became an annual ritual for many of her friends. Janice would guide each of us to write a letter to ourselves in the first person as if it was the end of the year. The letter covered many aspects of our lives – personal, professional, emotional, spiritual, and physical. As we were writing she would quietly suggest topics and ideas to inspire us to think about what was really meaningful to us. Of course, if you knew Janice, you would guess that she included lots of ideas to have fun along the way. Even though Janice was taken from us by cancer, many of us continue the ritual of writing a letter, sealing it in an envelope and asking someone to mail it to us the day after Thanksgiving. I will write my letter this weekend.

February 1, 2013


Posted in Behavioral Finance, Financial Planning, Investments, Women and Money at 5:33 pm by Iris Mack Dayoub

Apple for Blog

According to the Bible, hunger for knowledge is what got Adam and Eve into a heap of trouble.  One bite of the apple and so began the bad dream that has tormented us ever since:  namely, finding ourselves trying to explain ourselves to the Boss when we are stark naked.

Unfortunately, not much more was heard from the first couple after their exile.  It’s only now, many millenniums later, that social scientists are discovering that the acquisition of knowledge may have affected the original man and woman in very different ways.   The field of behavioral finance suggests that Adam left the Garden of Eden with a superabundance of confidence, whereas his formerly domineering wife began to seriously doubt herself.

A 1997 study by Beyer and Bowden found that women are less confident about what they know relative to what can be known. Their confidence crisis becomes particularly acute when the “domain is male-oriented.”

Finance, and investing in particular, is certainly one such testosterone-rich domain.  Male investment advisors outnumber female advisors by as much as 4 to 1.  Male investors are more active than women investors, spending more time on security analysis, trading more, and expecting higher returns than do women.  In contrast, a majority of women in a 2005 Merrill Lynch survey said they preferred to spend as little time as possible managing their investments.

But here’s a surprising fact: for all their aversion to investing, women may, in fact, be better at it than men!  A University of California study in 2001 showed that women’s risk-adjusted investment returns beat men’s by an average of 1 percent as a result of their inherent caution.  They trade less, require more information before they invest, and are more apt to learn from their mistakes

Confident investing is critical to women’s financial security.  Their longer lives and lower earnings mean that their portfolios must work much harder than men’s.  Investment success does not – contrary to what most women think – require mastery of vast amounts of technical information, but knowledge of a few basic facts: 

  • Markets are fundamentally risky: no one can know for sure how investments will perform.
  • This risk creates opportunity for higher returns.  A wise investor seeks to manage this risk rather than eliminate it.
  • It’s also prudent to admit that you are not smarter than the next guy or gal.  Once you’ve accepted the fact that you are just an average investor, the idea of average returns begins to make sense.  These returns are available with mutual funds designed to replicate the performance of the broad markets or sectors.  In other words, they do what the market is doing, not more, not less.  But over time, they do a lot better than the individual investor who shoots for the rafters, or hides out in “safe” investments.
  • By being average, and holding average investments, you avoid high expenses, but more importantly, above-average losses.

Ironically, knowing what you don’t know may be the smartest investing strategy of all.   This awareness should inspire more women into taking more risk and becoming more engaged, active investors, as opposed to keeping them on the sidelines.  They don’t need to invest like men to succeed in this male-dominated arena.

Investing like a girl will do just fine.

September 6, 2012

Conventions and Change

Posted in Financial Planning at 1:43 pm by Iris Mack Dayoub

Growing up in West Virginia with my brother and sister, we shared chores. Ironing was one of my favorites for several reasons. I thought it was the easiest of all the jobs, and I got to listen to the radio while ironing. In the summer, it was usually Waite Hoyt giving play-by-play descriptions of the Cincinnati Reds and fascinating stories during rain delays. I recently enjoyed the write up about Waite in Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waite_Hoyt).

Summer time also brought political convention coverage to the radio. Again there were play-by-play descriptions of the delegates engaged in discussion and debate. Back then the candidates for president and vice-president were chosen by the delegates who were elected by the state in an election or at the state convention. There was a lot of anticipation and speculation about who would be chosen to represent their party in the November election. I loved listening to the roll calls as each state would do a commercial about their home. Some of them were very creative and entertaining. It was fun to imagine the hushed conversations in the smoky backrooms where the decisions and compromises were made.  I could see myself attending a convention when I grew up. Changes have occurred over the years, so that now we know far in advance of the conventions who will run. Having a competitive nature, I have lost my desire to attend a convention with a pre-selected nominee.

