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Memoirs of a Minyan: The Phoenix!

By

The purpose of the journey is the journey itself.

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"You don't see it Stan," I said in a hurried voice, pleading with him to see what we saw, "If Walt Disney can take two rodents and create cultural icons, we can take the Wall Street bull and bear and affect positive change through financial understanding!"

Stan sat back in his seat at the far end of the conference room table and chomped on his cigar. "You sure have chutzpah," he said as he weighed our words. "Why don't you circle back when the company is more mature?"

While we didn't "get the order," something shifted within Kevin during that presentation. By the time we got back to New York, we decided to raise money to give Minyanville an honest shot. There was an incredible energy between us but I knew we were racing against the bottom of my bank account.

The final months of 2004 were a furious push to pull together a private placement memorandum. We huddled with lawyers, met with accountants and presented to potential investors. I swallowed the bills and looked through the costs, choosing instead to channel every ounce of effort into fulfilling our mission.

With the holidays bearing down, it was almost time to reset the clocks. Time was running out.

Mexicali Blues

The final push of 2004 took a considerable toll and I operated on adrenalin, tenacity and faith. The excitement of mapping a tangible plan commingled with the fear of an unspoken reality as we hosted our Minyanville holiday party at Rosa Mexicana in New York.

I was in many ways going through the motions of a confident leader. My body was there and my instincts acute, but I was operating on fumes. The work was excessive, even by my standards. My heart hurt, my muscles ached and my head throbbed. I remember splashing water on my face in the bathroom and whispering, "This can't be healthy" before feigning a smile and returning as the host.

I was scheduled to go to a spa near Tucson the morning after our party, as I desperately needed to unplug from the unbearable marathon that was my life. It felt as if I was running from something for so long and at such a furious pace, I didn't know another way to operate.

I still wasn't aware I suffered from depression following the events of Sept. 11, but the signs were clear with the benefit of hindsight. After 14 years of forging a professional identity, my success was no longer measured by conventional metrics. Deep down, the thought of spending a week alone scared the hell out of me.

Traders are conditioned to expect success and loathe losses and that process was ingrained in my psyche when I began Minyanville. I preached the importance of balance and the necessity of perspective, yet my words dripped with hypocrisy. My tank was empty and I knew it.

My grandfather taught me to never run scared, and I repeated that to myself as I nursed a wicked hangover on the way to the airport. My dream had a shot at survival, but the future was anything but certain.

Journeys and Purposes

In my search for success, I ignored that the purpose of the journey is the journey itself. I forgot that by the time you arrive at where think you want to be, the experience will have already ended.

I misplaced the truth that we define our reality more than our reality defines us.

I was trapped by self-imposed expectations and continually reset the bar so it was always out of reach, the fatal flaw of any classic over-achiever. I thought that allowing myself to feel was a weakness if it competed for my attention. I wasn't sure why, but I knew I was vulnerable as I made my way to the desert.

Upon arrival, I immediately participated in activities. The grounds were littered with couples and groups, but I kept to myself and did my own thing. Mountain biking, weight lifting, horseback riding -- I did anything and everything to occupy my mind and delay the inevitable introspection.

From the moment I opened my eyes to my last thought each night, I wrestled with who I was, how I lived and what my purpose was. My mind raced a million miles per minute; by the time I started dissecting one thought, a new one arrived. My head spun for days as they viciously collided and competed for attention.

I paced my room trying to make sense of the emotional crosscurrents before walking to the patio that overlooked the foothills in the far distance.

Without realizing it, I hopped the ledge and began to walk.

Desert Storm

There are instances in each of our lives defined by a moment of clarity and I can count them on one hand.

I remember jogging in the islands after my Morgan Stanley promotion, standing atop a cliff overlooking the clear, blue water. There also was relaxing in Maui the week before Sept. 11, watching the sunset on the horizon and making peace with my father.
No positions in stocks mentioned.

Todd Harrison is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Minyanville. Prior to his current role, Mr. Harrison was President and head trader at a $400 million dollar New York-based hedge fund. Todd welcomes your comments and/or feedback at todd@minyanville.com.

The information on this website solely reflects the analysis of or opinion about the performance of securities and financial markets by the writers whose articles appear on the site. The views expressed by the writers are not necessarily the views of Minyanville Media, Inc. or members of its management. Nothing contained on the website is intended to constitute a recommendation or advice addressed to an individual investor or category of investors to purchase, sell or hold any security, or to take any action with respect to the prospective movement of the securities markets or to solicit the purchase or sale of any security. Any investment decisions must be made by the reader either individually or in consultation with his or her investment professional. Minyanville writers and staff may trade or hold positions in securities that are discussed in articles appearing on the website. Writers of articles are required to disclose whether they have a position in any stock or fund discussed in an article, but are not permitted to disclose the size or direction of the position. Nothing on this website is intended to solicit business of any kind for a writer's business or fund. Minyanville management and staff as well as contributing writers will not respond to emails or other communications requesting investment advice.

Copyright 2011 Minyanville Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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