Saturday, June 18, 2011

That said, this week was pretty cool

Before reading this, you should know that this note is an unstructured collection of random thoughts, aka verbal diarrhea. I only wrote this because I felt like writing what was on my mind. You've been warned.

This past month, I have gotten the opportunity to meet the top management of both Hulu & Netflix. A few months prior I met the CEO of Caterpillar and in a separate occasion had a conference call with Nat Rothschild of "Baron Rothschild" fame. It's all pretty cool stuff and it's fun to see how these Atlas's are moving the world. I'm sure I'm forgetting some other memorable characters, but this evening I'm drawing a blank.

On a separate note, sometimes people like to deride those employed in the financial industry. At one wedding recently (cousin's of my mother in-law) one of the best men said something like "the bride stopped working at Citigroup because she wanted to do something with her life." I don't blame him as it's easy to think it's one big casino where overpaid assholes move around stacks of paper with no value add to society, but I disagree with this perspective. Yet I also disagree with the idea that it's "God's work" as Llyod Blankfein described it. I think the answer is clearly somewhere in between. If pension funds didn't compound their money by investing in hedge funds and other investment products (including ETFs), there would be a lot of burnt out retirees eating dog food into their 70's.

Sometimes in a Mad Hatter sort of moment I try to force myself to imagine impossible scenarios. One of which is what if I didn't work in finance? If this was the case, and I had to restart my career with absolutely no venues for finance (aka I couldn't even be bank teller), I would like to think that I would strive to work at the cutting edge of some industry. Potentially media, energy or computer programming. There would also be the serious risk that I would consider the stable route which I knew would pay well at the expense of having some cool experiences (aka why the suicide rate in dentistry is so high). I would like to think the experience of riding the wave of some game-changing technology would be a lot of fun.

Small Miracles

How the fuck did I get here?

It's a strange moment trying to connect what seems like an infinite string of nearly-impossible events that got me where I am today. Yet somehow, I'm here. And it's not just me. We're all here due to one small miracle leading another.

There's a true story, or so I believe, about my grandfather. I only say "so I believe," because the story passed from word of mouth from my grandfather, to my Dad to me. I trust nearly everything my Dad has told me growing up, and for good reason, so I have no reason to believe that this story is untrue. That said, I have never asked to confirm the story with my grandfather as I sadly don't have the relationship with him where I would be comfortable asking him to relieve some of his most painful experiences.

That said, when he was around my age or younger my grandfather lived and worked and nearly died in a concentration camp. At one point during this nightmare, he was told to march along with hundreds of prisoners. These marches were notorious for their ability to sift through the Jews that still had their strength to work and the more sickly that would be executed as they stumbled and fell behind. Towards the end of one these marches, my grandfather fell. He was exhausted and had begun to accept what would likely be a swift termination. Instead a Nazi guard came to my grandfather and persuaded him to get up and keep going as there was only a short distance left. Now I don't know what it was that re-motivated my grandfather to get up, or even why the Nazi guard would persuade him to, but he did. And from those small miracles, my family is here today.

So on this Father's day, we should not only be appreciative for what our Father's have done, but what all the Father's (and Mother's) before us have done, whether or not we understand what it was or even know why it happened.