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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Dear Wall Street CEO" -- A Thanksgiving Missive

"Living Richly," vs. "A Rich Life"

[Editor's note: It's a little bit early for a Thanksgiving missive, but on the premise that no one will actually be reading this blog then, here goes:]

Dear Wall Street CEO:

Do you know the difference between living richly, and having a rich life?

Based on your words and actions, I'm guessing you don't.

So, let me offer my distinction.

Living Richly

Living richly is all about keeping (financial) score: how many homes do you have, how much they're worth, how big your, uh . . . "nut" is.

By contrast, having a rich life isn't about money (unless you're desperately short, like tens of millions of Americans these days).

Instead, it's defined by such things as:

--How many people trust you implicitly -- and how many people you trust that way;

--Having work that is not just remunerative but satisfying, and that harnesses your professional skills and talent(s);

--Whether you're part of a (reasonably) functional, loving family -- however you define it -- as well as a healthy larger community and society; and

--How much you use your life to improve the world as you found it -- indeed, how people will speak of you once you're gone (assuming they do).

On all these latter counts, I suspect you do quite poorly -- no matter how much money is in your bank account, or, after you're dead, how many concert halls, University buildings, or endowed professorships bear your name.

In the business world, you're a big winner -- there's no denying.

But that's hardly the only realm there is, or even the most important one.

Just some "food" for thought this Thanksgiving . . .


Ross Kaplan

Your fellow American and compatriot

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