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Easy Yes, Hard No

I like to think I am a nice guy. Typically, it works well: when you collaborate with others to help them achieve what they want for a living, being nice fits nicely.

Sometimes, however, you do someone a disservice by being too nice. The yes-man finds himself agreeably approving self-inflicted problems to those he serves. As an advisor first starting to give advice, it was difficult to disagree with someone. My family reading this will be shocked--I grew up loving to disagree and would argue from every point of view but the one offered to me.

Sometimes, the best thing you can do is hold someone accountable. Kicking the can down the road may be easier, but it does no one any favors in the long run. One might say we are in the business of the long run.

My favorite questions I like to ask potential new clients center around what is important to them and their families. 

The Green Shirts and Uncle Albert

I was reading about a researcher named Michael Tomasello, who has long studied what makes us human. A study he conducted compared 2- or 3-year-old children to chimps. When two children were faced with a task that yielded more toys for one than the other, the 'lucky' children in the study would, unbidden, share the extra toys with the other children. Chimps, by comparison, would not: they would keep the extra spoils for themselves.

Headspace

I remember one of my first experiences working with a new client--what he said will likely tint the lens I see the world through forever. 

We both recognized there was a lot to accomplish. In my mind, it was going to be expensive to take care of it all. As one of my first experiences with a high net worth client, I was a little intimidated about telling him the cost. Advanced planning and money management takes time.  

Let me be candid; I was not a little intimidated--I was about to sweat through my clothes from being so nervous. He was an intelligent man, and understood investing quite well. There was a chance he would decide to try to do it himself. 

I Can Be Trained

I still have much to learn as a husband. Brooke and I celebrated 3 years happily married last week, and during that three years she has dutifully trained me in the fine art of being a spouse. She had a great deal of work ahead of her, but I admit she is patient. Looking back, one of the techniques she impressed upon me early on was the delicate nature of giving tactful advice.

Begin Again

I sat there, doing my best to recognize that even if just for a moment, everything was right. There was nowhere else to be, nothing to be done, and no thought or planning that had to occupy my brain.

Just the breath.

At least, according to Sam Harris, the creator of the aptly named meditation app “Waking Up.”

The Paradox of the Giver

As we pulled into the parking lot of the FISH Food Bank off of Burnham Drive, AJ and I noticed a few people picking up food. One was an elderly man by himself; the other was a younger woman with a little girl. You could read their faces much like the first page of a worn, secondhand book. Their faces hinted at difficult lives. 

Circling around the back, we unloaded AJ’s Jeep. This week at the office we ran a food drive and raffled off a few gift cards to local businesses. Two grateful volunteers ushered bags of food and soap into the building. Later AJ said “I think this is a great way for us to help in our community where there’s clearly a need.” 

Ice Cream and Light Bulbs

“There’s a great, big, beautiful tomorrow
Shining at the end of every day
There’s a great, big beautiful tomorrow
And tomorrow’s just a dream away”

-- Disney’s Carousel of Progress

We were once told by our parents not to talk to strangers, don’t share personal information on the Internet, and never get into unfamiliar vehicles. Today, we summon strangers to take trips in unfamiliar vehicles by inputting personal information on the Internet. Oh, and they often come bearing food and expecting tips.

The Gratitude Mile

Tucked away discretely alongside a collection of books are cards written from his own clients. AJ, like me, finds those notes of appreciation more meaningful than nearly anything else in his business. I witness firsthand how many hours he works before someone expresses that kind of gratitude towards him.

My wife Brooke loves to run. Besides consistently hitting the pavement several times a week, she reads running articles and books. One of these books (“Let Your Mind Run” by Deena Kastor) inspired her to begin a gratitude journal this past week. She lists ten things every day that she is grateful for—and the rule is to never repeat yourself

The War Chest

We know you are likely half-inebriated with all the coronavirus news—it has shoved aside most of our priorities and taken center stage. And make no mistake: it is nothing to dismiss. Governments around the world are taking enormous steps to keep citizens healthy, support businesses, and pass legislation to stimulate their economies.

Clouds, Inflation and Sharks

Clouds float past us, light and fluffy, every day. But are they actually light? The average cumulus cloud you see on a sunny day actually weighs about 1.1 million pounds! We know it is possible, but it still seems to defy logic.

Inflation also seems to defy logic. We talk with clients about inflation all the time, yet it remains a difficult idea to keep in mind when we plan for the future.