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Full Disclosure and the 2-3 Zone


Calling a time-out for perspective.


There was a moment -- at some point between walking Truffles and Fudge in the post-Festivus Manhattan chill and early this morning when I was cleaning out Phoebe and Crash's "bathroom" -- when it hit me.

What a long, strange trip it's been.

This summer marked the ten-year anniversary of this writing experiment; a journey facilitated by my doing a favor for my former partner and scribing his column -- for a day, as it was suggested -- while he took a summer vacation. The rest, as they say, is history, and we've transcribed our wild ride in real-time for over a decade while staying true to who we are, what we do, and how we do it.

It hasn't been all cream puffs and powdered sugar. While we operate "sans acrimony" in these parts -- straight in the face of the shifting social mood -- certain stretches have felt particularly trying. I was thinking about that last night while I watched my Orange dismember Michigan State and realized I failed to give ye faithful a forward mention of the game.

Old school Minyans know I bleed Orange and it's uncommon for me to miss an uncontested lay-up like that; so lemme rebound, as I do. I've written "Full Disclosure" four times: In January 2005 (after a spiritual awakening), March 2009 (when tragic news rocked the 'Ville), October 2009 (as the insider trading probe emerged), and again in March 2010 (as I reflected on fallen friends and lost opportunities).

I read those columns as I prepped this prose, which wasn't supposed to be about "keeping it real." I was gonna riff on the ramifications for interest rates when the Build America Bond bid is gone (most pros will already be out, leaving John Q to again lick his wounds) or the stealth rise in interest rates (has it begun?) or the information deflation or other nuts and guts financial stuff most folks tune in to read. Hey, we'll do that too (we're doing it now on the Buzz) but that's not where I'm going here.

Something pulled me in this direction. Maybe it's a nod to how tough it is out there -- I read a litany of powerful emails each and every day -- or perhaps I'm channeling personal experience. The last three months have been busy, even by my standards. Between Festivus (thanks Jill!), putting the final touches on my book (thanks Pearson (PSO)), a multitude of Minyan matters from business development to strategic partnerships to trading and writing, and my (first) cohabitation with a great gal and two kids, two pups, and two cats (with a baby on the way), that's a lot in a three month stretch no matter how you slice it.

This isn't about me, however. The direction of this column is the current state of us -- not just as Minyans, but as human beings.

The last ten years have been a surreal dream and I understand how lucky I am to do what I love with people I respect while serving the greater good. Yet, it's still laborious and extremely frustrating at times, particularly when you hold yourself to a particular standard and cross paths with folks who don't share the same ethos. "You've got to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince," my mom used to tell me, and I suppose the same can be said for life and business.

So what's my point? Catharsis, for one. Writing serves to synthesize my thoughts, but it's more than that -- it's an effort at encouragement. A growing chorus of the population seems to have thrown their hands up, cowering in the shadow of the enormity of our current economic enigma. I can't blame them, I suppose; I've been in the belly of the beast for twenty years -- having spent more than half of that span illuminating the financial process -- and it's daunting at times, even for me.

I'm not gonna get all "Mamby Pamby" on you -- we're here to work and there's work to do -- but as we edge into the holiday stretch, I'll simply ask you to focus on what you've got rather than what you want.

I've learned this lesson repeatedly -- to look up and out, not down and back -- and I can't tell you how immensely valuable it's been. Energy translates; it's not enough to just think something, you've gotta feel it and once you do, it'll make our journey more than bearable. Dare I say, it will be enjoyable.

Yes, we're in a brand new world, at the crossroads of Cumulative Imbalances Boulevard and Government Intervention Avenue, but it is what it is and we'll play our hand to the best of our ability. As I've gotta get back to work, I'll tie this up with a few simple, but oft-forgotten reminders.

  • Act in a manner that allows you to look yourself in the eyes when you brush your teeth each day.

  • Have empathy, not acrimony; people are scared and in some cases, weak.

  • Do Something Joel -- a random act of kindness. You'll be surprised at how many people emulate your gesture.

  • Remember that the greatest opportunities are born from the most profound obstacles.

  • Think positive. At the end of this journey, we'll arrive at a destination that is the sum total of our thoughts, feelings, and choices.

  • Learn, watch, listen... and smile.

  • Good luck today.


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