There have been some interesting years, some challenging years, some sad years, and lots of really good years in my career as an advisor. This year has been all those things. The “good” comment probably sounds outlandish but be patient; I’ll get there.
The Interesting Part
2020 was interesting from the perspective of a student on the market. Never in history has the market fallen so far so fast. Twenty-two trading days from peak to trough. Similarly, we had a meteoric recovery thanks in part to the tech industry’s ingenuity, whose products and developments kept the country open and moving. I don’t know how we could have managed this year without email and web-based communication technology like Zoom (which I hope doesn’t replace meeting face to face). We’ve not learned all of the lessons from this year (I doubt we’re even close), but we did galvanize some of the ideals we’ve believed in all these years:
- Know your risk budget and don’t overspend it
- News makes waves while fundamentals drive markets
- Jumping off a moving roller coaster normally doesn’t end well
The Hard Part
I don’t know many who haven’t had some amount of difficulty this year. It’s common, and I’d imagine that we could say that every year, but this year just seems even more so. Being isolated from one another is a terrible thing. Being quarantined is one thing, but COVID did more than keep us at home. Our daughter contracted COVID early on, and the stress of her being sick with a virus that we knew little about and not being to see her and take care of her was terrible. Thankfully, she recovered in short order. Many didn’t battle COVID directly but were affected, nonetheless. Some lost jobs. Some lost businesses. The lucky ones struggled with working remotely for the first time. The even less lucky worked from home and became their children’s teachers.
The Sad Part
For some, 2020 brought sadness that will not quickly wear away. You lost loved ones, and maybe you couldn’t say goodbye or have closure from a service or celebration of life. We all lost precious time – with aging parents, with family, and with friends. We’ve seen people struggle with isolation and depression and had little or no opportunity to help. Our places of worship closed. Our charities suffered. Many simply did with less, or worse, without. We’ll heal, and with time and a cure, we will all be able to move past.
The Good Part
I recently said something about being positive, which made my wife chuckle. It’s easy to see me as negative if you don’t take a closer look—my career centers on risk analysis and reduction. I can’t afford to be naive or oblivious to what may go wrong. But it doesn’t mean my glass is half empty. It’s quite the opposite. I believe life is good, and things work out the way they’re supposed to.
My life is filled with my Dad’s words – “You can figure it out,” “Just solve the problem,” “Work on it and it’ll come to you,” and his famous, “I can hit that shot.” That last one, not so much! I also believe that we are at our best when it’s the worst. I see more people walking in my neighborhood than ever before. I see parents in the yard playing with kids. What an opportunity parents have, albeit it may be a pinch at times.
Never in my lifetime have I seen the entire world work to solve the same problem. I hope this cooperation continues to germinate. Quarantining has made me realize how truly blessed I am to have such a fantastic family and group of friends. I do miss them all so much. I miss all of you too. I’m lucky that you all are such a great bunch and a treat to work with. I hope we exit this time with a deeper value of one another, and a desire to be more engaging in a personal way and less of a technological way. A call is better than a text and not as good as seeing you in person.
Personal Notes from 2020
Kelley and I bought a place in Fairplay, Colorado a couple of years ago. It’s in a high valley in the middle of nowhere. It reminds me of my childhood home on the ranch. We‘ve been able to spend much more time there than we’d ever thought. We’d drive up on a Saturday and plugin on Monday and work there for the week. Kelley is much better at working remotely than I. No matter the number of hours or tasks completed, if I’m not at the office at my desk, I feel unproductive. It’s silly, I know.
Our oldest daughter and her husband moved back after years of being away. Nine, to be exact. David finished his obligation with the Army discharging honorably as a Captain. Kelsey is teaching again but decided not to coach volleyball this year. She was previously the head coach at the Americas High School in El Paso. David started completely anew with JP Morgan as an investment banking analyst. I’ve yet to wrangle any of my kids into the business. They’re expecting their first child in February. He’ll be our first grandchild. Kelley has completely lost her mind, and I’m worn out from playing it cool. Again, silly.
Allie, our younger daughter, is the family COVID champion. It’ll be a cool story someday. She started working at American Airlines last fall as a price analyst. She was nervous for a bit but being the smart, hardworking employee she is, she’s not only retained her job but instead moved to the pricing group for Europe. She downplays it, but we’re proud to see her working her way up. If we can only get Auntie A to move back to the Ft. Worth side of the metroplex, all would be right.
I performed my third wedding ceremony this year. The first was my best friend Michael from college. The second my daughter Kelsey, and the third Stephen Walden and his bride Bailey. Little Stephen is the son of my best childhood friend, Todd (I’m big Stephen). It was such a fun experience. I’ve known Stephen since he was a baby, actually since before he was born; and to be a part of his growing family means something to me, I can’t quite put into words.
I’m not one to make resolutions, but I do always set goals. Maybe there’s a difference, and perhaps there isn’t. I haven’t sat down and made the official list yet, but I can share some things that easily make the list.
- Spend more time with family and friends
- Focus on health. I refer to this COVID filled year as “the taco season.”
- Less TV
- Explore more
I really enjoy Christmas. I love the memories most. Being little, Mom and Dad taking us to Thorton’s department store to look at the window decorations, and then up the escalator to see Santa. Trying to stay in bed Christmas morning past 5:00. Adopting a family and giving gifts to others. Decorating the tree for the first time with my new wife and daughters. Getting gifts for the kids they really wanted, or better yet, things they didn’t expect and loved. Mexican food on Christmas Eve at Mom and Dad’s. I smile thinking about it all.
Christmas isn’t just about the celebration; it always brings me to my faith. My beliefs are fundamental to who I am. Know that I have lifted you all up repeatedly this past year, asking that you be protected, healthy, and unaffected. I’ve asked that for all of us. I’ve asked that we navigate not only this virus but the contentiousness of the election. I pray that you find peace and happiness.
I wish all of you well, and what struggles you may have or have had subsided. It’s a season of hope. I hope we all have a great 2021!
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