Russell Bjorkman: Which Mountain Are You Climbing? [Crowell School of Business]

Russell Bjorkman: Which Mountain Are You Climbing? [Crowell School of Business]


[calm music]>>This was a really
interesting talk for me to think about how to give. And because you’ll see my path and my life has been pretty diverse, pretty
eclectic in certain areas. And so, if some of you know, I was, I’m reading with a friend,
I’m a big fan of reading and talking through books with people. So I’m reading “12 Rules
of Life” by Jordan Peterson with a good friend of mine and
we’re kind of going through a chapter every other week. So I kind of took that theme with really a handful of observations. Not rules, I wouldn’t be
that prescriptive at all but it’s really meant to be
kind of some observations. It’s also meant to be
very, very real-world. Although I do have very,
I said this at dinner. We had kind of dinner beforehand. I have very specific moral specifics as to kind of why I’ve set my path out and my life out the way I have. And feel free to ask about that when we do the Q&A but really the point is really to kind of more
like real politic right? Like this is what I see in
the world when I’m out there and really this is how
I would encourage you to think about things. Irrespective of the
moral kind of perspective you take on them. Really just to bring
the issues to your mind. So let’s see if we can move forward. So when I was talking with,
I came down and talked with Kaylie for a few minutes
before kind of sketching out exactly what I wanted
to talk about and I was, so I gotta give Kaylie credit ’cause this, Kaylie actually, I said you know, these are some ways I
could go with the talk and she’s like maybe that’s your talk. You know, what mountain are you climbing? So I give Kaylie credit for the talk, the topic or the kind of title tonight and I’ll delve into that in
one of the points specifically but the general theme is what
mountain are you climbing? Let’s see, and like I
said, this is really, you know I wanna make this a relaxed talk. You’ll see this is more much to talk about kind of philosophy and observations. It’s not a talk about kind of, here’s how I started a company, here’s how I made a billion dollars. Here’s how I gave it all away. It’s much more a talk of kind of, here’s kind of some philosophy of life. And it is amazing you
know, in the different. So I turned 45 this month
and I mentioned at dinner the you know, I’m really kind of, most people older than myself will work, you know, many of whom
will work one or two jobs and have a more traditional course. I’m really right in the middle of people who will change career paths a few times and almost everyone younger than myself will change career paths an incredible amount of times right? It might be five, six, seven times and if you add in like
side hustles or you know, side gigs or whatever. It might even be more right? And so I think that these points about really thinking intentionally about what you wanna get out of life, kind of where you want,
how you wanna balance spiritual and financial interests are even more important
the younger you are. So let’s see. Little bit about, that’s the introduction. A little bit about the background. I grew up in Miami, I was very,
very serious about sports. This is relevant, kind
of to a specific point I’ll make later. So serious we had a batting
cage in our backyard in Miami and I played with my dad you
know, with the lights on. Batting cage with lights in the backyard basically every night. I did the things that people do. Like AAU and Lonzo Ball’s stat and everything you read about now. Like I was doing 30 years
ago, so I repeated 8th grade for sports development. That’s how serious I was. I had all As but I
still repeated 8th grade so I could be bigger and stronger and that’s how important sports was to me and it’ll be, I’m really
kind of making a note ’cause it’ll be really
relevant when I talk about one of the points later. My father was a firefighter
for City Miami for 25 years. One of the most dangerous parts of Miami, they got shot at during
the riots in Miami, things like that. He had a few side projects. He built some houses, he
got firefighters together and built some houses. And did some other work. And even though he was
actually really busy and the way the firefighters
work you’re kind of on 24 hours you’re off 48 hours but when he was off I always remembered him
being home for dinner and so that’s really kind of the, I’m saying that to kind of flag kind of a really, the first kind of, one of the first
observations or philosophies of life that I made is
the importance of my dad being home for dinner
and so that’ll kind of, that theme will come back in the talk but really just to flag that. And you know, I had the privilege, the great privilege of working
in London and Hong Kong for 10 years which I’ll talk about. In London, I had five weeks of holiday from the first day I finished school which is pretty uncommon. I took all the holiday almost every year. I think every year I took all the holiday. And Hong Kong was like the opposite. I worked, I still do corporate law but I went from like one
bookend to the other. I went from like, I mean
you work hard in both but taking holidays and kind
of not working on the weekend just because it’s a day
to working your tail off and I think that that’s very relevant in modern society because
every stat in America shows that people work
more and more and more and to my knowledge it’s like
what they say about land. They’re not making any more land. So the year is not getting any longer, the hours are not getting any longer. So if people used to work
