Facts and Feelings


I have a version of this post in my drafts, yesterday’s blog gave me a better example.


If you get my stuff via email then you may have noticed a type-o yesterday. I wrote I hadn’t been away from my house for a week since 2000.

I corrected the error on my site, after repeating it on Twitter.


Here’s the error…

In my head, “a couple years ago” is linked to the year 2000.

I have no idea why this linkage exists but it “feels like the truth”.

My wife has something similar. Often, she feels like she’s just finished high school.

We anchor on the salient, not the truth.


Anyhow, my point isn’t about the fleeting nature of time.

What’s more useful is catching myself when irrational opinions, and clearly false views, feel right.

I marvel at my capacity for self-deception!

It is unlikely I can eliminate my “false feelings” but I can build systems, and habits, so I don’t screw up my life by acting on them.


Write important stuff down is something I’ve been doing since 1990. The value of a “note to file” was drilled into me when I started working in Private Equity.

gMail archive, and searching What’s App, to uncover what was agreed… defuse many situations before they can spiral, and let me see the facts before getting emotionally engaged in arguing about truth.

Better to have my documentation-habit deemed strange than have to deal with unforced errors.


Know your path to ruin => this one is a bit more subtle.

When I’ve made large, unnecessary errors, I have followed a two step path…

  • I am absolutely certain
  • I am fed up and ready to do something extreme about it

Certainty, fed up, drastic measures being required… politicians love to tap into that pattern.

I have learned not to make ANY decisions when I’m feeling certain.

Stop all decisions, chill out and spend time on something else.

If I can’t trust my feelings to get the year right, then I’m really cautious when they’re telling me I should take rapid, drastic action.

Summer Vacation

Heading towards Missouri Mountain

One of the tips I would give my coached athletes:

Have your family come after the event.


I use this advice in different ways.

With young kids, I would train before any family event. I’m a whole lot more tolerant (of anything) after 45-90 minutes of cardio.

Eventually, I decided to train each morning before my kids wake-up.

I set my life up so my family sees the best part of me.


Huron Peak – I seem to smile more with a daypack than 100L of expedition loading

With the kids older, and with varied appetites for adventure, we placed a camping trip before a family vacation.

It was two nights out in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness. This included a monster hiking day, for my son and me.

Tire out the high-maintenance family members then…

…my wife and daughter rolled into town. The following day, we did a moderate hike.

A trip within a trip. Worked well.


Peak Fitness in Buena Vista combines a traditional gym, with a climbing wall. My son climbed while I lifted. Something I never would have expected.

The week away from home – my longest trip since the end of 2019 – reminded me:

Life can simplify when the kids grow up. With little ones, I remember the insane amount of gear we used to carry when we left the house => pack and plays, strollers, separate food, clothes, helpers… it was a major operation, and exhausting.

Ten years on, my son and I were able to do a week away with backpacks, a duffel bag, coolers and a carry-on. This seemed impossible five years ago.

This feeds into a reminder that life will change in ways I can’t anticipate.


Mount Oxford

Looking from the outside, My life has changed radically.

Internally, I’m following a similar path => teaching and exploring nature.

I got here by understanding my deeper motivations.

Two key components of my family strategy:

1/. A willingness to compromise and no races. Instead, a focus on being able to move outside with family. Personal events have changed to quick trips with a little adventure.

2/. Patiently, and relentlessly, up-skilling my family. I did a lot of “slow hiking with preschoolers” to get to the point where my 10 year old son could enjoy a 28-mile circuit bagging high peaks. Same deal with our 8 year old, she’s good for ~7 mile routes in the High Rockies.

I resist the urge to “up it” with my kids. They are a profoundly good influence on my aging body and personality.

Again and again, life has shown that, over 5 to 10 year time horizons, we can have a HUGE impact on our life experience.

Keep it simple, one positive step per day.


No trail? No problem. Oxford SE Direct.

But I need to beware.

A hazard of enjoying myself, in any environment, is the temptation to make a capital commitment, with ongoing costs of ownership.

I must remember => owning an asset doesn’t improve my enjoyment, especially as I’m a person who dislikes admin.


14 push-ups at 14,000 feet // not my idea – although I may have encouraged my son to bang out 20 sets of 10 on the way up

The Real Thing

Above treeline with my kids on a Wednesday – most definitely, the real thing

Cam recommended a book…



A favorite currency is good ideas.

