’Twas The Night Before New Year’s: A Mentor’s Intangible Heart

FOREWORD: I believe real wealth is intangible. I respect leaders who value ideas over material gains. In hunting for talent, I look for attitude, skill and knowledge, and I always put the intangible attitude above all else for future leaders. I’ve never understood why business leaders and investors so often fail to see the “intangibles” connection, because to me that is what makes life worthwhile. I believe it is the “intangible” factor that allows leaders to focus on the future with greater clarity and that empathy and a giving heart are the true force that moves business and innovation forward. And while emotional intelligence may be difficult to evaluate, it is one of the most important intangible qualities of good leaders. After all, great leaders make the intangible tangible and the unseen seen. I also believe that leadership itself is a complex intangible. And with that, I’ll share my thoughts from a simple, intangible perspective that I feel most should relate to, in the hope that it’ll shift your perspective as we head into 2018.

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’Twas the night before New Year’s, and all through Twitter and Instagram, all the tweeters and IGers were wishing each other a Happy New Year and sharing their New Year’s resolutions. As for me, I’ve decided to pen a few lines looking back at my thoughts over the past year and at all that’s unfolded, as one’s life’s journey will always be marked by both victory and defeat — along with some things we hope we’ll never repeat. It is, after all, true that we sometimes have to take a small step backward to take a bigger step forward.

I have penned a number of analytical pieces about Wall Street, investments, tech, the economies, and political opinions which have been published in Forbes, TechCrunch, Inc., Huffington Post, FastCompany, etc. But, I believe this is the very first time that I am sharing a personal, intangible piece.

A mentee/friend recently sent me this text message, and I am quoting: Well, I like how you are always honest and direct. There is an aura around you all the time. It helps people without you even doing anything. People are drawn to you and your energy … but sometimes people would rather steal that energy from you than embrace it. As Walter Scott once said, “For success, attitude is equally as important as ability.” I would agree with this mentee/friend as I believe the “enemy” does not always go after your money or your assets, but tends to want your mind, your attitude, your heart, your Faith, your peace, and your soul. But, always remember: These intangible things are the very things that people can never steal from you. And they are also the things that really matter.

I personally believe that people who are well-liked share certain traits: They ask for nothing, laugh at themselves from time to time, listen with a compassionate heart, and seldom complain while always inspiring others to stretch themselves and succeed. They also teach, and most importantly, they GIVE. I believe that if we put the needs of others first, our needs will automatically be taken care of, as has been the case with me more times than I can count. It really costs absolutely nothing to be a kind, decent human being. Be the person who touches the lives and hearts of other people. Be a positive light to others as you put a smile on their faces. For, in the end, it’s not what you say that matters; it’s how you make people feel. It’s your actions that will lovingly stay in their memory eternally.

I recently read how George Clooney — an American actor, director, producer, screenwriter, activist, businessman, and philanthropist — gave 14 of his group of male pals that he nicknamed “The Boys” a million dollars each, for a total of $14 million, in 2013. He even coughed up an additional $3.5 million to pay for all their gift taxes. I can’t tell you how much this story has inspired me because I believe I have been walking a similar path.

Like George, I have already begun gathering my own group of — female — pals that I’ll nickname “The Gals” and to whom I will gift something of value. If you are one of those souls that I’ve been fortunate enough to cross paths with — yes, you read that correctly: the lucky soul would be me — and there was something genuine about you and your soul that touched me just as “The Boys” touched GC, I will have already given you such a gift, and your acceptance will have made an imprint on my life’s journey.

I have always believed that life is about giving and never just taking. I have been blessed, so I will continue to give until I reach that magic number of GC’s “14” — though my number will either be 11 or 13, as these two numbers have a unique and special meaning to me. Therefore, I’ll stick with what’s meaningful. How many more names do I still need to add to my list, you may ask. Haha … Well, GC distributed his gifts just four years ago when he was 52 years old. I still have a way to go before I reach George’s age, so I’ll take my time gathering my 11 or 13 gal pals, only because it isn’t every day that someone is able to touch another’s soul and vice versa. And I’m pretty sure it was the same with GC.