1800 hours a year in 1960 and they’re working 2000
hours a year you know, in 2020 right? Those hours, they really
do come from somewhere and having had the privilege
of working in Europe and having had the
privilege of working in Asia and working in the States you can kind of start to see how culturally these things make a real difference right? So if you’re working that many hours, they come from somewhere. They come from your physical health, they come from your relationship health, they come from your kids’ health. Right and you end up paying for it later and these are just kind of
some setting up kind of context for some of the points
I’m gonna make later. So I went to USC, like
the introduction said. I mean I don’t wanna kind of
necessarily repeat it all. I studied accounting
and psych which I love. I love kind of, the
more diverse you can get I think the better at
an undergraduate level. I love studying diverse things. If you ever read about Steve
Jobs he studied calligraphy and he studied yoga and
all this like crazy stuff and then he tied it together in some way. So I think the more you
can stretch your mind I think the better. I went to Penn. When I was at, when I was at Wharton we were number one business
school in the world. You know the kind of rankings
change but when I was there we were number one and
Wharton has 750 kids a year. I was the only one who got in with non-traditional work experience. So I went straight from
undergrad to grad school. You’re supposed to work
before MBA school most people, I didn’t work. And I say this. This is really kind of
to set a trajectory up and so that when you understand some of the decisions I’ve made in life you can understand kind of
how intentional they were. I worked in London and
Hong Kong for 10 years. I did IPOs. So companies doing public offerings and high-yield debt offerings. So that’s like a private equity firm goes and buys an equipment manufacturer or Hertz buys like a car rental company and there’s a lot of income and so they, they kind of put debt on that to get some of their money back. Helped a lot of
interesting deals in China. South Africa, Kazakhstan, Bangladesh, and I’m, give you a couple of examples just to kind of set some
of the interesting things you can do in the international world. So probably three of the most
interesting deals I worked on. One was FIFA which is of
course the world soccer governing body which
you know, 20 years ago people in America didn’t
pay as much attention to. Now people know who they are. They had their recent kind of corruption but FIFA, because they used to self-insure for the World Cup. So they used to get, sell all
the advertising ahead of time and they used to take all
the money and spend it. Rightly or wrongly they’d spend
all the money ahead of time. So the money was gone. So if there was a, if terrorism happened and
the World Cup was canceled which was a very real possibility, after 9/11 and everything
they were sitting on maybe $400 million
that they had to return that they didn’t have in their pocket. So how do you deal with that? So what they did is they were, we did it the first deal to
ever pass the risk of terrorism onto the financial markets. So they then issued bonds and
you bought it as a bond holder and if the World Cup was
canceled for some reason the bond holders would be the ones who would lose their money. Not FIFA, and so you as an
investor were making a bet as to whether terrorism
would cancel the World Cup. So very interesting, also very practical ’cause FIFA couldn’t sit on $400 million. They spent the money, like
they had to spend the money on their obligations. So that was a really interesting deal. I did the IPO of Grameen
Phone in Bangladesh which is Mohammed Yunus
won the Nobel Prize for Grameen Bank which is kind of, was one of the first to microfinance. It kind of launched kind
of 1000 microfinances. Ladies in the villages with phones and they would kind of sell the phone time to the people in the
village in Bangladesh. So that was a very interesting
deal ’cause you had a, social entrepreneur in Bangladesh with an investor Telenor which is a Norwegian telcom
company that does a lot of really a lot of socially good work. Investing around in the emerging markets. So we did that IPO, very
interesting trying to navigate the Bangladesh capital markets which were not developed very kind of, very hard to figure out. And we did a deal in Kazakhstan which most people know from Borat. You know not actually
a real Kazakhstani guy. And when you do deals,
when you do these deals, as an attorney or as a banker, you’re getting news feeds. So like you would, as an example, if you’re doing a deal in Kazakhstan you’d set a news feed to Kazakhstan and you would get all
of the news just to see what’s going on in the markets. So you could follow it right? ‘Cause if you got some
news across your desk that the government was gonna take away the mining rights or something or that they were going
to war with somebody you had to either stop the deal or you had to tell the
investors and this was the, so we were doing the deal at the same time that Borat was all over the news. So we used to get like the most ridiculous and then you have like
the secretaries are doing the news clippings and
giving it to you every day. So we used to get the most ridiculous, you know your other deal
you get a news clipping like telcom in you know, France,
this is what’s going on. Like, you know like
pharmaceuticals in Germany. Like not boring, boring
boring boring news stuff. You’re just looking for weird stuff. But just very boring news clips. Every once in awhile
something would be relevant. We used to get news clips
