I know it’s en vogue to call 2020 the “worst year ever,” and to count down the days until it’s over, but we are approaching one of my absolute favorite holidays, Thanksgiving. As a child I couldn’t wait until Thanksgiving because I got to see family members who lived across the country, eat as much stuffing as possible, then lay on a couch and watch the Detroit Lions get beat like they do every year. I know this one will look and feel different but that doesn’t change that fact that it’s an amazing holiday.
I wanted to use this space to say what I’m thankful for in the midst of such a tumultuous period. Instead of the usual stuff like family, friends, and the fermentation of crushed grapes, I want to focus on the little things that so often go overlooked. Things like..
- Walks. I’ve never been one for walking other than, you know, to get places. When the stress of 2020 weighed me down I found that a walk would bring me back to a better state of mind.
- Patience, especially in investing. Patience is hard to come by, and I’m saying that as a parent of teenagers. Without it we are prone to making rash decisions or to sabotage ourselves. My friend Ben Carlson said in his latest blog post "Sitting on your hands and not panicking, even when stocks are down big, remains one of the best investment strategies on the planet." The absolute BEST investing strategy in 2020 was simply patience, I’m grateful for re-learning it.
- Creativity in others. One of the ultimate gifts someone can bestow upon the World is to create art. Whether it’s a painting, or a song, or the written word, art makes our lives deeper and richer. Books can transport us to different Worlds, songs can inspire us, and TV shows like “The Queens Gambit” can lift our spirits in trying times.
- My neighborhood. You know what matters more than the city you live in? The neighborhood you live in. 2020 taught me that it better be good because that tiny piece of land (and the people who live in it) can become your entire World.
- Two ply toilet paper. Because we spent a month using one ply…
- Teammates who can adapt quickly. In one week in March my entire team learned how to operate out of our homes while ramping up our creativity and impact to clients. Work is a joy when your teammates are not only adaptable but remain in good spirits along the way.
- A good webcam and microphone. Guess what, we’re probably not going back to previous levels of business travel. Learning how to communicate with clients, the media, or your teammates via online platforms is now a part of your skillset so make sure you look and sound professional.
- Science. We may have just created the first mRNA vaccine in human history and we did it in under a year. I cannot fathom what that means for future pandemics or for how we approach other diseases like cancer. As Morgan Housel says “We have no idea what happens next”
- New friends. There are people I talk to everyday that I have never met in real life. I talk to them about the market, family, life, and I can’t wait to finally meet them because they helped me get through 2020.
- A market crash. Look, I know this sounds really weird, and living through March of this year was one of the worst moments in my professional life, but I am thankful it happened because it taught me a lot about the market, investors, and how to approach my job. You can’t learn the wisdom of markets without living through moments like March, you can’t really say if you’ll panic with your money until you’ve had your feet held to the fire, and you can’t learn to live with fear until you’ve felt it deep inside your mind.
Bonus: Lingering in small moments: You are trying to balance a career, your family, and all the stress of a modern life, but lingering in small moments was everything this year. Reading to your child, a zoom with Grandma, that first sip of coffee, you know when the small moment is happening because you never want it to end.
I know we are still going through a very difficult moment. There has been a tremendous loss of life, jobs, mental health, and youth, but as we approach the end of this year, and look optimistically to a new one, don’t forget to remember the things you are thankful for and to hold close those who matter the most in your life.