Personal

  • A Life Worth Living

    I like to alternate between reading fiction and non-fiction. Lately, I’ve been on a big biography kick for non-fiction. Mostly, I’ve been reading about successful entrepreneurs. I’ve always enjoyed stories about people’s lives and combined with my interest in learning about what makes certain businesses and operators successful, it’s a fitting combination. I recently finished “The Snowball” by Alice Schroeder, which is a biography of Warren Buffet. I really enjoyed it. She provides a more complete picture of his life than the carefully curated public image.

    In the book, a direct quote is included from Warren’s response to a student group asking about his greatest success and greatest failure. The quote really stuck out to me. I’ve included it here:

    “Basically, when you get to my age, you’ll really measure your success in life by how many of the people you want to have love you actually do love you.

    I know people who have a lot of money, and they get testimonial dinners and they get hospital wings named after them. But the truth is that nobody in the world loves them. If you get to my age in life and nobody thinks well of you, I don’t care how big your bank account is, your life is a disaster.

    That’s the ultimate test of how you have lived your life. The trouble with love is that you can’t buy it. You can buy sex. You can buy testimonial dinners. You can buy pamphlets that say how wonderful you are. But the only way to get love is to be lovable. It’s very irritating if you have a lot of money. You’d like to think you could write a check: I’ll buy a million dollars’ worth of love. But it doesn’t work that way. The more you give love away, the more you get.”

    There’s some irony in reading that quote from someone who spent their life relentlessly accumulating wealth. Regardless, the spirit of the message certainly resonated with me, and in some ways, because of Buffet’s relentless and successful pursuit of wealth, he’s uniquely well positioned to make such a statement. You can never have too many reminders to prioritize those you love and the quality of your personal relationships above all else.

  • Don’t Settle

    When I moved to Calgary, one of my first tasks was to find a barber. I got a strong referral from Amin and ended up seeing a fellow who did a really good job cutting hair. But he was unbearable in a lot of ways. He’d consistently start ~15-20 minutes later than my appointment. He’d pause mid-haircut to take a phone call or text. He’d talk at me (not with me) for the entire appointment. I’d usually say less than 10 words but be in a ‘conversation’ for nearly 45 minutes. It was painful. And I went to him for almost three years.

    Even though I had intentions to make a change, I was lulled into complacency, because the haircut itself was good and it usually fell to the bottom of the priority list to seek something better. It took COVID as the catalyst for me to find someone new. And after I did, I was mad at myself for waiting so long. Now I get as good a cut and have a way better experience.

    The older you get, the more professional services people you start to accumulate in your life. I’m not that old, and my list is already long. I’ve got a family doctor, dentist, barber, accountant, veterinarian, massage therapist, real estate agent, contractor, carpenter, landscaper, bike service person, house cleaner, dog walker, and dog sitter. And I have probably five stories like the barber one, where finding someone great in the service category and leaving someone who wasn’t has made a huge difference.

    Nearly every time I’ve changed service providers, it’s been a result of some outside force – like my person moving – instead of something I’ve done deliberately. And every time I think, why didn’t I find an alternative sooner. Finding amazing professional service providers can have a meaningful impact on your life. I was reminded of that this week; don’t settle. It’s worth spending the time to seek someone great.

  • Always Connected

    Airplanes were a last bastion of being truly off grid. No service and completely inaccessible.  Sadly, that’s changing quickly. It seems the majority of planes are now equipped with WiFi, as well as free in-plane text messaging. The airlines are servicing our need and desire to always be connected.

    This makes me sad. I have always loved being disconnected on an airplane. There’s something calming about knowing you’re completely unreachable for a set period. No temptation to scroll or chat or respond to anyone. It’s an easy place to leave distractions behind and it’s always been one of my favourite places to read or get focused work done. So it’s a shame to see the last mile become connected. I know using connected services is a choice that requires opt-in but the more convenient the service becomes, the more deliberate a choice needs to be to avoid using it.