every day about Borat. And we would read it,
bill it like $1000 an hour reading Borat news clips. We used to get the
Kazakhstan foreign secretary was blaming the government of Kyrgyzstan for planting Borat in the media
to make Kazakhstan look bad. That was their like, they had a little, like a little, little conspiracy theory that the neighboring
stans were like making, had made up Borat to
make Kazakhstan look bad. We got like really goofy stuff like that but it was very interesting, fun deals. I think the most interesting. When you do emerging markets, like really trying to solve problems. It’s, it’s all of law has an element of kind of repetition and negotiating but not all of it has an element of trying to solve difficult problems. That was, that’s the kind of a theme. The whole thing I’ll
come back to in the talk. So, you know, a big, this is
not a big theme of my talk but a big thing that happened in my life which I’d be remiss not to mention in setting context is that in, 10 years ago this summer my
father died unexpectedly. He committed suicide the
night before Fathers’ Day and so that, it’s not, it’s
not a big kind of focus of the talk. I do, I have another talk
where I talk a lot about that. But really, I wanted to bring it to mind and mention it specifically. Really, first of all to
make a point in front of this audience that
you shouldn’t be afraid to talk about it, honestly. Like as just, one thing by itself. But also that you know, you
can and should use tragedy. You should look for greater things to come out of tragedy right? So whether it’s you know,
whether it’s you know, a, it’s kind of the classic
kind of re-analyzing life. You know if you lose a job
maybe you look and analyze it whether like you were meant
to be in that industry right? If you lose a parent maybe you need to, you look at how kind of,
how short time is right? If you lose a spouse or something, maybe you analyze kind
of different things. So you know that to me was a really, a catalyst for a lot of the new thinking that I went through. But I wanted to bring
it up, not to harp on it but really just to say like a lot of times there’s a temptation to push it aside and you really should let it, you really should let
it stretch your soul. There’s a book called,
“A Grace Disguised”. I don’t reference a lot
of books in this talk but there’s a book called
“A Grace Disguised” and one of the fundamental
points that the guy makes, who’s a Christian professor
who lost his wife, one of his daughters and his mom in the same car crash
is that if you let it, grief will stretch your soul. Will enable you to kind of,
it will stretch your soul. So I just, that’s kind of an important kind of marker in my journey. So at some point after
my father passing away, a year and a half later you
know I had been kind of, not really thrilled with law for awhile. So I decided to kind of, to take time off. I went and spent time
with my mom in Florida. And I started working
with Sovereign’s Capital and this will be another
point that I come to later. Which is that on my honeymoon, because I was pretty
flexible with my time, took a long honeymoon and we spent a little bit of time in Malaysia. I took a lunch with Luke Roush who Henry Kaestner is a
cofounder of Sovereign’s along with Luke. He was working in Malaysia. He drove a couple hours out of the city. We were at some little resort thing. And had lunch with him and so, out of just having that,
being willing to have that lunch on my honeymoon. Which is not necessarily
the right time to have lunch but the honeymoon was long. It was like three plus weeks
so it wasn’t that big a deal but out of that lunch came you know, I’ve been working with them for like four or five years now right? So you know that literally just came out of having that lunch. There’s really not really much of a way I would’ve connected with him otherwise. Sovereign’s Capital is a venture fund. We focus a lot on CEOs who
are motivated by their faith. So that’s pretty interesting. A couple deals that, probably the most interesting
deal that I look at, focus on for them is called Shot Tracker. It’s basically if we went
and played basketball, there would be a chip in the ball and we’d have maybe a,
something on our shoe or on our jersey where
we’d see the stats live. So you’d see all the stats live. Blocks, steals, live. It’s being used in I
think NAIA tournaments, Magic and David Stern are investors. It’s a really interesting deal. An amazing CEO who’s out of Kansas City. So that’s a fun deal. Not a, most of the deals
are not that sexy or fun but it’s basically kind
of software classic venture capital stuff. Like whatever, the next Uber, the next. Not so much consumer, more
like enterprise you know, stuff that Biola would buy to
kind of manage student fees. Stuff that a company would
buy to manage inventory. Things like that but it’s
still fun, still interesting. And as an offshoot of Sovereign’s Capital, I co-founded a couple years ago a group called Believers in Tech and the, the general idea is that churches are not really great at doing
industry specific meetups and people in tech are pretty unique. So it’s very you know, there’s Matt who I was sitting next to at dinner, MBA student, used to be a missionary. Is starting a tech company
focused on delivering goods to construction sites right? So if, I mean you’re an MBA
so you’re a little older but you know there’s a, like there’s no other industry
where 30-year-old people might go out and raise $2 million and hire 10 people right? It doesn’t happen right? And so if you’re a founder in tech you have some pretty
unique kind of concerns. And then of course the
