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Inspired Growth

The most exciting moment in a career is when you find yourself in a situation that you are not qualified for.  You’re scared, but every cell in your body is on fire, stimulated like never before.  These moments are the most important in one’s life, and the most memorable.  It is when we find out what we have inside of us.

I remember my first job as a mortgage-backed securities trader in 1986 at the amazing firm led by Michael Milken, Drexel Burnham Lambert.  I was all of 25 years of age and was being entrusted to manage a market-making business with about $1B of capital at risk at any point in time.  While I did have some mortgage experience that helped me to understand the creditworthiness of a pool of mortgages, I had no real direct experience in many of the needed areas of expertise that my job demanded, including most importantly hedging the highly complex interest rate and basis risk that my business was subject to.  In short, I was definitely in over my head.  I can tell you that life was never more thrilling than that and I responded to the challenge by working insane hours to get myself up to speed and to master my trade.  The growth that was inspired in me was life changing.

This year my eldest son Michael Angel opened his first Fitwall studio as part of his Los Angeles-based Fitwall franchise.  It has been thrilling to watch the extreme personal growth he’s experienced as he has been faced with brand new challenges, and none of which he could have possible been completely prepared for.  I know it has been scary at times, but these past months have been like none before for him and I am certain will be lifelong memories for him.

In the 1990’s I was involved with Pete Wilson’s presidential campaign.  Pete had a great career including having served as the governor of California.  As I got to know Pete and imagined him as the President of the United States, I thought to myself – “There is no way that Pete Wilson is prepared to be the leader of the free world.”  In a quiet moment during his campaign when he was still in contention, I pulled Pete aside and I asked him if he’d ever imagined himself inside of the Oval Office as the President of the U.S.  I went on to ask him if he felt intimidated by that prospect, and if in these moments of imagining he actually thought “Can you F’ing believe it – I’m the President of the U.S.!!”  He is a very gentle and honest man and replied graciously that he indeed was humbled by that prospect.

Like many, I cannot turn away from the Trump Presidential candidacy.  Many of his detractors say that he’s completely unqualified.  To those people I ask: Who among the candidates (today or ever) is qualified, or could be, for this unimaginably daunting job?  People grow when challenged, and until that challenge no one, including that individual, truly knows what they’ve got inside of them.  Someone will be elected in 2016.  Whoever that person is, she or he will be supremely unqualified and unprepared for the job, for there is nothing to prepare one for the challenges of the U.S. Presidency.  I pray that the individual who does prevail will find something new and powerful, and something kind and inspiring within him/her to lead us.

As an aside, I often am amazed at what causes people to support a person for the job of President – what they believe qualifies a person for the chance to serve in this role that is so important to our nation and to the world.  I see so many supporting people who seem to me at least to be completely without a single shred of meaningful qualifications.  When I ask what it is that they see in their candidate I usually get blank stares and it is a very awkward moment.  I think that we should all think carefully about what specifically we are looking for in a President.  For me, there must be something that the individual’s candidacy can do to greatly improve things.  I also think that one must have demonstrated at some point in their lives that when challenged they have risen to the occasion to find greatness within them.  What are your criteria?

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