We are all told that change is good and that we should go with the flow, but sometimes it is easier said than done. I recently read that change is hard and that thinking more about change as transition can ease the pain. Here at Alpha we work with people who are going through a variety of changes. Some of the changes are hard: divorce, death, retirement, changing careers. We want to help our clients visualize what they can experience after the transformation has evolved and plan for the change as a transition to something attractive while making the journey as joyful as possible.

PS – After writing about Waite Hoyt, an internet-search for a recording of his voice led me to an 85-minute documentary “Waite’s World” directed and narrated by Donn Burrows at www.docustreet.com.


August 14, 2012

O Sport

Posted in Financial Planning tagged , , , at 11:31 am by Iris Mack Dayoub

“O Sport, you are Beauty! … O Sport, you are Justice! … O Sport, you are Happiness! The body trembles in bliss upon hearing your call! …”

— Baron Pierre de Coubertin

Many of my friends will be surprised when I tell them that one of my favorite competitions in the 2012 Olympics was Poetry. Yes, poetry. Thanks to NPR for reviving the tradition.

Poetry and sport went hand in hand at athletic festivals in the days of the ancient Greeks and during the Modern Olympics from 1896 to 1948. According to Tony Perrottet, author of The Naked Olympics: The True Story of the Ancient Games, the ancient Greeks very much sought perfection in the body and the intellect. Poets of the Greek world would set up stalls or stand on boxes to orate their new work at the Olympic Games.

Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who revived the games in 1896, included music, painting, architecture, and poetry on the Olympic roster. He even anonymously entered his own poem called “Ode to Sport” which won the gold medal in 1912.

This year NPR invited poets to compose original works celebrating athletes and athletics. The first week of the Olympics a new poem was introduced each morning on Morning Edition, giving the audience an opportunity to judge who should win the victor’s laurel crown. The winner was announced on Friday of the last week of the Olympics.

You can read and/or listen to all of the poems along with interviews of the poets on www.npr.com.

Here’s my favorite, Swim Your Own Race, written by South African poet Mbali Vilakazi, a tribute to South African swimmer Natalie du Toit, the first female amputee ever to qualify for the Olympic Games.

There is life here

Beneath the surface tension
of shattered
bones, dreams and splintered muscles
things broken
and those that may never be replaced.

Pulling the weight of it,
you do not tread the water wounded
and in retreat

By the determined strokes of fate
you swim your own race
The shoulder of your strength leaning
against the turn —
the eye that didn’t see that day,
stopping the clock on the vision of your time.
You continue to beat
into the heart of the spectacle
Manchester City, Beijing, Athens and London.

In no ordinary silence
do we watch
our own feared hopes waking
and now, breathless
in awe —
you are unforgettable.

Woman of scars, and triumph
the dance is fluid
tears of loss flowing
towards your many firsts
You are the Order of Ikhamanga
in gold.
A flower,
beautiful and unique
among the baobabs of the land

Your shape shifting,
The disabled-abled body
A quest
untempered by its tests —

“if you want to get there, you go on”

You have already won
You always do
And we do too

We are the believers.

The message in its possibility:

A new freestyle,
Long distance
And in your own lane.

March 27, 2012


Posted in Financial Planning tagged , at 4:30 pm by Iris Mack Dayoub

Its 7:15 a.m. and the leader of the group starts the meeting with a question for all the attendees. Doesn’t sound like fun; but after a cup of coffee, the laughter and retrospection starts as each of us gets a turn to answer.

A few weeks ago the question was: What one thing do you do to maintain balance in your life?

When I think of balance I immediately remember the hours I spent on a seesaw during recess while in elementary school. Two things can happen to make a seesaw balance:  add some weight to the light side or remove something from the heavy side.

Almost all of the responses to the question at that early morning meeting were of the “addition” type. Several people use yoga, another prayer, and some mentioned meditation along with some hilarious ways to unwind

What if taking something off the agenda or removing something from the “To Do” list was an option?

Subtraction possibilities:

  • Emails with “Fwd:” in the subject line
  • Meetings with no purpose
  • Angry Birds

Let me know what you are subtracting.

January 18, 2011


Posted in Financial Planning tagged at 9:43 pm by Iris Mack Dayoub


The introduction to The Artist’s Way at Work: Riding the Dragon  begins with this phrase. The authors, Mark Bryan, Julia Cameron, and Catherine Allen, go on to say:

Intellectual capital – ideas as money, money as ideas – is today the real currency of the business world. This capital is more than technical knowledge or bits and bytes of data. It is a wide range of social, emotional, intuitive, and interpersonal skills that together comprise the creative spirit. It is our goal to bring those skills to fruition, integrate them, and reawaken that spirit.

Now who wouldn’t want to sign on to the program – a twelve-week adventure that will be like riding a dragon: thrilling, joyous, chaotic, and powerful? Everyone here at Alpha Financial Management thought it was a good idea and chose to begin the program at the beginning of the new year.

The aim of the program is to give us a more satisfying, fully creative life in which we feel a sense of camaraderie, not competition. We are promised to become more creative not only in our business life, but in our life as a whole.

I am more than just a little intimidated by the notion that I am going to be working on my creativity. What if I fail? What if my co-workers think my attempts at being creative are any thing but? Well, I am told by the authors that intellectualism is a primary block for many creative people. We are also told that we can expect our intellectual skepticism to be our adversary and constant companion throughout the twelve weeks. In my last blog I encouraged everyone by reminding you that you can do it! So now I am telling myself, I can do it.

So it is OK to be skeptical. I will just keep reminding myself that as the authors emphasize: all of us can become more creative than we already are, and this will make us happier, healthier, more productive, and more authentic in everything we do. By acting – just doing it – I can overcome the skepticism.

January 4, 2011


Posted in Financial Planning tagged , at 8:37 pm by Iris Mack Dayoub

You can do it!

This was one of my granddaughter’s favorite phases when she was 5 or 6 years old. Everyone loved to hear her cheer us on whether we were attempting a back flip off the high diving board or baking a batch of peanut butter cookies. In her teens now, she is still just as encouraging; but when I am alone, working out or working on a difficult project, I can bring up the recording in my memory of her sweet voice to keep me going.

I’m a financial planner and love to let people know that they can do it! People do want to get things done. They want to take actions that are in harmony with their values. They want the feeling of accomplishment. They want the responsibility.

This year, I am on a quest to find more ways to help my clients realize that they can do it. They can set goals; they can make plans to accomplish them; they can engage in a process that is about creativity, balance and motivation.

Financial planning is not an event; it is a process. Making check marks along the way is important. I can be creative in the way I approach the process. I can do it! So can you!

August 13, 2008


Posted in About Us, Financial Planning at 3:20 pm by Iris Mack Dayoub

Iris Mack Dayoub, Ph.D. has been involved in the financial services industry since 1984.  She has a wide background of educational and business experience with a master’s degree in mathematics, a doctorate in mathematics education and many post graduate courses in financial strategies and economics.  She is the founder and president of Alpha Financial Management. 

Much of her success is attributed to individual commitment to her clients, as well as her ongoing pursuit of knowledge and expertise in the rapidly changing field of financial services.  She has shared this knowledge through seminars on the Basics of Investing, Estate Analysis, Retirement Planning and Financial Freedom and has published articles on Asset Allocation and Estate Planning.  Iris has published several articles n national and local journals, appeared on television, and been quoted in Investment News and the Wall Street Journal.

Iris is a Registered Advisor with the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA), the largest nationwide organization of fee-only financial planners.

She serves on the Advisory Board for the College of Business Administration (COBA) of Savannah State University.  She has served on the Financial Committee for the Armstrong Atlantic University Foundation and is currently the Treasurer for the newly formed COBA Foundation.

Iris and her husband, Michael, have five children and twelve grandchildren.  In her leisure time Iris enjoy playing the piano, sewing and competing in triathlons. She became an Ironman in 2005 – swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles, and running 26.2 miles.

She was the Council Director for Girls on the Run of Coastal GA (GOTR_GA), an after-school program for pre-teens that uses the power of running to educate and prepare Savannah area girls for a lifetime of self-respect and healthy living. As of January 1, 2012, she will serve as the Chair of the Board for GOTR-GA to assist the newly appointed Council Director, Sarah Todd. More information can be found at www.girlsontherun-ga.org.

Iris Mack Dayoub, Ph.D.

Iris Mack Dayoub, Ph.D.

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