Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Big Dogs

I'll get to how my training is going in a later entry but will note that I sure get tired FAST these days and have forgotten how tired simply being sore all the time can make the mind.

Over the last twelve months, Monica has trained a lot with a good buddy of mine, Spencer. They are well suited to each other because Spencer likes riding at M's speed. I also think that they had a bit of a weird contest going with who could eat _less_ on a long ride or key workout. They had more excuses for not eating during training than a ten year old boy has for losing his homework.

Spencer comes from a track background and his best junior 1500 time is comfortably faster that what I'd run a K at when I was that age. Like most speedy athletes he seems to prefer to train on two things... water and pain.

So M and I were out riding in the French countryside a few days ago and I was tearing into my second bar after a few plates of breakfast. I asked if M had eaten anything. It went like this...

G -- Have you had anything this ride?
M -- I had a bar at the start.
G -- That was your breakfast!

G -- You know training in GordoWorld is different than MonsyLand.
G -- It ain't SpencerVille either!

M -- What do you mean?
G -- Look, Epic is coming up and you want to train with the Big Dogs
G -- If you want to train with the Big Dogs you gotta eat

M -- I eat
G -- I ain't talking about a hundred calories an hour
G -- Look you wait, KP will be there. That guy can eat.

G -- Big dogs, baby. Big dogs.
G -- You gotta eat.

Discount Rates

So are you saying to look at our new P3 Carbon and current account balance and say that "I have $10,000 invested/saved, this P3C is $4000, so that's 40% of NAV" and ask ourselves if it's really worth 40% of NAV to get that bike.

I've been in the habit of viewing things in terms of opportunity cost - ie given my expected return, spending $4,000 a P3C costs ~$100,000 (in 2005 dollars) at the age my parents are now...

I prefer to look at what things cost today, right now. Looking too far into the future can be a bit of a trap.

Let’s say you are earning $60,000 per annum, taking home about $3,350 per month after taxes. I pulled those figures out of the air but let’s assume. If you can save $600 per month then that implies monthly expenses of $2,750.

$10,000 in the bank is about 3.5 months of expenses and 17 mths worth of savings. $4,000 on a bike represents – 1.5 months of expenses and a half year worth of savings.

Now you’d need to consider it for yourself but in terms of return on investment in triathlon, you’d likely get a lot more performance from spending that money on six weeks of full-time training than a bike.

However, the bigger picture is that (based on my assumptions) you’re considering sinking six months work into a depreciating asset. Six months work is a heck of a lot of effort, now the bike will give you pleasure but is it really that much more pleasure than what you are riding right now?

When I was in my 20s my big goal was to get myself to the point where I could take an entire year off from work. I had various plans on where I’d spend that year (drinking in Greece; sailing the world; climbing the seven summits). The plans changed and developed as I did.

A few years back, I read that Bill Gates liked to hold one year’s expenses in cash on his company’s balance sheet. That really appealed to me because it was similar to the goal that I’d set myself.

These goals can be a trap in themselves because do we mean one year’s expenses…
…covered in capital
…covered in unearned income
…indexed, covered in unearned income
…indexed, adjusted for future dependents, covered in unearned income
…indexed, adjusted for future dependents, covered in unearned income, assuming market crash
…just like fitness, there is always more

I probably think way too much about this stuff but that’s the way I have always been about most things that can have a direct impact on my life.

We each need to decide for ourselves. Generally, most folks don’t get past that first line so it is an academic discussion. I joked with a buddy recently that the only people that truly understand discussions on sports psychology are the folks that don’t need it. Same with most fields – nutrition, personal finance…

Another trap is to build liabilities in line with assets – leverage is useful and having the skills to assemble/package assets is deemed valuable these days, because it enables folks to make money from packaging financial products around those assets. It is amazing, the premiums paid to folks in the financial services industry.

There is value from simply having control of a stack of assets – even if you are leveraged to the hilt. In certain market conditions, a company (or guarantor) is far safer being technically insolvent than having a lot of security cover. By having nothing, you’ve got nothing to lose – if you can live with that then there can be freedom there – quite a few elite athletes live that way for a few years. That life doesn’t work for me though because I value security and personal freedom very highly.

