Hidden deep within my 6 year old Aluminum uni-body Macbook is a message. A Speech. The Speech. I am not sure if anyone has viewed and/or read, but I have re-read the speech, today. It has been one of the most powerful speeches given, with high emotions, deep thoughts that happen and clearer yet foggy reflection. Steve Jobs delivered something ever so powerful to us and I, I am moved. Connecting the dots
This is the first story from Steve’s great memoir. Connecting the dots in life can only truly happen in rewind, when you are – wherever you are and you look in the rearview of what in the world happened to place you where you are today. Have you made connections with events to your life that have brought you to the spot you currently are in? I’m a 26 year old Italian guy from Akron, Ohio. Where I currently am: Single, own a single-family residential home (going on 3 years), have a dividend portfolio valued at approximately $112K, have total income in the 70%+ percentile of the US, am in-shape (though I feel I could be better) and have a current dividend income stream approaching $4K. How did I get there? I am single due to me being picky about the girls that I think about dating, that it’s hard finding someone who can care about me as much as I can care about them and that I’ve been traveling for over 50% of the business days during the year. I own a home because I never moved out in college, knew that I wanted to build some wealth if I lived outside of my family’s home and knew that owning a home can open other opportunities such as rental income, price appreciation and home equity. My upbringing also led me down these paths as my childhood was close to a poverty level and I had to raise myself at a younger age, almost on my own with little guidance, though I will say – I love you mom and you are the strongest woman I will have ever known in my lifetime. I knew that I wanted to not feel the pain of not having money or wealth or freedom. I knew the struggle, I lived the struggle, I still see the struggle. I invested at the ripe age of 20, and bought a house 3 years later at 23 with no full-time position, just a piece of paper, tenacity and knowing in my mind – I was buying a house and I didn’t care otherwise. I have a portfolio now valued at $112K. How did I get to having that? I learned on my own, I read books, I paid my way to my MBA in Finance, graduating at the age of 23. By the age of 23 I learned much about business and investing. I changed my mind set. Age 23 was a powerful year. I earned my MBA, purchased a house, had a roommate, became a CPA and began working at a public accounting firm, traveling throughout the US; also dated a beautiful woman. The dots that got me to that point were the choices I made with school, with changing my mindset, with the life I grew up in of having nothing and the constant comments, pressure & force of – ‘Lanny isn’t good enough because he didn’t try hard in high school’ or ‘Lanny didn’t go to a top tier-school, and instead, went to a city college – called The University of Akron’. My college guidance counselor in high school didn’t think of me at all and actually she used these words, “You’ll do alright if you go to Akron U, but I’d really like to see you go to John Carroll or a different school”. Did she know that I wasn’t going to pay $32K? Did she know that I had to go to the University of Akron, which no it is NOT called Akron University, to take my little brother to highschool in the mornings and during the summer for football? Did she not know that I was considered a “rock” at our house and that if I left, things could have fallen apart? My thought “she has no idea who she just said that to”. I am a stubborn, competitive as all hell Italian who was born with nothing, went to college with nothing and left with more than you, and definitely her, could imagine. I sit here, with tears dropping on the keyboard, knowing what I went through during my first 23 years. I have started to connect the dots. I gave up partying on weeknights and weekends during my college years, to not be in debt because I could see and lived through what that is like with my mom at home. Instead, I saved my money, paid my way through college and graduate school, and purchased my first investments. I gave up going on any spring break trip, studying abroad or going to my homeland, so that I could study, read more books on investing and improve my financial literacy. I gave up fun & freedom then, to get to where I am right now. Would I change a few things? Sure, but I know who I am, I have grown and matured at a far younger age and know the important things within the life, morals, values and – the quality of life there is to be had. I have connected the dots.
