Last week I caught a train into town for a high-flying executive meeting about a new managed fund I am thinking about starting up. It was a room full of smart (and expensive) advisers – partners from a law firm and an accounting firm, an experienced funds management professional… and me.
It must have been an important meeting because I dressed up for it, putting on a suit and a tie!
The meeting went well, although it was mentally tiring, and I was looking forward to chewing over several perplexing matters on the train ride home. But this was not to be.
When the train arrived, I searched for a seat. I found myself making my way to an unusual looking character – a youthful looking girl with bright pink hair, positioned next to a mammoth teddy bear taking up the entire space next to her.
Sitting down opposite her, I smiled and said “Nice Bear.”
And so it was that a conversation was started. We talked about how the bear came to be in her possession, whether it was a male or female bear, what the bear’s name might be and how the girl’s cat was going to feel about a new addition to the family.
About ten minutes in, my conversationalist extended her hand and said “I’m Nicki, by the way. That’s Nicki with an ‘i’, not a ‘y’.”
Shaking her hand I said, “Hi. I’m Steve.”
“You’re all dressed up. Are you a politician or something?”
“No”, I replied and laughed. “I play Monopoly in real life – investing in property and making money – for me and for others too.”
The conversation turned to what Nicki hoped to do for a career. Sadly, she had run away from home and was living with her sister now. She was supposed to be in school but didn’t like the teachers, so mostly she didn’t bother attending – being such a waste of time, and all.
Nicki’s sister (19) was in a relationship with a 51 year old – another woman. They were happy, although the household could get a little emotional from time to time.
I definitely didn’t see it my role to parent, but rather just to listen and encourage.
Soon it was time to say goodbye. As the train pulled into my station, I made ready to leave, and remarked how happy I was to have met Nicki, how I enjoyed our conversation very much, how it made the journey enjoyable, and how I hoped that everything would turn out well for both her and her new bear. We shook hands again and I stood to make my way to the door – most likely never to meet again.
Although speaking to my back (as I was walking away), Nicki called out cheerfully “Make good choices!”
I turned, warmly smiled and said “Sounds like wise advice to me. I’ll try.”
People sometimes ask me “Steve, who are your mentors?” It’s a long list, and now Nicki is on it too.
Make good choices – simple, succinct, superb – a sure-fire strategy for success.
The teacher comes when the student is ready. I hope by sharing this encounter that Nicki’s advice will be a blessing for you too.