Thinking about it. There’s an element of being able to say “no”; or perhaps “not yet” in savings. Delayed gratification, or gratification from delay. Saving, eating right, going to bed early, under scheduling our lives – the pay off can appear to be later but, for me, is simply a more relaxed “right now”.

Anyhow, I got a bit sidetracked from the point.

Discount rates – in my life no purchase really mattered that much to me until I had one year’s cash flow saved in the bank. Once I had built the discipline to get myself to that point (in my mid-20s), I had the skills to manage my savings/expenditure so that I was always covered as I chose to increase (or decrease) my personal burn rate. Being a good administrator would be similar.

Now being a good entrepreneur is often completely different. However, entrepreneurs value the ability to work/create more than personal security. They are “winning” every day they are at the office. There is nothing that they’d rather be doing than working (only met a few guys in this league).

Motivation is something that I think about quite a bit because I always assume that other's motivation is similar to mine. That the world is seen through my eyes by others and that is mostly incorrect. Most folks see things totally differently. In fact, many (most) having too much going on in our heads to see much of anything outside ourselves.

Sixty Zeroes

So Ced told me to keep parking illegally -- bet me that I'd save money over the month. I decided to skip that and smiled as I saw the ticket man (and a line of twelve cars with tickets on the way to the pool). Must be the season for giving in France.

Monsy seems to be confusing the local workmen. They keep walking in on her when she's changing. I told her it's standard operating procedure for the lads in the South of France. Still, she's not used to having to lock herself down in a cubicle to get ready to swim or hit the gym. Apparently a couple of guys "when to jail for that" in Boulder -- we're a world away from Colorado!

This week marked the start of my five week campaign to get myself in some sort of reasonable shape for Epic Camp. Trying to make it out the door on a daily basis and not fall behind in my work. Starting back from ground zero while managing my inbox is a good reminder from my earlier days as a working athlete.

How did I go? Well, I enjoyed myself by was amazed at how weak I am and how tired a little training makes me. As for the specifics, they are going to remain confidential as I don't want to place any undue pressure on myself. Suffice to say that you wouldn't be awed by my current performance. My goal for the end of December is being able to complete my swim/bike/run goals from my Four Pillars article.

About the title... what's a zero? A zero is when you don't do any training for a day. I'm not sure exactly how many zeroes that I pulled down so far in 2005 because I stopped my training log in March or April. However, I do know that it's a lot more than sixty. I took a zero today to end my first training week.

So where does the sixty come from? Friday night I was lying in bed mulling things over. I've been having quite a tough time turning my brain "off" these days. I wake up and it just starts rolling... or I lie in bed and it keeps rolling... the fatigue that I get from training is so pleasurable precisely because I clears my head of all those thoughts. I can remember when I started training in Hong Kong the feeling of pleasure from a mind full of nothing at the end of a day of trail walking. Exercise addition being one of the more socially acceptable sleep aids I've used over the years.

What do you think of when you are training? For me, when it is going well, I am thinking of absolutely nothing. Pure nothing. Wonderful stuff.

Back to the sixty zeroes -- that is how many my good buddy KP had in the bag from his pre-epic preparations when he arrived in Auckland for Epic North Island a couple of years ago. He got through that camp, survived the desert road, avoided "the tape" and shared more than a few laughs with me and the lads. As Dr. J said last year, "life is good, sure, but these times, these experiences, this is what it's really about". That keeps me smiling as the camp ticks closer with each day. If it's hard, if I suffer, if I get crushed, blown out the back, whatever... well that really is the point. So the 'worst' it goes, the more hilarious the experience. Plus, Molina tends to lay off a bit when I am getting beat on. I'm looking for a bright side a bit with my training these days -- I could be the first epic participate kicking off with triple figure zeroes for the training year. It is a concern.

We are a bit isolated here in France. I still have my internet connection and my email -- thank god for wireless global roaming or I'd be hooped. In reality all we have is each other and that's a nice opportunity for us, espcially after a summer where I spent five out of the first seven weeks of my marriage on the road.

There's quite a bit that KP and the boys would appreciate about France. #1 is the real deal coffee that they are serving up all around the place. Espresso is what they call coffee. Hard core coffee you feel. Coffee that is so strong, I am a little nervous going for a second round. The French are great with their coffee -- they go for the single shot versions and alternate with cigarettes. I imagine that one could get pretty charged up with that. Being used to Starbucks, I have to slow myself down from slamming a double shot in two swigs.

