Friday, September 26, 2014

Getting your priorities right

I'd wondered why super-successful, world-famous investor Mohamed El-Erian had resigned from PIMCO earlier this year.  Turns out it was for a very good reason indeed.

A British-educated investor who quit his job as chief of the world’s biggest bond business has revealed he resigned after his 10-year old-daughter gave him a note citing 22 milestones in her life he had missed.

. . .

The 56-year-old, who is now Chief Economic Adviser at German insurer Allianz, Pimco’s parent company, told wealth management magazine Worth : “About a year ago, I asked my daughter several times to do something — brush her teeth, I think it was — with no success. I reminded her that it was not so long ago that she would have immediately responded, and I wouldn’t have had to ask her multiple times; she would have known from my tone of voice that I was serious.

“She asked me to wait a minute, went to her room and came back with a piece of paper. It was a list that she had compiled of her important events and activities that I had missed due to work commitments. Talk about a wake-up call.

“The list contained 22 items, from her first day at school and first soccer match of the season to a parent-teacher meeting and a Halloween parade. And the school year wasn’t yet over. I felt awful and got defensive: I had a good excuse for each missed event! Travel, important meetings, an urgent phone call, sudden to-do.

“But it dawned on me that I was missing an infinitely more important point. As much as I could rationalize it — as I had rationalized it — my work-life balance had gotten way out of whack, and the imbalance was hurting my very special relationship with my daughter. I was not making nearly enough time for her.”

Mr El-Erian’s punishing work hours as CEO of Pimco have been widely reported. Friends said on an average day his alarm clock went off at 2.45am. He then arrived at the office by 4.15am, returned home to his family about 7pm, before eating and going to bed around 8.45pm.

There's more at the link.

Some have sneered that it's easy for a man to do this - and afford it - when he managed a $1.9 trillion bond investment fund and had earned $100 million for himself last year alone . . . but I'm still glad to read it.  It shows that even super-tycoons can be human sometimes.  I find that refreshing.  I hope his example inspires others to do the same.

I can't help being reminded of a man whose taxes I used to do for him back in the 1980's.  He was a very successful businessman in South Africa, with a personal net worth of over R70 million (about $25-$30 million at that time) and earning several million more every year.  He worked 80+ hours every week, doing nothing but focus on making more money.  He had several expensive cars, two Mercedes-Benz, two BMW and a couple of others.  He had his own aircraft.  He kept the equivalent of $2-$3 million in the bank in cash at all times, just in case he felt like buying something.

He was also on his third marriage, and very unhappy in it.  He'd paid millions in divorce settlements to two previous wives.  His daughter was a prostitute to support her drug habit, and his son was a feckless layabout drug-user who'd been in trouble with the law on innumerable occasions for drinking, driving and the like.  He'd also fathered two kids on casual partners, for whom his father had again paid through the nose to hush up the scandal.

Had his success made this man happy?  Were his riches a blessing or a curse? Had they - and he personally - been a blessing or a curse to his kids?  You figure it out . . .



Glenn B said...

I used to miss things in my kids lives because of work and it happened fairly frequently but I made sure to take the time to be with them too. I coached my daughter's and son's soccer teams (well I assisted anyway), brought my son to baseball and hockey and became the head coach of his hockey team after years of assisting. I drove my daughter to Rochester, NY for a state championship swim meet, I brought and taught them camping, fishing, shooting and brought my son hunting. Last night, when discussing my mom, who passed two days ago, and ,e saying I hoped I was a better parent than my own father or mother, my son told me I have been a great father. he will be 25 in December and to tell you the truth that made me happier than having all those millions ever could do for me.

All the best,

bruce said...

the kid expects a lot, where did she get the ideas?

Anonymous said...

I quit a well paid job that involved a massive amount of travel (basically Mon-Fri every week) when my second daughter was born. My first was 2 and her potty training was going backwards, and she was angry with me all the time. She hadn't hugged me in weeks.

When I told her I wouldn't be leaving again, she smiled and hugged me.

I see them every day. I feed them breakfast and dinner, and put them to bed. They change every single day, and grow constantly. I wouldn't miss this for anything.

Yes, I acknowledge that I am especially privileged to be able to do this. Many men are committed to defending our land and CAN'T choose to be home. Others aren't in the same position financially. I'll still take it for me. It is magical and you DON"T get another chance.