End of Year Lists and Resolutions
I hate resolutions, so we’ll skip that. I like to look back and review what went right and what didn’t and why.
What went right . . . a lot.
Personal Everest climbed.
I published my first book. It had some nice success on Amazon in its initial marketing stage. It has opened a variety of interesting doors in the “wealth” space. It has helped me go from being a cog in someone else’s P&L into a burgeoning voice in the industry. I will write a separate post on whether a book is useful or not, but the process from beginning to end was a major driver of personal growth. Here’s another link to it: WEALTH, ACTUALLY
New Odyssey started
I’ve started a new business around the book. We all think we can be entrepreneurs. I’m learning firsthand (at age 45) what I’m good at and what I’m not . . . in real time. It’s hard, it’s extremely scary, it’s fun. It has been a lesson in teamwork (which would seem to be counterintuitive to the prejudice of fiery, charismatic “Founders”). This deserves its own post as well.
I left a firm after 16 years near the top of my game on my own terms to create something myself. This was not easy to do. Loyalty is a real thing. So is corporate inertia. I desperately wanted to help make my former firm a modern, cutting edge place that was a leader in the industry. They didn’t and that mindset was becoming toxic for me. My energy was better invested in myself, my clients and other endeavors that would benefit from and appreciate my attention. It was time for me to go. I planned, I saved, I mitigated as much risk as I could, I held my breath and closed my eyes . . . and jumped. I left on my own terms and as the #2 producer in my division. I don’t know what the future holds, but that was the best move I could have made. I’m dangerous again. I had missed that.
Recent skills developed
My podcasting and interviewing has improved this year . . . this has opened the door to a host of new contacts, experiences, business opportunities and renewed energy. I always wanted to be the lead singer for Van Halen. While it is better for everyone that that didn’t happen, the urge to be on stage and to bring out other great stories hasn’t gone away. I hope to incorporate more of that going forward. Additionally, the book experience has taught me a great deal about the media, publishing and PR industries.
It turns out my relationship management, business development and marketing/communications skills have had some overlap into my new life. I have worked with a variety of clients on message development, media production and other wealth strategy and qualitative issues. This has put me in front of a whole new type of client, both advisor and end-user. The book and blog writing armed me with the confidence that I wasn’t an actor playing a role, but an advisor drawing on training and experience to make others better. The podcasting made me better at asking questions and developing better stories and narrative. Developing broader connectivity to the media world, the legal world and other advisor channels made me a better. I talk a lot about worrying about the name on the back of the jersey because the big firms spend a lot of time and resources on the front. Starting my own business made me walk the walk. Clients pick up on that. The network has grown and my old relationships have new energy. It all started with investment in myself.
Seeing another new country: Colombia.
I didn’t made it to Medellin or Bogota, but Cartagena and the surrounding islands were a good start. It’s a beautiful place. There are lots of hidden pockets and trip tips, but I’ll start with couple. Casa Pestagua is a terrific place to stay. Get to the Havana Club early. Without fail, make sure to have a long dinner at La Trivola. Find a way to visit an island while you are there- the further out the better. Bring extra sunscreen and brush up on your Spanish. If you live in NYC it’s a 5 hour direct flight- no excuses! Cartagena is perfect for a long weekend (for naughtiness or with a significant other!). 4 Days is the perfect timeframe and it isn’t that expensive.
My Foray into the Movie World
(Yup, that’s me in the picture!) My pals Eric Ford Holevinski and Kris Maxx finally got a distribution deal for “The Restaurant”. I met Eric at screenplay camp through Taliesin Nexus (which I’m now on the board- the group does great work in helping artists create media centered around the theme of liberty). For Eric’s first feature length film, I said I would help, but only if I was the first one killed. He obliged and, now, the film is getting a worldwide release. I couldn’t be happier for Eric and Kris. This, of course, represents my big screen debut as “Victim Alpha”. I’ll get more information about the release but it should be some time in March. Here’s the trailer:
The near completion of “Stay Alive”.
I have been a part of a graphic novel that is near completion. It is almost 100 pages long. Its naughty horror/comedy of the 70’s/80’s vintage. I think it’s also pretty clever. My co-writer and I have invested a lot of time and resources in it and the art which comes from Stephen Baskerville, by way of Bath, England, is simply amazing. This has been one of the coolest experiences ever. While I can’t call it “done”, the end is in sight and it will be time to align with the right publisher. Here is a little taste:
5 birdies in a 74 at Bedford.
A back nine 37 to sneak into qualifying after a disastrous front nine 45.
3 birdies in a 79 at LACC (not including a 4th on 18 where it was dark and I hit my approach 2 feet to the wrong green; replayed it and made par). Los Angeles Country Club is a magical golf course. Terrific in every way- the US Open there in a couple of years will be extra special.
My experience teaching entrepreneurship at Kern Valley State Prison was transformative. More about that here.
Trust and respect
(Stolen from Josh Brown) Build an audience, Control the message distribution, convert from fan to client, enhance/expand the offering.
