- Joshua M Brown
- February 24th, 2012
"Hey TJ, what's wrong?"
"I don't know, I'm just sad Daddy."
"Why are you sad?"
"I'm just worried that I'm gonna grow up and have to move away from you and Mommy because I won't be your baby anymore."
"Okay, come here. First, no matter how grown up you get, you'll always be our baby girl. Second, you don't ever have to move away, if you want you can stay with Mommy and Daddy and Nugget forever. I promise."
Tomorrow I turn 35 years old. I don't know how that happened. If I close my eyes, I can see the green soccer fields I ran up and down as a kid, the beaches of Spring Breaks past from my college years, my first New York City apartment. Is it healthy or pathetic that I still see myself as the same kid I was 5, 10, 20 years ago?
I've never been happier in my entire life but I've also never been so uncertain. The stakes feel magnified now like never before. And am I doing this right? Any of this?
Am I a good father? I can now pinpoint exactly which positive traits and which bad habits I got from each of my parents. What the hell am I passing on to these kids? I was way under-qualified for this Daddy stuff in the beginning, still a kid myself (see exhibit A below) - have I gotten better at it?
Am I a good husband? On the weekends I let her get out and do errands and go the gym and stuff - but Monday through Friday I'm pretty useless. Some days I leave the house before anyone gets up and come home after they're all sleeping. Weeks like this when both babies are off from school she looks exhausted. This is the deal we made five years ago - I go out and work as hard as I can and she takes care of the household and the kids. Is she still cool with that deal?
Am I a good financial advisor? Am I aware of everything I need to be aware of? Are we positioned right for what's happening today and what could happen tomorrow? Are we giving everyone the best chance at success to hit their goals? What if we miss something big or get something very wrong? What if what we do ceases to be effective down the road, how will we adapt? Am I expected to be right about everything? Can't be the case, people must understand that all the data and research and prudence in the world won't result in flawlessness, right? Will the long-run outcome buy me the understanding I need to be wrong from time to time in the short-run? Fortunately for my clients I don't bill them hourly - because I am thinking about this stuff around the clock.
Am I taking care of myself? Not really. I exercise now but not often enough. And I say yes to way too much, as usual. Sometimes I'll be at an event and look around and ask myself "What the fuck am I doing here?" Maybe this is the year I'll learn that I don't have to be everywhere and do everything. But I have the book to promote, so maybe that's next year.
Speaking of the book, is anyone going to buy it? I've never worked harder on anything in my life. I dug deep for this thing and put everything I had into it. The researching, the writing, the editing, the re-editing and re-re-editing, the fighting for the stuff I wanted in, the second-guessing of my own ability to pull it off. So much work, so little certainty of it paying off. And I haven't even begun the promotion effort, my god. I have no strategy; I'm not trying to hit any kind of bestseller list or get any particular critic to bless it. I guess I'm just going to do my best so that people know about it. I'm really excited and really scared all at once. I have no way of knowing if this thing will be a hit - but I do know that it's going to rock anyone who reads it.
Am I still an important blogger? Am I still getting the most crucial and interesting stuff up here? Am I still hungry enough to do this seven days a week, morning, noon and night? Do I still want what I thought I wanted last year or the year before? Am I spreading myself too thin, saying too much in too many places? Am I becoming at all like those full-of-shit guys from Wall Street 1.0 that I am meant to destroy and dislodge? Would the year-one TRB laugh at the year-four TRB? Have I let the bastards co-opt me? Am I slipping?
I don't think so. I think I'm still what I set out to be. Take a look at this magazine cover story on me that just came out this morning - I'm keeping it real to a fault here, taking zero prisoners:
Am I a good friend? My closest friends are coming out for dinner tonight in NYC to help me celebrate. There are some new faces there and some of the old faces - people I thought I'd be friends with forever - weren't even invited. I still love them all but what are we even going to talk about anymore? I'm too busy to invent activities to do with people I no longer have much in common with just "for old time's sake." It's sad and it sneaks up on you. Is it my fault we lost touch? Am I so caught up in my own bullshit that I can't even pick up the phone to ask after other people once in awhile? Will the people at the table tonight also be at my 40th birthday or will I screw up these friendships too?
Something is telling me that this is going to be the biggest, most momentous year of my life. I don't know why I have that feeling but I can't escape it. I'm trembling with excitement and nervous as hell all at once. So many things have to go right and there is so much work required of me to make that happen.
I hope I'm up to it and I don't let these questions I'm asking consume me in the process. I hope I can keep it all together to see this through.
"So you're saying that we can always be together and I never have to move away?"
"I promise, sweetheart. We can be together forever."
"Okay, so I guess you can let go of me now Daddy."
"No. No I really can't."
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The Reformed Broker is a blog about financial markets and the economy. Joshua Brown is a New York City-based investment advisor for high net worth individuals, charitable foundations, retirement plans and corporations... More.