tech industry by itself is pretty interesting. So we have a founder
investor group that we meet basically once a month for dinner and we have about 85 people on that list and all in Southern California. So that’s really an
incredible group of people and then we have kind of a
broader network that we do events about once a quarter. So that’s really been an
amazing opportunity to help out. Kind of basically to
grow Christians in tech, getting together and
L.A. and Orange Country are so disparate right? So many hundred, 150
kind of different towns. So something to be able
to connect them together. So Believer’s Tech is great and I do a couple other things. But basically you know, in
addition to Venture Partner and Sovereign’s I help a friend of mine. We look at buying virtual reality content. So we’re basically building a library of virtual reality content. So you know, pick your favorite movie, your favorite TV show. “Lord of the Rings” or something. We’ll go negotiate with the studio and try to do like a virtual reality “Lord of the Rings” experience, that, an experience whatever. We signed the first
seven-figure virtual reality film deal which was announced this, on Sundance a year ago. It’s an experience called “Spheres”. Like the spheres in the sky. Jessica Chastain is one of the narrators. It was featured on “The Today
Show” maybe three weeks ago. It’s really interesting and basically, really the kind of
summary of all of this is I’ve set up my life or
tried to set up my life to do really cool deals,
spend time with my wife and my daughter and to
go to a very good church called Vintage in Santa Monica right? So that’s kind of where I am now. And so I want to kind of now, go through and kind of give
a couple of observations. I have, I have nine but you know, in kind of practicing for these talks you’re never really sure
how the time would go right? So I had written down, I’m
at like double the time I thought I would be. So I’m taking longer to do my introduction but the point is. So let me just go through and start with some of the observations. And you know, and we’ll go from there. And I may kind of go
quicker on some of them and sit on some others. Okay and these observations,
I like stories. Right, they’re easy to tell, they’re hopefully even more important, easy to listen to and remember. All right, so first observation. Be loyal to yourself. Okay, so maybe three stories okay. So my friend, we’ll call him Brian. He works for a big, used
to work for a big company called GE right? And before the world of Google and Microsoft, GE was a very,
very impressive place right? He did, he has an undergrad
degree from a legitimate school but not Harvard. But legitimate school. He always said to GE, like I want, like pay for
me to get an executive MBA. I wanna get an MBA, no no. We have the best training in the world. We train you at GE,
you don’t need it okay. So all right, he pushed for like years. They never would pay for him
to get an executive MBA right? And I’m not you know, I’m
not saying they’re wrong. That’s not the point of this slide at all. Then he goes and puts a
very large down payment on an engagement ring
for his fiancee okay? He’s got his Blackberry. This guy kept a Blackberry forever, I don’t know why. He’s got a Blackberry, he’s walking back. GE’s a public company right? So you’re not gonna get kind
of private notice of things. This is a silly thing I did at the gym which I had to see the dermatologist for. So, not a fight just for the record. So he’s walking back from
putting a very large down payment on his engagement ring when
he looks at his Blackberry, oh my division of GE is being sold. My job will be gone within six months. Right, so now, now and trust me. The reason you get a business degree, I used to interview people for Wharton in Hong Kong and the
reason I would tell them you go to business school is you know, basically one is for the actual learning of the knowledge. Second is for the
connections and the third is something different for everyone. For me it was leadership. I ran a big charity. For somebody’s who’s
been a banker at Goldman it might be just two years
to just take a breath and figure out what they
wanna do in their life but the point is you go to business school not just for the knowledge. He may have been smarter than
all my classmates at Wharton, I don’t know right? But he didn’t spend two
years meeting 700 people in his classes at Wharton right? So now he’s out trying to get a job versus somebody at University of Chicago who’s got an MBA and it was
very difficult for him right? Now that doesn’t mean you
can’t network other ways, that’s not the point. Or that GE was even wrong for him but the point is like, do not
assume in the modern world that companies will be loyal to you right? My other friend in,
where I worked in London, I think I gotta make up names, we’ll see. But you know, the, when
I started work in 2001, I started work two weeks after 9/11. So the market had crashed,
there wasn’t a lot to do right? The first year, he was told you know, you’re not really doing that well. You know, your skills aren’t up to snuff and you know, we might have to maybe let you go eventually right? It’s all your fault. Not us, it’s all your fault right? He spoke French right? He had a degree from an Ivy League school. One of the smartest of
the people in our class. Probably smarter than me for sure. Then it, then we started getting a lot of pharmaceutical work from France. He’s sent to France. The next year, you’re doing really well. Like we really need you,
you’ve improved so much. No change, no change at all. Just they needed him, that was all, right. So the lesson I’m trying