One good idea per book, per meeting, per trip…

Taking my kids to the library every Tuesday this summer => has proven to be a good idea. We look forward to the time together.

I spent decades being too busy to implement any good idea that involved slowing down.

I was only interested in ideas that helped me get more.


The good idea from the book above is “seek the real thing” => it’s similar to advice I give myself => look deeper, consider my un-met need, what are my actions saying about my values…



Approval – social media is driven by our need for approval. We get just enough to keep us coming back for more.

For me, the real thing is teaching kids. They are hardwired to think any reasonable human is an all-star, and that feels great.

Another favorite currency… a child’s hug, a deeper form of “like.”

Self-aware of goodness in action.

With the real thing, there’s no clutter, no background noise, no BS.



The author talks about sex being a motivator and it is, obviously.

…but that’s not always an option.

Consider skin-to-skin contact.

Massage, hugs…



Time, to look around

As an elite athlete, I’d rarely stop, take pictures or notice my surroundings. There was a constant feeling of being in a rush.

This feeling goes back as far as I can remember.

At child’s pace, there is plenty of time: tiny flowers, distant goats, chubby marmots, streams, snow patches shaped like dragons and bugs…

Time to notice > scrolling in air-con.

There’s a persistent illusion that I’m doing something when I’m roaming online, but I’m not.

And nature is a much more effective form of nothing.



…but I need to get past my personal inertia.

…and that’s the author’s point.

In a world of competing interests, prior commitments and personal goals… where to focus?

Focus on moving myself towards the real thing.


Each of our kids has a calming blanket – programmed into them since birth, along with skin-to-skin human contact. The blue one in this pic works well on both of us. 😉

Building Allies

I spent the last week 1-on-1 with our oldest. Some in Mexico, some in Boulder.

Our oldest has a big interest in all-things-family.

I spent the weekend getting her on-side with some family adjustments.


Many families keep the kids in the dark about family finances – with our oldest coming into her teens, I’ve started the process of educating her about how to run a household.

I’m hoping improved disclosure will result in her supporting shifting some of my wife’s time back to me!

Do you know how much money it takes to run the family? No idea.

Why don’t you guess. $1 million

No, no that much but I did work for a guy that was close to that. Big spending creates big pressure.

We iterated until she got close enough.

OK, I need to come up with that much cash every year. That’s my main financial job and I enjoy it.

Now, how many days do I get each month in exchange for coming up with that cash?

What do you want to do?

Well, I’d like to do something other than hang around the house, alone, and do housework.

This time she answered bang on => two days per month.

June, July and August => How many days are you away with Mom? Ten each month.

Let’s convert that to a nice round number for the year. 100 days.

Take those 100 days, are they going to make my marriage stronger, or create stress?

Panic (!) on her behalf as the penny drops… I talk her down and reassure her that our marriage is “great”.

She did not need any encouragement to want to strengthen her parent’s marriage.

She did need to calmly, slowly, be led through where her desire to constantly take her mother away might lead.

She immediately came up with a useful idea => alternate chaperones with her best-swim-friend. A win-win-win for all of us.


On to cleaning => Earlier, she’d been slamming the vacuum around because she didn’t want to do her weekly chores.

She gets this from me, I’ve been known to toss furniture when frustrated. I’m trying to cut back on acting-out frustration. Out of all of us, I’m the one who needs to improve the most!

Sweetie, did you notice that I spent the last two days cleaning the entire house?

Yeah, but you had nothing to do.

Sweetie, how do you think that statement makes me feel?

Not good?

Actually, not that bad, the house does look great and that makes me happy. Do you think that there is something else I might rather be doing than staying home alone and cleaning?

That led us into a discussion about relative contributions.

Human happiness is a relative metric.

Is it fair that I’m handling all the cash generation, and doing most of the housework?

What would you like me to do?

I’d like you to help me spend more time with your mother. She’s my favorite person in the world.

16 Years of Marriage

Handmade card – always a winner!

My wife asked me to share ideas about our marriage.

I’m better in writing, so I figured I’d leave this for my kids, and you.


This morning, the summit of Bear Peak – one of the coolest places in Boulder County

16 years – it went by in a flash.

My inability to feel duration, can make me a little sad. I have a hunch that soon I’ll be an old guy wondering what just happened!