How do you feel when people who don't know you write nice things about you? I feel quite nervous. I think that it's a mistake to place our faith in anything other than our own itegrity. I know me and I am pretty normal from the inside looking out. Perhaps the nervousness comes from a sense that whether we are positive (or negative) it's the same trap to seek satisfaction/inspiration/motivation from sources outside of our own actions.

Not much of a point to this one. Just had to clear my head.

Make vs Spend

Sorry, just want to make sure I understand - you are saying to evaluate the financial opportunity cost in terms of (a) percentage of your personal Net Asset Value - ie. the impact that this decision is likely to have on one's long-term wealth, both in terms of capital draw-down and lost income to invest and (B) in terms of the ability to maintain one's standard of living (or at least a reasonable one).

When I left Hong Kong I knew that my income was going to fall _a lot_. However, my expenses were going to fall as well. What I didn’t realise was the magnitude of the change.

What happened was that I was spending less than 10% of my Hong Kong rate even while traveling in Australia/New Zealand. I was also able to buy a house in Christchurch for about one-year-HK-rental equivalent (early 2000, a nice time to buy property just about anywhere). Now not every VC is willing to live on couches and with the parents of adult friends while he figures out what he is going to do. Still, it worked for me.

On the income side, I took advantage of some coaching opportunities. They didn’t bring in a lot of cash but… they brought in a lot of cash relative to my triathlon cost of living. So while they wouldn’t make a good use of my time when I was in Hong Kong, they made a lot of sense when I was on the road.

The result was that once I subtracted my tri-life expenses from my tri/coaching/unearned income, I realised that I had a much larger multiple of capital available to finance myself. I’d based my initial estimate on Hong Kong expenditure but I discovered that by leaving Hong Kong I was able to eliminate nearly all my overheads.

Most people have no idea where they are really spending their money. They simply spend until they run out each month.

Also, beware of the trap of mistaking “standard of living” for “quality of life”. Most folks ratchet up their standard living (expenditure) in line with (or ahead of) their income. As a result, they are never able to accumulate any capital and are held captive to their perceived income requirements.

When you start to evaluate expenditure relative to NAV, rather than income – it can change your view on whether things are “worth it”. Folks that aren’t good at saving don’t really like to face this method of personal accountability. I know some folks that spend a multiple of their NAV on traveling to races (or clothes, or vacations, or whatever) each year.

Scott once told me that it’s not what you make, it’s what you spend. As with many things he told me, good advice.

What’s The Worst That Can Happen?

I’ve been enjoying writing again. Whenever I get busy or particularly tired, writing seems to go by the way-side.

Had someone ask me for the key things that I learned about writing from the Going Long process. Here’s what I wrote:

Probably the two most important things that helped me..

1 -- making a detailed outline of the entire book -- chapter by chapter and section by section. Very helpful.

2 -- clearing the decks -- setting my schedule up so that I had two full weeks to focus exclusively on the book. I wrote six days per week and had to finish the rough draft of the goal chapter before I was allowed to leave my office (which was a Starbucks).

I also hired Wy to collate my existing writings into the pre-draft of each chapter. That gave me ideas and text to get the ball rolling. There were extensive rewrites from the early drafts but once you have the entire book down -- totally rough -- it is FAR easier to create a solid product that reads well. Once we had the final drafts, Joe's cold review of the finished product -- start to finish was very, very valuable. So a project partner that understands your subject matter is valuable. Having a guy like Joe involved really helped me as I am weak in many of the areas where he is strong.

Overall, I was surprised at just how tough it is to write a book. My 2005 project was my 2nd book but I haven’t really got stuck into that project. While I have a lot of bits and pieces, I don’t have the chapter structure. Perhaps my super-long-haul flights in early 2006 will get me rolling on that. No rush there as I keep learning each year.

I received the following in my mailbag. I spent most my 20s feeling this way about one thing or another (sailing, athletics, travel…).

I've seen a few off-handed comments about how you semi-retired from the world of VC when you were about 30. I guess you always knew you would reenter the working world but you had some tri-business to take care of... is that a fair assessment?

