Perhaps the best thing that happened to me in 2012 was I said NO to being run over by a tank in Santiago, Chile. “You won’t get hurt,” said Mattias, “trust me, there’s enough space underneath the tank.” The invitation was at the request of the President of Chile, who earlier that year had put out a press release saying his net worth had increased by $200 million since he had become President. This is capitalism at work and he had invited me down to become an eyewitness to it.
Someone wrote me that they were very upset because a deal they had been working on all year had not worked out. “How do you get past this?” he asked. Many times I get asked that. “How do I get past this bad thing that happened to me?” A relationship, a deal, an illness, an insult. And I deal with this question myself. Lots of bad things happen.
“How do you get past this?” Diversification is everything. You get past “this” by having lots of “thats”.
But on top of everything there’s one more thing. Being like a child. Last night my daughter woke me up and she was crying. “I forgot to do my homework today!” she said. “That’s ok, honey, we’ll do it tomorrow.” “But then New Year’s Eve Day is ruined,” she said, “it’s a holiday!” “Ok, we’ll do it the next day,” I told her, trying to calm her down so I could get back to sleep. “But New Year’s Day is a holiday!” and she was crying and I had run out of days.
Like we all will at some point. We’ll run out of days. And a child will cry and miss us. And eventually another child will cry and miss them when they are all grown up and the life is withered out of them.
Diversification is one thing, but a child forgets. January 2 will happen and my daughter won’t care what day it was she got her homework done. January 3 will happen and my daughter won’t even remember if she had homework this past weekend and January 4 will happen and my daughter won’t even remember any of the things she learned in her homework. January 5 will happpen, though, and I’ll still remember all the bad things that happened to me personally in 2012. Forget about failing at just one deal. In 2012 I had:
- three funds I tried to start, couldn’t get off the ground.
- i tried to get someone to buy one billion dollars worth of FB stock (before it went public) and failed
- I tried to get someone to sell 300mm dollars worth of twitter stock and failed
- i tried to get a 1 billion dollar JV on an oil deal done
- i tried to buy a million barrels of oil for someone and failed
- three companies i invested in, I had to write off as zeros
- i’m waiting to hear today if a company i invested in gets funding or if they will depend on me to avoid going broke by the end of today.
- i sold a house i never lived in. But lost 800,000 on it. Just glad to get rid of it now.
- my oldest became a teenager (which turns out to be a much bigger loss for me than i realized it would be.I will never have those years back).
- my mother accused me of killing my father and will no longer speak to me.
- both my sisters no longer speak to me.
- I get non-stop hatemail. I got one today saying I was “too jewish”, whatever that means. And over the weekend I got one from a jewish guy saying, “I was a disgrace to jews”. So I don’t win either way.
- i got results back from testing my DNA. I have double the risk of everyone else of getting Alzheimers. Ditto for Parkinsons. I told a friend I was going to write “The APo4E Diet” (Apo4e being the gene or chromosone or whatever for Alzheimer’s). She wrote back it would be a bestseller because everyone would forget if they had bought it already.
I was six when I got together one of those rockets that you fill up with water and then it shoots into the air, spraying water everywhere. It goes up 100 feet. “Will it go into space?” I asked my dad. “Maybe,” he said. And why not? I was six and anything could happen.
I was six when I designed a pair of glasses that could see backwards. I drew it and showed it to my grandparents. “You drew this?” said my grandpa, and right then I was pleased with my invention. I was six when I believed not only in Jesus but in Zeus and Hermes and Thor and Superman and my only wish was to be a superhero when I grew up.
When you’re a kid, everything has a question mark at the end of it. Only later do they turn into periods. Or even exclamation points. “Will I get over this?” becomes “It’s too late.” Becomes “I can’t get over this!”
My only New Year’s resolution for 2013 is to dot the landscape of my life once more with question marks instead of periods. To turn judgments into queries. To turn “this” into “that?”. To make every problem a maze. To be like a six year old. The next time the President of Chile wants me to get run over by a tank I might say yes. Or I might ride away on my spaceship and french kiss the angel on the moon. “Lips are beautiful,” I might say, before finally falling back to Earth.