Acknowledging the reality of the fleeting nature of time… it is useful at helping me stay focused.

No time to waste.


Best Swim Coach, EVER

VP Pence took heat for his rules of marriage. To me, they were OBVIOUS and reflect how I act.

  • I met my wife at the pool. As a result, I don’t train with attractive, athletic females (other than her – she’s very attractive).
  • I don’t consume alcohol with females, or anybody else.
  • I don’t find myself 1-on-1 with females, especially other people’s spouses.

The above is a simple risk mitigation strategy. Applied across domains, over 50+ years, it works.

I keep myself away from situations where a poor decision results in ruin.

I pointed this out with regard to Andy’s accident and it applies everywhere. The decision is best made before you have to make a decision.

How do you stack up?


Wedding Day

So many have conflicts over money.

I don’t.

Since the late-1990s, I’ve paid the living expenses of everyone (male/female) who’s lived with me. By the time, our youngest graduates high school the bill will be over $6 million.

My favorite wife-quote about family finances is when she said to me, “What do you know about money?”

I just smiled.

I know how to make it, when to stop reaching for it, and what’s more important than money.

My financial knowledge has enabled our family to live a good life AND I have been able to educate my kids.

Most parents want to see their kids grow up. I made a choice to go one step further. I’m educating our children in how I see the world. These lessons will endure into the next century.

Invert => how much of your family’s financial wealth from 1950 do you have right now?

My ancestors legacy is good ideas, memories of what didn’t work, a debt-free education and a life-changing introduction to my first boss in finance.


She wouldn’t have been smiling if she knew the doc had underestimated the size of the baby by three pounds. There’s a lot about childbirth that’s better not to know.

To finance our life, I need one good idea per decade. The rest of the time I avoid mistakes, and manage spending.

It takes a lot of effort to avoid mistakes. I write this blog to help my kids identify their inevitable mistakes.

Mistakes are effective teachers, I “manage” by:

  • letting things go wrong
  • letting other people be wrong
  • surfacing, considering and fixing my own mistakes

Across 50-100 year time horizons, wealth habits add up. A simple annuity calculation (laid out many times in previous blogs) will show that my choice to avoid financial conflict will end up “costing” my heirs millions.

The human capital I am building will more than cover this amount.

  • Education
  • Motivation
  • Ruin Not Experienced (divorce, substance abuse, spending, investment)

There is deep, multigenerational wisdom when we act with long time horizons. In my current life, I try to be the parent I’d like my grandkids to experience.


You will not regret creating a composite image, like this, for each of your pregnancies

What are the choices that caused your family tree to lose capital, lose members and lose productivity?

Be as open as possible about errors, they tend to repeat.


Not all toddlers are difficult

Two years ago, my son decided to hold up his finger and yell, “BOOGER!”

Yes, there was a nasty one hanging there!

As I sorted his booger, I decided to fire every staff member in my life.

What works:

  • An unimpeachable moral authority stemming from out-working everyone around me
  • Relentless attention to detail (in myself) – no days off, no exceptions
  • A schedule that enables me to follow up on the above, especially when it’s inconvenient

Before talking to others… How do I measure up?

Confidence comes from knowing you can outwork your competition over long time horizons. My kids are very confident, with good reason.

Tough to beat.


Get in my belly!

Let’s talk about staff.

We got through the highest stress period of our marriage (babies and preschoolers) because I had the courage to make a poor financial decision. I spent money so we could maintain some sort of life between the two of us.

Our recent trip to Death Valley let me price opting out (of living in the real world).

  • 160 student contact days ($50)
  • Leaves 205 non-student contact days ($200)
  • 365 overnights ($50)

Multiply that out, gross it up for payroll taxes => $80,000 per annum and I can watch someone else deal with my kids boogers… 😉

I’m sure many professional people cut that number in half when calculating the exit cost from an unhappy marriage, or when feeling overwhelmed (as we all do) with a young family.

But is that winning? Before blowing up a marriage, look two generations out, consider your unborn grandkids.

I don’t serve anyone by having my family see me opt out.

Queen Elizabeth comes to mind. Still grinding!

The goal of life is not to opt out of the obligations of citizenship, or be worshipped for position. To build a successful organization, requires a long term commitment to service.

Even then, there’s going to be scandals, setbacks, challenges and very good reasons to quit.