Love and Loss
Ah, love and loss. Steve’s next story and topic. Have you ever loved something or someone so much, only to have it taken away or removed from your life? I won’t go into too many details with my life, but I have loved and have lost many things, family members throughout my journey. I have even loved sports, loved them so much that I went from playing them everyday, to playing barely one time a year. I have had things taken away from me for reasons that only God knows why. But they have all helped me connect those dots to where I am, at this moment, right now. I love investing, teaching and spreading views on financial literacy, frugal lifestyle and focusing on important things with life. My mom’s story of her investment account has a fun twist to it. She lost everything from a “broker” who invested into the tech boom after it busted essentially. I would hear the story everyday for 10 years. She was left with $18 thousand. At the age of 50 that was her life savings. $18 thousand. She lost something. I built a love for investing and financial markets. I’ve used that and have almost doubled it back for her, though it is no where near where she needs it, but it’s getting there, with a solid $1.23K per year in income to boot as well. My love and passion for this helped her and has helped others. No matter what someone says to me about my passions, about my mindset or my philosophy – you can’t change that about me. You can’t change the love I have for this. You cannot shake it. That is what love and loss has also taught me. If you have passions for something in life – no matter what – you cannot shake that. How I treat individuals and relationships – no matter what – you can’t shake the passion and love I have for people and the care and sincerity levels that I show. I have gone through relationships with a handful of women where I gave everything from the bottom of my heart to them and have lost. In the end, the main reason is their level of passion ends up not being on my same level. My desire to give myself for that person has not been reciprocated, you know? What has this taught me though? Patience, it has taught me to be picky, which is why I am single, it has taught me that I would have settled, as why would I want someone who wasn’t willing to love me in an ever so battle to try and outdo my feelings for her, a battle that can’t be won, but only can be enjoyed, and live with that? To love and to lose teaches us a great lesson in life. When you lose in a stock investment situation, you LEARN from those items only to take a better mindset in your continual push of doing what you love. Don’t every be afraid to follow your passions. As it’s better to have lost at something you loved than to have wondered what if. Don’t settle on not having that question answered. Don’t ever settle.
Here is Steve’s final topic. I myself have not encountered a near death experience, but reading and listening to him talk, this will always stick out as a favorite quote, ““If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” We are born here to follow our heart and our passions. How many of us wake up each day and think “gosh this sucks” or “I can’t wait for 5pm” – even when the sun has barely cracked its face through your window? The hell are we doing? Pardon my language through this article, but we need to wake up from all of this. Why the heck do we settle on acting like this every day? Steve said it best, “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” There is no reason we don’t go to bed at night because we were tired from doing something we love, only to be excited to wake up the next day and to DO IT AGAIN. “our time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” Reading this section, of us living someone else’s thinking – say it’s a boss or someone who you think you’re in love with – letting their views and opinions for their own benefit shape your life, your days here – is foolish. A partner told me – Lanny, I don’t think you’ll ever become wealthy enough and you never can be as wealthy as you are here in public accounting. I looked at him with a puzzled look. Are you kidding me? See, a lot of people think and follow these views and opinions. I’m still working at the firm, but don’t believe in that, at all. However, there are individuals that don’t go against the philosophy, that are so afraid to try something new or to be “fired” because the security of a “job” has been their bread and butter. No. We all need to be passionate about our own thinking, our own path and our own results we want to achieve. From a great book called Think and Grow Rich – if we already have the destination in our mind, and are determined to get there, to not settle, no matter what – we will end up making that happen without anyone else deterring or changing that. I hope we all stay that focused and passionate with our goals and our paths to get there. This community here is determined, Bert is determined and I am determined. I believe we need to be less afraid to be ourselves and to be more afraid on being someone else that we aren’t, simply because others push their views on us. I know there is a lot flowing on this page, but it comes down to one final comment…
We should think independently, creatively and to follow our hearts, never settling and to wake up, everyday, excited to achieve something great. As we look back, we will connect the dots and think – that was the path I wanted, that made my heart grow fonder of life and I touched as many people, as possible, along the way… And in Steve’s words “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish”