in Reinventing

The London High Finance Trips & What Really Matters

In a departure from my typical blogs about startups and my professional journey, I’m writing about something touching I saw on an airplane a moment ago.  But first, a reasonably long tangent…

Something superficial that eluded me during my previous career in financial services was a business trip to London. Even though I was a SVP level guy upon leaving the biz, I was never in a situation where my revenues were overwhelmingly tied to UK clients, and so the timing just never aligned for me to go out there and prospect or market the product I was offering.

US-based guys (it was always guys) would seem to really enjoy their rare trip across the pond, with stories of hard partying and camaraderie from our English counterparts and clients.  Alternately, for the long-time international traders and salesmen, the luster had dimmed, and trips were very quick and the travel was exhausting.  It was often about seeing old friends, or having sometimes tough conversations with important clients they’ve had some ups and downs with over the years. 

Still, I was a young guy (I left Wall Street still in my early 30’s) I was always hopeful to make the trip.  The idea of wearing a smart suit, popping in and out of black cars in The City (no ubers then!), taking a transatlantic flight and elegant evenings on the company’s dime, interfacing with professionals from a much older and grander money game, the politeness, the accents, was very exciting to me.  Of course, nowadays it means very little to me.

So here I am about to take off for 5 days in London, probably feeling overdressed the whole time, as I like to wear button downs instead of flip flops.  I’ll be spending time with some great people, plenty of them possibly reformed bankers and wankers, sharing space in neighborhoods and offices thinkable in their old life.  Working on stuff that’s important where money isn’t the #1 driver in our lives.

So minutes ago, from my seat I saw a family of four do something very special.  It was a mother & father and their two tween daughters.  And as the flight was about to take off, each member stopped talking and kissed each of the  other member on the cheeks in earnest.  Even the daughters, who, and an uncle of tweens, I imagine are not always getting along very well, looked each other in the eyes and kissed one another.

The ritual they shared moved me, especially as I think about the fact that I will end this year with a wife and hopefully we can create others to join us in the years to come. I think about how in that moment this family puts aside whatever bullshit is going on, any anxiety about the next six hours is going to be like for them, and be just grateful for the things that matter most.   It’s part of the lesson I’m learning about how sometimes the little things shouldn’t be overlooked in our most important relationships. Maybe take a pause, think about how fortunate we are to fly in the sky to somewhere different, and how lucky are we that we can do it together.

Yes, maybe for this family the action may very well be rote- but it was lovely nonetheless.  I hope it’s something I’ll be able to do with my family one day and perhaps inspire and remind another young man or woman about what life’s really about.