to draw is just to like, be really, it’s horrible to say. Like this is why I say
be loyal to yourself rather than say look out for number one. I don’t wanna be like, crazy about it. And I’m not, you know, again. I’ll say this, I’ll try to say this once. Kind of you know, don’t take
the points too far right? Don’t take them too aggressively. But generally kind of pay
attention to your own path in work right? And so a couple of practical things. You know I think one is
to be known for something. So from the day you start. You know, spend a little
time and figure out. Like if you’re working
in an accounting firm in Southern California, are they doing like a a lot
of tech work in Irvine right? Do you wanna be known to be the guy or the lady who knows like
teach accounting in Irvine? Do you wanna be that person? Like write a few articles right? Then you start to be
known for something right and then people will reach you out, reach out to you okay and
your strength is much, you’re much stronger kind of in your own economic path. Number two, I would say like always, always make time for lunch right? So like, like if you stay within the path at Pricewaterhouse or whatever, it doesn’t really matter. But chances are you’re gonna leave and so when you leave you’re
gonna call those people you had lunch with. If you just, if you call them cold it’s actually very difficult. Not impossible, but very difficult. And the third thing and this is a, I try to throw in some
personal kind of errors I made. Is like basically
impressions matter right. So similar to my friend, you know I used to work, I used to work just as hard as everybody. It’s a law firm, it’s billable hours but I would spend, I would try to take like the last train on
Friday and go to Paris and come back like on the
first train on Monday morning and I made the great mistake at work of talking about it right? There are certain industries
where you don’t like, in New York it’s more obvious. You brag about how many hours you work. You don’t brag about like the
social life you have right? And if you sit outside of the norm, I worked the same hours as everybody else. It’s in the billables right? But it’s the, impressions matter right? And this is really speaking to people who will be like new in the workforce. And so, you know, basically just like, shut up, like and do work right? And it’s horrible. In some ways it’s horrible. Like oh I’m being repressed. But it does, it’s a real thing right. And so that year, so
that year I got a review. We don’t think you’re that
into it blah blah blah okay. So I stopped talking about it. I still went to Paris, I
still went to Budapest, I still went to Morocco, I
still went like to Sweden. I still did all this stuff but I stopped talking about it at work. The review next year,
you’ve really buckled down. You’re really serious about work. We see you’re doing great. Okay, all right. So you know, very practical, all right. Let’s see, don’t listen to your mother. All right, so I spoke with Eden Chen who’s a friend of mine, he speaks at Biola and he’s a friend of Biola too. A really great guy who’s one of like, Forbes 40 Under 40, changing
the world kind of guy. He said like try to give people maybe some templates, some examples as I go through these ideas. So when I did work, when I worked in law, like I wanted to enjoy
it, I wanted to learn and I wanted to be paid appropriately. Okay so when I walked from law I was, this was seven years ago. I was making almost $400,000 a year. And I decided I don’t
wanna do this anymore. I didn’t, I had the privilege
of going from a firm where it was, where I enjoyed it but I would’ve been like
the story of the frog with the slow boil where
you kind of gradually to going to a place which
was really difficult and that doesn’t mean they’re bad people but they just worked their tails off and I didn’t like it. So I had the privilege of
kind of being pushed out. I mean not being pushed out by the firm, but myself, like I didn’t like
it here, I wanted to leave and so the market. You know this is 2011,
the market was again down. My mom says you know things
are tough in America, are you sure you wanna leave? You have a great job. People were calling from
America all the time, how do I get work in Asia? Like I wanna work in Hong Kong, you’re the only people
who are hiring blah blah. You know my mom’s saying like are you sure you wanna do it right? And I’m not, and I talked
about this at dinner too. I’m not saying not to seek advice. Like I definitely think you
should seek advice right? But you should be aware that the more unusual your
decision is the more people will, the more you have to decide for yourself after seeking the advice
and praying of course. So in Hong Kong I prayed twice. And I’m, I’m a big believer
in fasting in praying but in saying that, admitting
that I don’t do it enough but I believe it can work and
it does work for many people. I prayed and fasted twice
and literally each time, I literally felt a push
at my back to leave law. But that’s not, that’s kind of a point that I think that can be used. But that’s not really the point. The more unusual thing you do, the more odd reaction you’ll
get from people right? So people who love you
right, they’ll love you and they want what’s best for you. They don’t understand the modern world like your parents compared to now right? They don’t understand the
modern world and job realities. Some people will be jealous
of you and it’s really, like if you wanna test your character, find your most successful friend and see if like when he fails or she fails if you inside rejoice
or if you like are sad and really want him to like, be like making a bazillion dollars right? It’s like a big, big character test right? So like, but people will
be funny about it right? And so the point of this is like listen. Ultimately these decisions
are for yourself, you have to live with them. Take advice but make the
decision yourself right. My mom, you know, my father and my mom. This is I think a point
I’ll talk about later. Like my dad was a firefighter, it was a big deal to
him that I was a lawyer and that I had like a professional degree that I would always be
able to have a job right? So walking away from
that, you don’t walk away from being a lawyer, you
can always go back to it but it was very, very risky to them. In a world where people are
losing their job all the time and the stores and the you know, the stores at the mall are closing and you know all this stuff right? Like you know, being a
lawyer is not the same as like working at the store in the mall but still it’s what you see and it’s what kind of fills you. So anyway, so that’s that point. Let’s see, all right. Ask twice, don’t trust
authority, all right. So I’m gonna shorten some of them up so I can try to get through all of them ’cause I think they’re all, they’re fun. From my perspective is fun to share. Hopefully from your perspective
it’s interesting to hear. Basically outside of the
gilded walls of Biola, people don’t care that much about you. Right, now again it’s not
like a moral judgment. Just people are busy with
their own stuff right? If somebody calls me and
wants to have like a lunch and I miss a lot of
emails or don’t respond. It’s not ’cause I’m lazy, it’s not ’cause I don’t wanna get back to them. It’s because like my
daughter’s more of a priority, I’m busy like and I don’t
mind if they chase me again. Like it’s great for them
to chase me again right? Like if I don’t wanna talk to
them I will say like I’m busy, like reach out in a month. Sometimes I just miss it. Like I’m gonna be, I’m gonna
be in Vietnam next week with my brother in law. Like I may just miss a week of emails and I may skim them and
look for important ones and then just miss them right? And busy people again, like they’re just busy
with their own stuff right? So don’t be afraid to ask twice and that goes from
everything as simple as like when you don’t have much
money and you graduate and you go buy a laundry machine and you like, if you follow Dave Ramsey like ask for the dented laundry machine, ask twice for the discount,
something as simple as that. But especially with bigger stuff. So the one story about this, is did I say the story
about my mom at dinner? I didn’t right, okay. My mum had sleep apnea surgery and they put the intubation tube down the wrong tube, they
put it down the esophagus, not the trachea. And they tore it, okay they tore it. And that accident has
a 30% chance of death okay and there’s not a lot
of things you can mess up in today’s world where you have like a 30% chance to die okay. So basically our, you
know, body cavity right and you got water dripping in. Not good, okay. So she was in the hospital in Florida. They got a big sign on the door. That says like you know, nothing by mouth. No water, no okay. So okay. I won’t embarrass anybody
but if you have a sign that says nothing by mouth can you put ice in their mouth, yes or no? No, okay. You put ice, the nurse
puts ice in my mom’s mouth for like a day and a half. So water, which is water. Ice becomes water right? For those of you who are
coming over from the, you know, from the other school. Not from the business school but from the science school
right, it becomes water. So now my mom has a huge
abscess in her chest has to have an extra, has to go to Miami, has to have an extra surgery. She lived, the doctor said
and in the medical context it’s very clear, if you go
in for something serious you really should have like
a patient advocate right? That’s why they say it. But that’s a life and death example. Obviously not everything
is life and death. But the point is, like that’s
the point I’m trying to make. Not like run around and like you know, yell at the firemen or the
city councilmen or whatever but like you know, people
are in their own heads right? And as the world is more
distracted and more busy, on the phone, like just,
like ask twice right? Like if something important,
don’t just trust it. That’s the story for that one. Okay, be intentional
about your faith growth. Okay this is a fun one. ‘Cause somebody’s here studying ethics or ethics of accounting right. Your first name again? Daniel, okay. So some good news and some
bad news about ethics. Okay the good news, in 10
years of practicing law and we did corporate law. You know, we didn’t do like the really difficult criminal law stuff. I never, I never felt I had
a serious ethical dilemma, not really. I did the IPO at William Hill which is a big gambling company and gambling is a complicated
topic and gambling’s legal. It is kind of like,
should you as a Christian work on a cannabis deal
now that it’s legalized in California right? For some people it could be difficult. For other people could
say, well it’s medically, it’s allowed legally. And it’s medically, a lot of people use it for medicine right? So you know, but I did a
gambling deal in London. That was kind of, wasn’t a struggle for me but I could see how
that could be a struggle for a lot of people. Surely legal deal,
William Hill, bookmaker. And we did have a deal in Russia where we do an IPO of
a grocery store company and we said, how do
you get all this space? Russia’s booming, how do you get space? We’ve heard that to get land
you have to bribe people in Russia, like how do you do it right? And he said, well, no no. We don’t, we don’t, no
no we don’t do that. Well how do you get the space? No no, we just hire an
agent, he takes care of it. Right, well if you kind
of read between the lines you’re like wait a second. How does the agent do it right? So you’ve gotta kind
of, it’s a life lesson to ask, kind of understand
how to ask questions. And what’s not being said too. But in general, I don’t think
in the highly evolved state of California, you will have
a major ethical decision. You may not have a major ethical decision for your whole life. You may and I did work, I did charity work in investing in Cambodia and Rwanda right. So I’ve seen some stuff in Cambodia but if you live in the
evolved state of California I would bet you, you may never
have a true ethical decision in the non-Christian sense of right. That’s the good news okay. The bad news is I think
the ethical decisions you will have to make will
be much, much more difficult. The ethical decisions
you will have to make is what does it mean to be a Christian in the midst of a non-Christian world. What does it mean to be in the world but not of the world right? So what do you do on a Sunday
when you’re trying to like, do a design sprint at your company and they want you to work on a Sunday? Like how do you handle that right? And I’m not, again I’m not,
this is not telling you don’t work on a Sunday. This is telling you understand what, otherwise is gonna hit
you in the face right? That’s the point right. Understand it, now I’m not telling you to work on Sunday or not but understand what you’re gonna have to face right. What does it mean, you know, what kind of hours are
you gonna have to work. Like what you know, how
important is holiday to you and your family right? How important is money right? Like okay go and do this other job but now I gotta be driving
from downtown L.A. to Irvine like every day right? That means I’m, that could be literally an extra day of work a week right? So like how are you gonna
make you know, basically yeah. How are you gonna make
those ethical decisions. That society will tell you either, either go against kind of your instinct or will tell you there’s nothing wrong. Right, those are to me, those are to me, those are much, much
more difficult decisions. How are you gonna figure it out? I will say that I think it is much easier to be clear from the beginning
where you stand right. So when I worked in law
we worked our butts off. I worked at a big firm, Skadden, Arps, they’re a top five law firm in the world. Worked our tails off right? You know who did not work on Saturdays is the Jewish guys who said
I don’t work on Saturdays. Right, the guys who did work, the guys who did not get away with it, it wasn’t ’cause they weren’t Jewish it was because they like, well this Saturday I got a date and next Saturday I don’t have a date. That doesn’t really flow when people are working their tails off. The only way you get away with that and that’s not the right word. It is respected if you say that this is kind of my requirement. I’m not saying it’s respected
everywhere but like, when I started working
really hard at Skadden I for me, on Sunday I would just tell them like I wasn’t available till like one and I went to like, I got
to sleep in a little bit. I went to church, I don’t remember. 12 or one, but basically
I at least gave my, for me it was like Sunday
morning was my Sabbath if I was on a deal. That was that hot and heavy right? And when you’re in a
situation where they see, they see that they
respect like the Sabbath for some people. If you said like I’m never
gonna work Saturday night to Sunday night they would
probably respect you too but you can’t waver right? And you can’t make it up
because you got annoyed that you canceled a date right? So I think you know, but figuring out like those kind of ethical
decisions are really hard. And I think, yeah. So I think that’s the bad news. For me in Hong Kong I had a group called Men’s Fraternity, it was based on a book, raising a modern day. No no, Men’s Fraternity, Robert Lewis out of Arkansas who wrote a few books. One was called, “Raising
a Modern-Day Knight”. We had a three-semester
course and we went through it very intentional with guys. And so for me what was very
important for my faith walk was to be very specifically in a group. Not just like a general care group but like 20 people who talked about things which is good but like
really with a group of people where you could like, this
is what I’m struggling with and that was, intentionally being in that group was the big kind of decider
for me in my faith growth. Yeah, and that’s, and I you know, I would be remiss not to mention right. Like, like online purity. Whether it’s men or women right? Like the world will tell
you that’s also okay right? But again, how are you
gonna deal with that in kind of your own private ethics? Let’s see, true integrity is
phenomenally hard to find. Okay, what I mean here is
that in my whole working life, not being that old I’ve
probably met less than 10 people who, like their mind, body, soul, spirit, just everything lines up. And they love what they do. I probably would say there’s
probably 10 people in my life, less than 10 that I’ve
met that are like that. That might be like really
too hard of a grader but I legitimately think that right. And so, what do you do. So if you are that person
where God speaks to you and if you have a magical class at Biola where it says like this is how to tell what God wants you to do. That’s great, like that is awesome. If you come out of that class, there’s a famous Stanford class