Keep moving forward and be comfortable with what you control (your actions).

Goodness, in action, inoculates one from the options of others.


If you want the result then you must accept the work.

Finding => Be the person you want to marry => you’ll have a positive influence on everyone around you and, when things don’t work out, you’ll be well placed to keep moving towards better.

Retaining => Be clear about your minimums => cleaning, sex, financial contributions, social engagements => table everything you hear your friends complaining about.

Optimizing => Take care of yourself => knowing it is better being married to an athletic spouse… I need to be an athletic spouse.

Being Effective => Do not manage from the couch => If you don’t care enough to stand up then let it go.

Willful Blindness Is The Seed of Bitterness => Be clear about what you don’t want => very few people want to be left alone and, even the kindest partner, is likely to grow bitter when the “division of inconvenience” is out of whack.

Knowing actions matter, I watch => in myself, and everyone around me…

  • What is done first?
  • Ruthlessly honest inventory of time allocation. Do not fool myself by saying something is important, when I allocate little time to it.
  • What am I doing when I am willing to inconvenience myself? My core values live here.
  • Is there something small I can do, daily, to support the people who are essential to me? Have I asked?

I try to stay humble by remembering how each chapter of my family’s story will end.

Iterate towards better. Document, then share what works.


The Beginning, O’ahu 2004

Live The Lesson


Often, when sharing my experiences verbally, the listener thinks I am:

  1. talking about their life
  2. giving them advice
  3. suggesting they are wrong

Any one of these is enough for a conversation to go sideways.

Better to blog!


There are a couple areas of life I know well.

I know these areas well because I have been able to live the lessons of the largest mistakes that have been made around me. This is my superpower.

So, I guess, when sharing my opinion on sensitive topics, it would be best to preface my observations with…

You could do that, you would certainly be justified. In fact, my family tried that a few times. However, for us, that course of action ended in a multigenerational disaster.


My mom died last year, so she won’t mind me sharing a family anecdote to illustrate my point.

Many years ago, I visited mom in Vancouver (our hometown). On the visit, she said she wanted to introduce me to a friend. I agreed and we headed off…

…to the courthouse!

Her friend was a security guard at the courthouse.

I didn’t get served with a summons but the introduction was a little weird. The guard was polite and we exchanged small chat before heading on our way.

Over the 1990s, mom had whittled down her peer group to a security guard at the courthouse. Social isolation did not have a positive impact on her mental health.

Her mental health descent was a biggie.

I have a childhood memory of mom being the cover story on Vancouver Magazine. It was a time when she was busy, engaged, productive and socially connected. One of the most successful businesswomen in town. Beautiful, happy and a very good mother to me.

FWIW, I look at the Free Britney movement and think we should give that family space. Many elements of that story fit pieces of my family history.


In a war, disagreement or divorce… at some point, someone has to stop fighting, regardless of the facts.

A few years after her Cover Story, mom’s life started to fall apart. In the process, she got into a habit of not letting go, of anything.

Mom sued everyone possible, for as long as possible, and achieved nothing but negative consequences for all parties.

Except me!

I inverted and applied this lesson, the lesson of watching what happens when we don’t stop fighting, as the guiding principle of my adult life.

My adult life truly started when I stopped engaging the toxic personalities in my life and… used money to avoid BS, the highest utility spending I know!

One example, I bought the contents of my home when I got divorced. I’d purchased everything in the first place, and paid off my spouse’s debts when we were married. So it seemed silly (to me) that I had to purchase everything again.

But I’d learned the lesson.

…and the check was small relative to the BS that would have resulted.

When you are thinking about using money for revenge… …better to use it for a clean exit, that moves you towards your long-term goals.


By the way, I could tell you all kinds of stories about “what was done to me” during my divorce.

My former spouse could do exactly the same.

We’d both be right.

Our stories would be true, and some would appear diametrically opposed.

Rather than arguing truth…

Sit back, pause and consider…

  • What’s best for the youngest members of the family?
  • What actions should I take with their interests in mind?

Ironically, in my divorce, I was the youngest person involved.

I took great care of my future self.

This isn’t always the case.

Kids bear all the pain from family conflict and receive none of the benefits.

Do you want to hear what was done to me? Actually, no. That wouldn’t be helping you, or the youngest members of your family.

What’s the outcome you want 10 years from now? Get to work on that.

Break the chain.