one of the things i like to do (when i get some free time), is spend time with very successful people (when they also get the free time).
i always ask for their story.
and i love to hear their story.
i spent part of my evening with a former ceo of a company, who is now in a presidential role of a new company.
born and raised on a small farm in nowhere, ohio. parents got divorced. decided to live with mom on food stamps and subsidized housing. during this time of watching mom struggle, decided they would never depend on anybody for their well-being. found a way to pay for college since dad refused. graduated and found a random job that wasn’t really a part of the plan. company went bankrupt. utter chaos and feeling of being lost. found love, got married. moved to houston. found a job. worked up the ladder. had children. got a dog. lost love, got divorced after 25 years of marriage. stepped away from ceo duties to refocus. accepted presidential role at bigger company. hasn’t felt this happy in a while.
i listen intently to what they tell me, but i also pay acute attention to how they tell their story. this is the most important part to me. this is where the lessons redeem their value. do they get nostalgic as they speak? do they pause in thought between sentences? i hear the way they laugh when they remember the struggle. i see the way they smile or light up when talking about past relationships. i count the extra blinks they do to keep the tears in place when they remember something so vividly. i want to feel what they felt. i want to somehow relate it to what i’m experiencing. i want to empathize with a multi-millionaire.
after finishing a $100 bottle of wine, a dinner that i know was well over $200, and briefly begging them to “let me pay for something” (they rolled their eyes), we both walked out to the valet area.
“you’re fearless, i can just feel it.”
not knowing exactly how to respond i said, “i try to be.”
“you don’t even have to try. it’s who you are. it’s your superpower.”
the valet boys bring around two cars; a maserati and a beetle.
as i watched this person step into their silver chariot, i quickly asked, “what do you wish you knew at age 24?”
to which they replied with a sigh and a small smirk,
“how to be fearless.”
off topic, but a quick shoutout to my mother; somebody else who’s fearless.