Social Media: LinkedIN has been really helpful from a business and a CRM network expansion tool; I am reinvigorated w/r/t Twitter as a broadcasting medium; Facebook is another good channel (mostly for actual social interaction), but it is still declining in importance for me . . . Instagram, though I still don’t understand the metrics and its effectiveness is increasing even more for me.
What Didn’t Work . . . Not Much
I probably should have left my employer sooner, but I can’t really complain about my timing. I left successfully and on my own terms. Not many people can say that. I have had zero regrets about any part of that decision.
It is much more of a team sport than I imagined. Josh Brown gave me some great advice that I didn’t understand until later: “Getting people to buy the book isn’t the problem, it’s getting people to read it.”
Diet and Fitness
As I start making veering into the back nine of life (unless the singularity will keep my wit and wisdom on a hard drive somewhere), my diet and exercise need to improve. I have no excuses (and, apparently, some deferred maintenance), so it’s time to recommit to some better habits and get my weight etc into crooked numbers. The good news is that my wonky hip and knee seem to be better with a more aggressive stretching regimen and I like Shadowboxing as a fast way to work up a sweat.
I spend way too much time in front of screens and going down rabbit holes. The good news is that I read voraciously. The other good news is that a lot of it was research or useful reading to effectuate other goals. The bad news is that a lot of it is arcana or junk. I have to put the phone away more- although this is at odds with the direction of marketing in the wealth world. I did finally jettison fantasy football, so that shaved off a lot of jibberjabber and wasted Sundays. I need to set better boundaries around internet use.
2018 was a year of uncomfortable change. But it was also a year of important development- hopefully the year of my wriggling free from the cocoon to go onto greater things. I’m optimistic and energized going into 2019. Here is some interesting media I consumed below . . .
Bad Blood, John Carreyrou (Excellent- Best of the Year),
Water, Steven Solomon (Interesting),
Pell Heist, Norb Vonnegut (Fun),
From Here to Financial Happiness, Jonathan Clements (Helpful, Interesting)
None of My Business: P.J. Explains Money, Banking, Debt, Equity, Assets, Liabilities, and Why He’s Not Rich and Neither Are You, P.J. O’Rourke (Fun)
Change-Up, Buck Martinez (Fun),
The Bank Investor’s Handbook, Nathan Tobok (Helpful),
The Geometry of Wealth, Brian Portnoy (Excellent),
Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain (Excellent),
The Slicing Pie Handbook: Perfectly Fair Equity Splits for Bootstrapped Startups, Mike Moyer (Helpful),
Infinity Gauntlet, Jim Starlin (Fun),
Big Mistakes: The Best Investors and Their Worst Investments, Michael Batnick (Interesting),
Blockchain Basics, A NonTechnical Introduction in 25 Steps, Daniel Drescher (Excellent)
Our Way, The Life Story of Spike Yoh, Bill Yoh (Interesting),
Win Bigly, Scott Adams (Fun)
Mr. President, Norb Vonnegut (Fun),
Live Right and Find Happiness: Life Lessons and Other Ravings, Dave Barry (Fun),
Beta-Ball: How Silicon Valley and Science Built One of the Greatest Basketball Teams in History, Erik Malinkowski (Interesting)
The Best Investment Writing: Selected Writing from leading Investors and Authors, Meb Faber (Interesting)
Full Cast and Crew, Jason Cilo and Chris Hayes
Animal Spirits, Michael Batnick and Ben Carlson
The Pivot, Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway
Rake: The Last Season of Cleaver Green (Fun, Excellent)
Perfume: German murder mystery centered around smell (Excellent)
Call My Agent: French farce about the movie industry- (Fun and Excellent)
Ozark: A dizzy second season, but still really good (Fun)
Birdbox: Horror movie centered around Cloverfield like concept (Ok)
Daredevil Season 3: Excellent finale centered around Bullseye and Kingpin (Fun, Excellent)
2018 Final Thoughts
RIP George Bush, Paul Allen, Milos Forman, Aretha Franklin, William Goldman, Stephen Hawking, Ricky Jay, Margot Kidder, Stan Lee and Steven Ditko, Ursula Le Guin, Penny Marshall, John McCain, Stan Makita, Dolores O’Riordan, Burt Reynolds, Kate Spade, Mort Walker, Tom Wolfe. I’m sure I missed a few!
“Vice” wasn’t very good.
The American Political System is being tested at many levels and it is performing exactly as it should. The economy, while not perfect, seems to be moving forward in a challenging international environment.
10-20% of me likes the idea of someone like Trump slapping around the Washington Political Industrial Complex. 80-90% of me is horrified that it’s him. He is built to survive from transaction to transaction, at any cost. The rest of the world is understanding what New Yorkers already knew.
April 15th will be an interesting day when people see what their new tax liabilities really are.
We are in inning 1 of a coming healthcare shock in this country that has been decades in the making.
Driverless cars won’t make much of a dent in 2019 (see what I did there?), but they will in 2020.
GOOD LUCK IN 2019