I was 32 when I handed back my partnership – I’d been with the firm for ten years. At the time, I didn’t have any strong goals in terms of triathlon achievement. I figured that I’d be able to get into the low-9s in terms of IM performance but that wasn’t the driver for me at all. The main driver was that I’d become a bit bored with my working life and the pollution in Hong Kong was really getting me down. As well, I think that I was a bit worn out from ten years in London/Hong Kong – however – I didn’t feel that way at the time.

I've thought about taking time, maybe 6-9 months or maybe several years when I turn 30. This happens in about 2 years. I'm wondering if you could share some insight into how you decided it was time for you. I know it's a rather personal thing which wouldn't necessarily apply to me, but I'm interested in your thoughts anyway.

You are right that we each have to find our own way, our own experience. I’ve seen others try to follow the path of a friend that appears happy/content to find neither. Perhaps, that’s because a feeling of satisfaction arises from the way we think on the inside rather than how we are acting on the outside.

I didn’t have any real plan or strategy – I simply had a very clear feeling that I had to leave. Before I left the firm, I took a two month leave-of-absence. I spent most of that in Boulder and truly loved the freedom of being able to train (helped to grab a Kona slot in the first week of my break). Back then, I wasn’t constantly on-line and had much less going on. So I had 7-9 weeks that were almost completely my own. I’d wake each morning (staying in the mountains above Boulder) and write for 20-40 minutes. The process of morning writing, training and spending time alone – that helped me realise what I wanted to do and deprogram from Hong Kong.

If you are wondering what’s really possible with athletics then an experienced guy like yourself really needs to allow five years and attack it with a true passion/joy. With a period as short as 6/9 months, you’ll get into great shape but you won’t be able to make the physiological changes required to see what’s possible. You need a few years simply to prepare/build yourself so that you can do the training required to see what might be possible.

I feel like there's a lot more I want to do in my professional career, but I also realize that this might be a good time in my life to pursue athletics in a more focused manner.

You’ve likely got 50 years left to pursue both your working and athletic lives. That’s worth remembering – in a lot of different ways.

If you are just about to get yourself in a position to make a stack of cash in your career (Monsy calls that making “bank” – I always smile at that expression) – then… think it through before you hand that back to ride your bike. What I always do/did was review what I was forsaking financially against two criteria: (a) percentage of current NAV; (b) percentage of annual cost of living. Not a bad way to review most financial decisions because it focused on current capital as well as current burn rate. Probably the VC guy in me.

Thinking about that – I do the same evaluation in terms of my training – I look at average weekly volume in each sport compared to race distance. Learned that from Mister A – the big guy taught me a few things.

However, I have to admit that it is a HUGE trip to be right up at the sharp end (of any race) and there is a sell-by date on that (but Joe B is still winning them). However, if we are talking about being world class then you can do that in your 40s, 50s, 60s… and it is plenty competitive. I coach a guy in his late 60s and it’s been WAR between him and his pals for years. A good natured kind of war, though.

One of the things, for me, is that I haven’t been very good at kicking back and waiting it out. When I have been most happy is when I’ve thought something up and gone for it.

The thing that swung it for me was that I realised that my worst case scenario was that I’d get my old job back – perhaps at a bit less money but I was earning more than I needed. I was also earning far more than I needed to do the things that I loved. Reviewing where I was spending my time and money in 1998 and in 1999 was an eye opener for me.

So… I was fortunate to get myself into a position in my early 30s where I could support myself for a year of training. I also surfaced various part-time “jobs” that were able to contribute towards covering my overheads. So I managed to hold my personal NAV steady while doing what I loved. For me, that seemed like a great deal. I also had a multiple of my annual burn rate socked away so that gave material comfort.

Les Impressions

We’ve been in France for nearly a week and I love the place. There are a lot of unique idiosyncrasies about the place that remind me of my time in Montreal.

Le Driving – the French can smell fear, I swear it. The slightest vehicular-hesitation and we lose our spot. I’ve got a massive Renault Transit van – great vehicle and it increases our street creed. I love their use of yield signs – minimal use of traffic lights and lots of action.

Le French – the locals take a lot of pity on my French. So far the best situation was when I was struggling to sign up for the gym. Eventually, a guy came by and said (in French) to the receptionist that she’d better speak English to me or we were going to be there all afternoon!

Les doggies – the French love their dogs. I wonder what the per capita ratio-de-chiens would be. They are well fed and well loved so they don’t hassle cyclists or runners (so far). Le poop is a bit of an issue but it’s their country.

