Blessed, with Responsibility

Day 30: Friday

Morning, Tim!

Depending on how you count it, we’ve been at it for a month! I figured I’d count it this way so that I could note it before you did (though you could have made a claim regarding “But February only has…” A missed opportunity…).

[…] Close our eyes and imagine somewhere we would like to be if we could be anywhere in the world.  When we opened our eyes he asked if the place anyone had imagined was room 312 YC high school.  I was the only one who raised their hand.  Maybe I was over thinking things, but if I really wanted to be somewhere else, wouldn’t I just get up and leave?

Decisions are a challenging thing. To be fair to your 14 year old classmates, I wonder if they really did have the power to go where they’d like. Perhaps some thought “man, I’d love to be at tacobell!” (depending on the hour of your class, perhaps Starbucks…). But others probably imagined the word Italy (it’s probably hard to imaging if you haven’t gone) or somewhere foreign – and where was a 14 year old to get the means to travel to Italy? Even getting up and leaving wouldn’t get them there. And so of course they sat in class, for that’s what they were told to do, many with the hope that life would be a long conditional. “If I do this [e.g. sit in school like I’m told], I’ll get to do that [e.g. go on vacation where I’d like, or perhaps even live there depending on my willingness to dream…]”

Or you could be an odd boy, realizing this train of thought, and….suggested that this was the place you wanted to be. I was that boy too…

Leaving your work would be an administrative decision that you make about the infrastructure of your life.  We don’t make those kind of decisions on a daily basis.

You don’t state it explicitly, but your discussion of decisions, infrastructure life decisions in particular, seems to lean toward an inability in at least some cases to truly make these changes. There are people who can make them (e.g. Jim Koch founded Sam Adams brewery after being fed up with consulting – but it was precisely because he was a management consultant that he was in a position to quit). In cases such as these, he describes them as scary but not dangerous; not dangerous because the other option was dangerous – looking back at 65 and wondering why he spent his whole life doing management consulting when that’s not what he wanted to do. I can appreciate this line of thought – I have been blessed with opportunities; while I work hard, I also know I’m lucky to be in the position I am.

In other cases, though, it is dangerous to make those infrastructure changes. For a single mom with three kids, there isn’t much room for adventure in the job market, nor to simply “get up and leave” because the consequences mount so high – hungry kids, an unpaid mortgage, utility bills mounting. Or, much worse, someone in a war-torn country who can’t leave because they literally can’t. They have nowhere to take refuge, no country to take them in.

Obviously you know all of this; I’m merely reflecting on decisions, infrastructure choices in particular. Reflecting on the choices I deliberate over…

I feel blessed to be able to even have the options I have in my choices. I also wonder what responsibility comes along with those options…

Until Monday,


p.s. I hope you chose to join the choir. Also if you do, I’ll anticipate a good picture of you doing some handshaking…

The Nuts of It

Day 2: Tuesday

Morning, Tim!

I’m excited to start a new project with you. I’m not sure why I let you go first; introductions seem to suit my skill set better than yours. Not that I do it well; but in a relative manner, you’re great at so many things, and I’m mostly good at introductions[1].

Thily fin seems like a wonderful adventure. As you set out yesterday, it is the box we get to fill. Together. I’m not sure how we’ll fill it, or with what, but thankfully we’ve agreed to keep trying each day. But you’ve really narrowed us in, put us in a box (literally). You didn’t specify how large of a box it is, so that could be a plus; or it could mean we are really cramped. I’m a large person, Tim – be considerate. Regrettably you’ve also made it live in a financial model; that ensures no one will read it.  I suppose if this thing never takes off, it’ll all go back to you opening, perhaps too remarkably. And some might say you should then get credit it if does take off.

But it’s in a financial model, so that’s not going to happen.

In other news, I’m remarkably impressed at how well you’ve captured my work life. Below you’ll find a selection from the financial model I was working on yesterday:

161108_Cashew_Nuts Cartoon_part 1.png

161108_Cashew_Nuts Cartoon.png

I call this piece “The Nuts of It”. It is actually the first in a two-part series on teaching financial modeling. If you’d like, I’m happy to continue teaching you about financial modeling; at least the bolts of it (nuts piece found above).

I suppose I’m done with my bad nut puns (for now).

I intended to write more, but it’s surprising how long those masterworks of art take to create. Eager to see how the Thily Fin box continues to be filled out. Were there things you had intended to fill it with? My initial suspicians: Music, Philosophy, Healthcare, Swordfish fighting (there’s gotta be a good Youtube channel on this, right?), Digital exercises (as in finger movements, not a silly phone app for cardio), etc.

Until tomorrow[2],



  1. As evidenced by this really strong introductory paragraph
  2. I got really worried I’d need a clever sign off that would work each time; then I realized you started with one that would be impossible to use correctly each time based on the aforementioned rules. A bit of a relief knowing I can take my cue by simply forcing you to be creative on Friday.

Thily Fin Information

Day 1: Monday

Good morning Zak,

As you know, today marks the beginning of our new blogging project.  We needed to start as soon as possible before we both came to our senses.  Beginning today, you and I will be posting our personal correspondences to Thily Fin on alternating week days: I post today, Wednesday, and Friday, you post Tuesday and Thursday this week, etc.

Under your advisement, I have taken it upon myself to write our first entry.  This is obviously a very easy task, since all I have to do is write the worst entry I can so that expectations will be as low as possible.  That’s why the opening of every great piece of literature is always the least memorable part:

“Midway through the journey of our lives, I found myself in a dark woods, for the right way had been lost…

“When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed into a monstrous vermin…

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…

You can only go uphill from there, Zak.

It’s easy to feel self-conscious about “creative” writing.  I think that’s because it’s something no one really expects of you.  Like, Zak, you wouldn’t feel self-conscious about turning in a financial report to your boss. (I assume that’s the kind of thing you do when you have a real job.)  That’s because every part of that report would be meeting very clear expectations, and whatever you included would either be right or wrong.  But if somehow that report form had an extra blank box in which you were supposed to enter the “thily fin information,” you might be a little bit anxious.

I’m guessing it would show up right before “total liabilities expected for the coming fiscal year.”  Maybe you would decide to draw a picture.  Maybe you’d write a story about an internally conflicted cashew.  Whatever you decided to do, you probably would wish that your boss had been a little more specific about what he was looking for.

The thily fin box, though, is probably one of the more memorable blank little boxes that could show up on a financial reporting form.

Until tomorrow,