Tag Archives: values

DADDY | SIR, I GAVE MY WORD or WHAT GIVES YOU FAITH IN HUMANITY

What moves you to tears? What reinforces your faith in humanity? What memories and experiences do you hang onto when you want to recount the great potential of people?

Daddy found greatness in the simplest of things. The food he ate. The jokes he told. The way he lived. He was grateful and thankful for every moment he lived. It’s not that the grandiose was lost on him.

DADDY | 3-12

It’s that the grandiose was very simply, not necessary. Daddy found himself moved to tears and inspired to faith by everyday people, enacting everyday gestures, that reflected character, integrity and the very best of what humanity had to offer.

One favorite example takes us back to 1989. Daddy hadn’t been back to visit India in nearly 20 years. Needless to say, he was due. Our parents were greeted by a friend at the airport. Unfortunately, their friend was ill-prepared to accommodate our parent’s travel habits. Think large Samsonite bags bursting at the seams with zippers and locks screaming for mercy.

After seeing the volume of luggage our parents had with them (consisting of whatever Mom had packed for herself and whatever she had packed for Daddy), their friend realized he wouldn’t be able to move our parents and their luggage without some help. He summoned a “Coolie”, or a porter, in Western terms.

When paying cash for any service in India, you find yourself at the mercy of the servicer. And so the haggling began. The Coolie wanted 10 rupees, their friend offered 5. The Coolie worked his way down from 10, to 9, to 8, to 7 rupees, with the longest debate happening at 6. At the bargain basement price of 6 rupees, the Coolie would have been able to afford breakfast, to fill himself with a cup of tea. Daddy’s friend wouldn’t have it. And soon, as market forces determined, a deal was reached: 5 rupees it would be. With the ‘deal signed’, Daddy’s friend went off to find his car into which the luggage would be loaded, but only after telling Daddy in no uncertain terms, not to offer the Coolie any additional money.

A deal is a deal.

As soon as his friend left, Daddy went directly up to this Coolie and offered him the balance of the 10 rupees. Daddy pulled out his best hustle. For 10 minutes he tried everything to give this man some more money. He told the Coolie that he was rich, that he had spare change he wanted to get rid of–he tried everything. But the Coolie would not take the money. When my father asked the Coolie why he refused to accept additional money, the Coolie responded humbly, simply, firmly:

“Sir, I have agreed to 5 rupees, and I have given my word.”

Daddy, was floored. Brought to tears. Even when Daddy made it clear that he would not mention a word of additional rupees paid to his friend, the Coolie wouldn’t accept the offer. Actually, he couldn’t. He had given his word.

You see, for Daddy, Maslow’s hierarchy is inverted. One’s own physiological needs come last; human decency, a rich and undeniable social contract — one’s principles and one’s word are the foundation upon which lives are built and happiness is achieved. In this Coolie and in this story, Daddy found all that was right in this world. No grand scriptures required. No religious experiences necessary. The simple decency of everyday people carried the greatest weight in Daddy’s eyes. Daddy proceeded to retell this story for decades. Decades.

On February 4, 2018, we lost Daddy, the world’s most honest and straightforward man. The kind of man moved to tears of unfathomable joy, pride, and happiness through a passing interaction, with an exceptional example of a human being.

This Coolie carried our parents luggage for a few moments, but he carried Daddy’s spirit and faith for 29 years more.

Thank you, sir.

——————————–

Last week at our memorial for Dad, we handed out copies of this illustration with the below story printed on its back, instead of a traditional printed program. If you’d like a copy of the printout, DM me and I’ll mail you one. Thank you Oliver Bruehl for the illustration conjured from magic, pure magic.

Note: I’ve collected all the posts and thoughts I’ve shared about my Daddy’s death in one place. Some people have found it helpful as they’ve navigated through their own experiences, or, as they’ve had to step in to support others. This is one in a series, and you can find the full list of posts here.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under daddy

My $.02 | Why I am Joining Help Scout

Apologies. I’m out of practice on the blog front, and I’m writing this stream of conscious style because…I start a new job tomorrow. But I digress. Let’s start with a story?

I’ve been married for 5.5 years now. It’s a long time for some. It’s just scratching the surface for others. For me, it’s the only marriage I’ve known personally. So it’s both the longest and shortest one I’ve been a part of. Funny way of thinking about it.

Periodically, people with poor judgement will ask me the secret to a happy marriage. There’s no secret. One of my favorite pieces of advice is actually to know it’s ok to go to bed angry! Better than saying something stupid. But what I think makes for a successful marriage is how you solve problems. I get along with the entire world when we agree on things. But when the “fit hits the shan”, how do we solve problems together?

In that regard, my wife and I are like lego pieces. She is…a royal pain the *ss when it comes to the smallest decision. Trying to figure out what we’re having for dinner tonight, the night I write this, has been a 3hr 20minute discussion — and we still have no dinner options.