Le maison du pain – we are staying at friends of Monica’s. It’s a great place and they are very kind. However, there is a large basket with 4-6 types of bread placed on the table at every meal – quite challenging for a starch addicted person such as myself. I really do like their way of eating. We all sit down properly for lunch and dinner. Ced talked about when he lived with an Aussie guy – “he ate everything between two pieces of bread”. He also said that after a few weeks, the Aussie guy asked him why he was always laying out a plate for him. I guess bread was just fine…

I’ve been spending 8-12 euro per day on parking meters. Ced recommended that we simply buy a 1 euro ticket and leave the car for the day. He said that they don’t write tickets for anyone. We laughed at the French solution – you “kind of” follow the law. Anyhow, I bought my one euro ticket and came back a few hours later.

Found an 11 euro ticket on my windscreen.

Guess they knew I was Canadian.

Back Yourself

The guys that I used to work with in London recently launched a five billion euro investment fund. That struck me as a heck of a lot of cash. It also made me smile. Generally, terms in the venture capital industry are “2 & 20” – an annual fee of 2% of the fund and 20% of the capital gains returned to investors. Let’s say you double the investors’ capital, then you are talking about a profit share of one billion euro as well as a hundred million euro per annum of management fees. Inspirational stuff when you consider that their first fund (before most of the current team joined that business) was less than 100 million euro equivalent 25+ years ago, the annual management fees of the business could be close to double that today. Shows what a group of smart, motivated people can achieve with sustained long term focus.

Why is that relevant? It’s relevant because how often do we hold back because we aren’t sure if we are worthy of success? I can assure you that the folks in that business are regular folks (as “normal” as any of us, at least). They work hard and take advantage of their opportunities as best they can. For the senior folks, I imagine that it’s long ago ceased being about the money. They were always a pretty humble bunch in terms of how they lived.

Another neat stat is that my first boss’ current business went through a benchmark this year where they returned their first billion pounds to their investors. Raising a billion is pretty impressive – actually returning it (successfully) is even more impressive.

Stuff like that makes you think as I am not far off my first boss’s age when he hired me. Of course, simply doing things because one “can” is also a bit dangerous if our ethical compass gets out of whack, or if we fail to consider the best use of our intent.

Somebody asked me about recruiting the other day – I didn’t really answer them all that clearly at the time. I’ve been thinking about it. Having had a couple of weeks to consider, I think that I’d recommend a recruiting trip to Harvard Business School and focus on the Baker Scholars. I’ve come across six of them in my working career, all successful folks and good people to have backed. Been trying to figure out how I can tap that knowledge. Perhaps just file it for the future.

Thinking to triathlon and a couple of my training buddies. Folks generally fall into two camps, improving athletes and lifestyle athletes. The lifestyle crew often seem to be on a triathlon vacation. The improvers are enjoying themselves too, but have a certain fanaticism in their approach. When lifestylers talk about their races, they tell you what went wrong. I rarely hear about that from the folks that improve.

Perhaps, it is that people that move ahead focus on what can be done in the present, rather than what’s gone wrong in the past.

So many similarities between athletics and business. That is certainly the benefit of moving between worlds, countries, interests… we are able to gain perspective. Oh yeah, it you happen to be long on Dubai real estate? I’d be a little careful – I’ve only seen a few places that remind me of how Dubai looks right now – Bangkok, Shanghai and Jakarta. Shanghai was driven by global and domestic demand combined with the world class work ethic of the Chinese. Bangkok and Jarkarta ended in tears for a lot of people. Anyhow, the tourism infrastructure won’t be wasted but I certainly have my doubts on what level of real economy will be created there given the nature of the geographic neighbours. It will be a fun place to watch develop over the next few years. They are building a city-state from the ground up. Pretty impressive regardless of the return on equity for FDI.

This weekend is Ironman Australia, for an athletic example of what sustained backing yourself can do then do a google search of the 2001-2005 results for a guy called Chris McDonald. I bet he’s done 5,000 aerobic hours over the last five years. Not many folks give themselves the opportunity to see what’s possible. Chris certainly has.