No, this piece isn’t a personal story about giving gifts, just as I don’t believe that’s what motivated GC to give his boys a million dollars each. I believe those who do not understand the indebtedness of a giving soul will see the $14 million dollars GC gave away as a tangible asset, but those who do understand the indebtedness of someone’s soul will see that GC split his heart into 14 equal pieces and stamped each fragile piece with a value of $1 million. It is the intangible heart and soul that will always carry more weight than the monetary materialism of life. But, few are able to see or understand such indebtedness.

Money is the most tangible thing in life, and many see only tangible things as important; but, like GC, I see the intangible things as far more meaningful. And, oddly enough, I’ve found that those who seek the intangibles and give away the tangible goods find that it’s the intangibles that empower them to be so much more successful in life. Just take a look at George Clooney’s life as merely one example.

Funny, I have been asked more than once if I’ve ever regretted giving those valuable gifts. My response? One only regrets giving if such gifts were seen as something tangible. My gifts have always been intangible, as the thought of giving that’s behind such gifts was always given priority over the gift being given. So, if thoughts were given their rightful place in giving, there would and should never be such a thing as having regrets. I can’t imagine GC ever regretting his $14 million dollars either, and his gifts are much more valuable than mine — at the moment. I don’t know what your true definition of success is, but mine has always been that true success goes far beyond the material world.

The New York Times once reported that doing good for others helps those who give as well as those who receive. A beautiful heart can bring things into your life that all the money in the world could never obtain. You aren’t rich until you have something that money can’t buy. So, “Do to others as you would have them do to you,” (Luke 6:31). Like the two-faced Roman God Janus, it’s a reminder that everyone has two sides — the bad and good sides, the past and the future — and that we must embrace both in someone we love. We must love the perfection in them and love them even more in their imperfection. In the end, always believe LOVE NEVER FAILS (1 Corinthians 13:8)!!

Now that the New Year is upon us, I plan to continue my journey of seeking the intangibles of life and be a “gifter” of all that I see as tangibles. I always have and always will give the tangibles and retain only the intangibles. If I could wish anything for YOU in the new year, it would be that you would follow your feelings, your goosebumps, the sensation that lives just outside your skin and deep inside your soul. Let it lead you in all that you do. Don’t ever be impressed by money, social status, or job title. Instead, be very impressed by the way someone treats other human beings. After all, genius rests in simplicity — not complexity. Life is truly simple. We simply insist on making it complicated.

At the end of the day, people want your heart because selflessness breeds love. They want your mind because conversation breeds connections. They want your soul because energy breeds an intangible bond. And they want you because nothing replaces the impact of your presence. These beautiful words were written by an anonymous soulful being, whoever he or she may be.

As Helen Keller once said, “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” Be around those who take care of your soul, your well-being, your heart, and everything that’s you. Life is such that successful people only build each other up as they continue to motivate, inspire, and push each other. Don’t be one of the unsuccessful people who just hate, blame, and complain. Choose the person you’ll become in 2018!

Also understand that, as Vironika Tugaleva has flawlessly put it, “To love everyone unconditionally does not mean to give everyone your unconditional time. Sometimes, to love completely, we must never see someone again. This, too, is love. This is giving someone the freedom to exist and be happy, even if it must be without you.” She has also said, “A soul mate is not found. A soul mate is recognized.” In the Chinese/Asian culture, my mom always taught me to only fight to keep those who wanted to be kept. In other words, love is worth fighting for, but not if you’re the only one fighting. I believe that life must become richer and fuller by loving. Otherwise, it’s no good at all … for anyone.

Here’s to those who seek the tangibles of life … until you see and understand how much more valuable the intangibles are … for that is when you’ll seek the enlightenment of ultimate wealth and success. As Albert Einstein once said, “Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” I, too, believe that what makes one successful in life is not seeking after success but making oneself a person of value — intangible value. For, then success soon follows.

Here’s to your 2018. May it bring prosperity, positivity, good energy, less talk, more action, more growth, no overthinking, dedication, motivation, consistency, self-evaluation, and more love — definitely MORE LOVE! I have no doubt that YOUR 2018 will be stronger, braver, kinder, and that you will be unstoppable — and that’s exactly what I’m rooting for!

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