But when it comes to something big? Material? Something that matters? I’m the 2×4 plate to her 2×4 brick (because let’s be serious, she’s the substance of this relationship.) Buying a house. Leasing a car. Moving to North Carolina, and back again. And leaving LiveIntent because something didn’t feel right? Those were conversations that took seconds. A look in the eye. A gut check on the “why” I was making this decision. And then nothing but full, unwavering support for my decision. Even with a second kid on the way, all I got from Priya was “We’ll be fine. Find your happy.”

I don’t want to spend a second on why I left LiveIntent. Matt Keiser was the best person I have ever worked for. The Marketing Team was the best Marketing Team I’ve ever worked with. The people across the company were the best people I’ve ever worked with. It’s been a month and I miss them like hell. But it was the right move.

Early in my career I made decisions based on bosses as mentors. Which is why I have had the benefit of having some absolutely amazing ones. Maria Valez and Mark Macaravage at Prudential. Mary O’Malley at Prudential. Jim Burke at Prudential, DnB, and Global Compliance. Robert Schwartz and Prudential Securities. Kristine Tanno at Prudential Securities. Jordan McConnell at DnB. Steve Hagerty at Hagerty Consulting. Tony Haile at Chartbeat. And Matt Keiser at LiveIntent. I’d say that 9 out of 10 would speak positively of me. And I believe I could still call on 8 our of 10 for a reference today. But I digress. My point is that I picked jobs based on bosses as mentors. But at a certain point, it becomes less about bosses as mentors and more about bosses as collaborators. As peers. As people with shared approaches to decision-making.

I’ve had enough experience in my life to have strong opinions (weakly held, as I steal a line from my new boss, perhaps the line that closed me during the interview process). I’m looking less for mentors and more for people who want to make decisions with me. And who want to make those decisions based on a value system that matches mine.

I found those values and that partner in Nick Francis at Help Scout.

Before I joined LiveIntent, I reached back out to my former bosses and peers and asked their advice. What could I do better. What could I evolve. And they brought the thunder. I internalized all of the feedback I received and approached LiveIntent committed to being hard on myself and committing myself to evolving and changing. I leave LiveIntent confident that I’ve done that. The validation for me is a combination of what the company accomplished while I was there, and the relationships I’ve made and sustained with people since I’ve left.

As I enter Help Scout, it’s almost the opposite. It’s no longer about what I need to change. Because I realize now that there will always be an infinite number of things I can change, do better, improve, etc. I enter Help Scout with clarity about the things I value. The things I don’t want to change. The things I will never change.

  • Man in the Mirror. It might be hokey, but I’m fine with it. And it’s a great f*cking song. But problem solving at every level, especially at the Executive Level has to start with the Man in the Mirror. There’s an honesty and a humility that is necessary to be a leader these days. It is anchored in an honest assessment first and foremost of the role you played as a leader in putting those dependent on you in a position to succeed or fail.
  • Start with why. Every decision that was ever made was somebody making a deliberate choice for an explicit reason. I believe it is imperative to start every discussion by trying to understand why decisions were made. It saves time. It build empathy. And it makes everyone in the room smarter. If you start at the decision and the outcomes first, you set a bad habit.
  • Focus on process over outcomes. I don’t want to get to MoneyBall here, but there’s value in focusing on doing the right things. There will always be one-offs and aberrations but I can’t control for those. I can only make sure we did all the right things along the way. I’m committed to efforts and believe if you play the right game, the long game, the results will follow (and be sustainable and repeatable.)
  • Take care of your people. We’ve gotten too excited about the new. Whether its employees or customers. We’re an acquisition economy and a disposable society. Those are terrible practices. For me, there’s value in loyalty. Talk to your longest standing employees. Value your longest standing customers. Focus on what you have and meet their needs. It will take you to amazing places.

There are so many more values. There are so many more things to cover. But the above four bullets encapsulate so much of my decision. Except one.

I was introduced to Help Scout through people who knew me very well. What I value. How I work. How I treat people. And they insisted that I take the conversation with Nick and Help Scout. I was sold immediately.

Nick was focused on the customer first. Help Scout has gotten this far by focusing on being humble and being helpful. I couldn’t think of two greater values to build a brand around. And when push comes to shove, I love that I will be able to make decisions based on whether or not what we’re about to do will be helpful for the customer, and done with humility. Those are aspirational values for me. I love that I’ll get practice at them professionally, every single day I go to work.

Legos. A perfect set of legos.

Tomorrow is July 1st. I couldn’t be more excited to join this new team. I feel like a high school line worker at Taco Bell joining Top Chef (I can say that because I was actually a high school line worker at Taco Bell.) All Stars all around me. As a result, I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunities in front of us. And, perhaps most of all, I couldn’t be more excited to be myself and be confident in my ability to help all the amazing people who have brought Help Scout to this point, take it even farther.

Thank you, LiveIntent. For everything. Hello, Help Scout. Let’s do this.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under My $.02, Timeless Lessons, Uncategorized