Dark Power
My buddy Clas has been clearing bush in the forests of Sweden. He’s a “glass half full” sort of guy. If you are a triathlete dealing with near total darkness, cold and snow… well you might as well enjoy it. I used to think that the Vikings must have loved getting away from the cold for their trips kicking butt around Europe. However, in getting to know the doodes, I sense that getting away to a warm climate is fun but… there is an element of recharging that they receive from the cold and dark. That and the winter seems to be a good time to do “man stuff”.

Hangin’ in Paris
Monsy and I were walking across Pont Alexandre III a few days ago. Heck of a nice ‘pont’, I recommend it if you happen to be in Paris. So one Italian guy kisses his girlfriend and triggers a make-out break amongst just about every couple on the bridge. Gotta love Paris.

Monsy and I later decided that the entire country must smoke. Perhaps we’ve been spoiled from the smoking bans that have been implemented throughout most of the countries where we spend our time.

If you do get to Paris then I recommend the Musee d’Orsay. Pretty cool – walk up to the top and look across Paris through the clock that faces the river. Also check out the polar bear sculpture on the second floor. Being Canadian, I suppose that I am partial to a good polar bear sculpture.

The Café Marillon also has a great selection of West Coast rap. Team Mongo were grooving along with TuPac while hiding out from the sleet yesterday. Some kid sitting beside Monsy apologised to the waiter that he didn’t have any cash to buy coffee – but we did note that he had enough smokes to nail four back-to-back in 20 minutes! I sense this could be a recurring theme with our interactions with our euro-conterparts.

Follow Up
A buddy wrote me some interesting thoughts based on the last entry. I thought that I’d share two parts that really appealed to me:

How do you separate "accepting what was your best effort at the time" from what is actually a truthful best effort. It is tempting to let myself off the hook… …Maybe the answer is to judge myself in the present. After all, the present is what we can impact. Positive actions going forward make the past a valuable learning experience.

I think results are like wattage -- they come from effort. For some that effort is fun, for others it is work.

Successful people, that achieve peace, seem to have the ability to draw the line at how good is good enough. Successful people that achieve success, they often fail to achieve peace – that feeling of never measuring up stalking them.

Fun/Satisfaction – for me that comes from being able to move forward – the little steps – so long as I can move forward. It’s when I am not moving forward, that’s when my dissatisfaction climbs. Now, learning to think that I am moving forward when chilling out, recharging, resting – that’s something that I’ve been working on. Read a book called – In Praise of Slow recently. Quite repetitive but it did make me consider where speed might not be the most appropriate method of attack.

At my recent wedding, Chris reminded me (and the entire dinner) about the time that I took over his secretary’s computer because she wasn’t typing the drafting changes fast enough into the deal legals. That was 1993 and I was certainly in a big hurry back then.

That’s all for today. Actually sitting on the tarmac in an Air France airbus right now. Pretty neat use of technology. I now have global internet roaming to go with my snazzy new machine.

Why Wait

I was out running last night running through the streets of Edinburgh. While running around physically, I was running through my head mentally, taking inventory of the year. It’s been a pretty big year for me. Actually, it wasn’t night, it was the middle of the afternoon but after a week in Asia, the return to Scotland had my head a little confused in daylight terms.

I’ve no idea how often I’ll be writing here but various things keep rolling through my head and it helps to clear them out by getting them down.

Why Wait – that’s short for “why wait to be great”. You can apply it to a wide range of things. Such as:

There’s always a good reason to party
There’s always a good reason not to train
There’s always a good reason to put myself last
I’ll stretch later
I’ll start tomorrow

That’s a conversation that I hear all the time.

Anyhow that wasn’t the main thought that was running through my head. I’ve been reading the internet as usual and the conversations are starting to fade in their appeal to me. I normally don’t mind the repetition but for some reason it was wearing me out. I probably need a vacation… or to simply train a little bit more… or to get back into my routine – I’ve been on the road for weeks and there is only so much fine dining one fellow can handle.

I read so much about folks focusing on what doesn’t matter and I wonder if they are killing time so they don’t have to take action on what does matter.

Actually, I don’t wonder. I know. At least I know for me.

