Noise, Noise, Noise

Jeff Bernier |

By: Jeff Bernier

Combine a VUCA (Volatile Uncertain Complex Ambiguous) world with 24/7 media, social media, and entrenched tribes and you get a lot of NOISE! Read on to learn how Jeff believes we can move forward in a positive way through being clear on what we believe and listening to others.






“And then! Oh, the noise! Oh, the noise! Noise! Noise! Noise!
There's one thing I hate! All the NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!”

The Grinch, How the Grinch Stole Christmas


The United States Army War College introduced the notion of VUCA to describe the world following the end of The Cold War. The acronym itself wasn’t created until much later to describe or to reflect on the volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity of general conditions and situations. More recently, it has taken root in describing the world we know today as we make strategic decisions in a time of great volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. 

Clearly, 2020 has been a year of great volatility – socially, politically, economically, and in the investment markets. 

Here are a few major events (some you may have already forgotten about) this year:

  • Massive Hong Kong protest of more authoritarian laws from Mainland China
  • U.S. strike in Iran kills Qasem Soleimani
  • Ukraine International Airlines flight shot down by Iranian armed forces
  • Impeachment trial of President Trump
  • The COVID-19 pandemic and global shutdown
  • Stock markets decline around the word with U.S. market down 35%
  • Recession and massive unemployment due to shutdown
  • Heated debates over pace of re-opening the economy
  • Protest and riots around the country following the death of George Floyd
  • The first crewed flight takes off from the U.S. since the retirement of the space shuttle program in 2011
  • The 2020 presidential campaigns go into full swing in a divided country


A couple of weeks back a client emailed me asking what might be next in what seems a crazy year—an alien invasion?

Combine a VUCA world with 24x7 media, social media, and entrenched tribes and you get a lot of noise.  Is it just me, or does there seem to be a lot of noise right now? And most of it negative. If we are not careful, it can even get to the most optimistic of us.

With the evolving pandemic along with protest and riots, our country is certainly going through a difficult period. Some are comparing 2020 to the year 1968, another year of great turmoil and challenge. Like in 1968, I remain optimistic that we will learn the important lessons from all of this and move forward as the resilient and generally good people we are. 

Many years ago, I read Simon Sinek’s book, Start With Why. In the book, he wrote “say what you believe and you will attract the people who believe what you believe”.  This is an interesting quote in these VUCA times. I could not agree more. We must be clear on what we believe and our core principles and values. We should be able to present these with clarity and conviction. However, in this environment, it is also critical that we listen to people who do not believe what we believe and try to understand their perspective. If we listen to people with other perspectives, and do not just assume that they have evil intent, I believe we can move forward in a positive way. 

In this noisy season, I certainly do not want to add to the noise but would like to state a few things I believe:

  • I believe that we were all created by a God that loves us.
  • I believe that we are all created equal, that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. 1
  • I believe that my (our) ego or “false self”, gets in the way of living the life God wants.
  • I believe that we were created for a purpose.
  • I believe that life is a journey to discover and pursue this divinely inspired purpose.
  • I believe that many of us have either not found this purpose or, sadly, fail to pursue it due to financial considerations.
  • I believe that TandemGrowth Financial Advisors is my platform to help others create clarity and confidence.
  • I believe that personal, economic freedom and capitalism is the best system ever created for most people to live a life of economic security and dignity.
  • I believe that many people fail in their financial and investment planning due to behavioral mistakes driven by emotion rather than rational thought processes – that managing emotions and behavior is just as important as managing money.
  • I believe that most people would benefit from financial planning.
  • I believe in times like today (a VUCA world) that staying true to time-tested, evidence-based principles is essential.
  • I believe that many people would benefit from a relationship with a caring, competent financial advisor to assist in making decisions during uncertainty. (I know, a bit self-serving – but hey, it’s what I believe.) Here is a short video Dimensional Fund Advisors put together to illustrate this point.


Thanks for reading. If we can be a resource or assist in any way, please do not hesitate to reach out to me or our team. If you know someone who may benefit from our services, please feel free to share this link for a complimentary call.

And remember:
“If we're adding to the noise
Turn off your stereo, radio, video”

Lyrics from the song Adding to the Noise by the band Switchfoot


  1. Paraphrased from The Declaration of Independence
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