So back to my run. My reflections – it always seems easy for me to achieve. For years, I couldn’t figure out why I was able to move ahead so quickly. Actually, those thoughts didn’t really start until I moved into athletics and shot ahead so much faster than I ever thought possible. When I was in finance, it’s a lot more up and down, the progress isn’t really as clear because each deal is pretty similar, the growth appears in terms of deal complexity, deal size and overall portfolio size. Also, in finance, much (all?) of the growth appears outside of ourselves. The closest things to marks is salary – suppose that’s why we can get trapped into seeing ourselves in our paychecks.

1990 – first class honours econ/finance, university scholar
1993 – youngest partner in my firm
1998 – climbed Denali, my first true expedition
1999 – first IM, little over 11 hours
2000 – left venture capital after ten years, moved to New Zealand to focus on elite athletics
2002 – spent summer in Edinburgh helping start a property investment business, won Ultraman
2003 – first sub-9 IM
2004 – rode across America, first sub-8:30 IM
2005 – pretty solid year:

March – Had a decent result at IMNZ but found a lack of satisfaction in the overall experience because everyone (other than the guy that I wanted to race) beat themselves. Have to say “chapeau” to Cam Brown. Ended the month by getting engaged.

April – Took on an assignment to re-domicile a fund management business. Decided to sell my house in New Zealand and wind-up my Kiwi Consulting business.

May – Started the month with a road trip to find a suitable jurisdiction for the fund management business. My vote was Cayman – everyone else preferred Bermuda. Decided that they were probably right, incorporated a new company in Bermuda and got the wheels rolling to move the business. While in the UK, realised that there was an opportunity to launch a new company, spent two weeks creating a business plan and info memo for the new company.

July – Got married.

August – Managed a couple of 100K run weeks. Saw the results for Ironman Canada and saw no reason to give up on my dream.

October – Decided that Hawaii is a lousy location from which to conduct business with the UK.

November – Closed the first round of funding for a new company focused on Scottish residential property investment. Six months from conception to legal completion. Joined the board of the new business.

Monica pointed out that we have, we will, spent/spend Saturdays…

In Kona
In Boulder
In Saint Paul
In Edinburgh
In Dubai
In Glasgow/Edinburgh
In Paris
In Montpellier

That seems like an awful lot of travel. One of the things that I do well is being adaptable to a wide range of people and situations. We’ll see how adaptable because I am going to be commuting between hemispheres in early 2006.

“I believe that, generally, people that are good at something are good at everything.” – that’s a quote from my business partner and his key hiring criteria.

My first boss used to hire associates and junior executives based on two criteria – school results and value for money (lucky for me I did well and was extremely cheap).

So why all the outlining? It is a preamble to some things that I’ve observed. Looking back over the last twenty years, I’ve managed to do reasonably well at some very diverse fields: academics, financial analysis, international finance, elite athletics and fund management.

What is the key component that I’ve observed in myself and others around me?

To succeed relative to others: a willingness to consistently out-work the competition for as long as it takes.

To succeed relative to self: a deep satisfaction from taking the actions required to work towards challenging goals.

Intent – if you want to learn about a person’s true intent then look to where they spend their time. What do they really do? Not what they say. True intent is seen through actions. That’s why when our actions aren’t true to ourselves, we slowly crush our spirits. More on that perhaps some other time.

Mile Twenty
Patrick wrote on my board… “…most of us have "accepted" that the wall will come and we can't do anything about it so might was well push it until it hits us and then we can create our own laundry list of excuses (nutrition/wind/temp/etc). this fear is hard for me to grasp on an intellectual level (not athletic, b/c I have been there myself)...why fear the possibility of underperforming by going easy on the bike when you know that this bike effort is undoubtedly going to force you to under perform once you hit the run…”

Great piece of writing…

The challenge of getting past Mile 20 is present daily. All achievement stems from creating the environment and habits that support getting past lots of little Mile 20s.

Most of us are too deeply programmed into our existing patterns to break out unless we are in a new field. Amateur athletics is so new to most of us, we haven’t had the chance to create self-defeating patterns.

Even with a, relatively, clean slate – we bring our existing patterns along wherever we go. As a result, we see many successful AG athletes with pre-existing success in a range of fields. The field depth isn’t as strong as single sports so new athletes can make a mark quite quickly, say five years of focus.

The illogic of self-sabotage might be driven from an underlying fear. If we do everything right and don’t perform… then we might realize our ultimate fear – that deep down we really do ‘suck’. I’ve met more than a few people that are driven by this contradiction.

OK that’s enough for now.