called, “Design Your Life” and a book that the guys wrote. One of the co-professors is a Christian. If you come out with that,
that’s amazing right? Statistically, most of you won’t right? And so my challenge is, what
do you do with the tension? Okay, so do you throw your hands up and say now I’m gonna go be a yoga instructor in Thailand okay? Or do you put your head
down and say I don’t know if this is what I wanna
do but I’m just gonna work that much harder and make partner and then it’ll all figure out right. Or do you like, are you
okay with the tension right? Like you know, I don’t know if I wanna be a you know, Anderson’s gone or whatever. But I don’t wanna be, I
don’t know if I wanna be at this accounting firm. I don’t know if I wanna be
at this bank, I don’t know. Like I like it but you know, will you, can you go through
that journey with tension and kind of really seek God
in the midst of that right? And you know that like, it’s hard. Like this kind of, does God set every little step out for you? I don’t know right? But sometimes maybe
God’s not that interested in your work for a year right? Maybe he wants you to
work on something else or maybe he’s teaching you something that no matter which job you choose you’re gonna have to learn that anyways. Maybe he’s teaching you
to deal with a bad boss or to respect authority
and so you could choose job A, B and C and no
matter which job you get, like congratulations
your boss is gonna suck ’cause you’re gonna learn
the same lesson right? But you know my point is,
really to encourage you not to just throw your
hands up and just go crazy. To live with the tension right? ‘Cause most people, it’s
a big challenge in life. Let’s see, and for me ’cause you know I do a few advisory works. Like I have that tension too right? I have a temptation, just hanging out with my wife and kid like,
and I’m not sure kind of. I do stuff with Sovereign’s,
I do stuff with VR. I have the same tension
and so I try to work. I try to you know, pursue each path and kind of see how the doors open. You know, I try to do both. I have the same tension. Let’s see, all right. We okay for time for a little bit? Okay, all right, all right. Work on the person you
wanna be tomorrow, today. All right, so I’ll give you, this is my. If I could change one thing in my life it would be to work on who I wanted to be as a husband before I got married. Okay, so and that applies for work. Like being a partner right? Like it’s not like, you know, I use partner generically right for promotion whatever right? You’re not gonna magically get promoted and all of the world’s gonna change right? Like you have to act. I mean it’s again, this
is like, real politic. This is not like you know,
watching “Silicon Valley” or something but you know, even though that is
strikingly the real world. But mostly you’re not
gonna go start a company and make a billion dollar company and if you do that, you could
wear kind of tennis shoes and whatever you want. So most people kind of
work more traditional jobs and even as Google grows, people actually have to wear shoes and
things like that right? So the, so you know,
kind of putting yourself in the position you wanna be at tomorrow and in a personal level, like I knew I had to work on anger with
my, before I got married. I knew it and I didn’t do it. So as result I caused a
lot of pain to my wife and it was, it’s the one thing
I would change in my life if I could change anything. Would work on who I wanna be as a husband before I got married, not after. That’s that point. All right, don’t look
in the rearview mirror. Okay so the, there’s a couple
ways I could go with this, but the point is, I have a great life that
I love but even in that, even in the great life I love, I could still be playing
the what if game right? So I went to the L.A. airport once. Pick up, my wife and I were flying in or I was picking her up, I don’t remember and there’s this guy about my height. Like hiding, he’s shadowing me. You know I go here and he’d
like be behind me right and I’d go over here
and he’d be behind me. I’m like what is going on? And I like figured out
and it’s A-Rod all right. Alex Rodriguez right,
one of the most famous baseball players in the world. So he went, in Miami I mentioned, this is the placeholder about sports. He played baseball in Miami
where I played baseball but I missed him for a year. I left Miami a year before he went. Westminster Christian,
baseball powerhouse. So I would’ve played with
A-Rod and we’re the same, you know I’m 6’3, I
was 6’3, I was 6’3, 220 like 6’3, 215 in 8th grade. Right, so I’m 6’3 like 225 now okay. So, so I would’ve been playing
baseball with A-Rod right and I could be upset with
my dad and there’s other, I could be upset about
a lot of stuff right? But I have a great life
and I love it right? And so, yeah. Would it be interesting to have a $300 million contract, probably. You know he’s married to J-Lo but like, it’s not neither of them
have like the kind of experts in relationships if you look at their history you know? And I got a Brazilian wife too. I mean, I got a Hispanic wife too. She’s Mexican-Brazilian,
she’s beautiful you know. So I got that without like, but you know, not on the fourth try. So you know, like but you could, all of you will have stuff
like 10 years from now, you’re like man I could’ve taken that job. I could’ve gone here right? And just like don’t look
in the rearview mirror. I knew the talk would go over so I wanted to have funny clips like this would’ve been
some kind of silly accident but the point is like don’t
look in the rearview mirror. All right, final two points. Yeah, okay. Choose enough, or don’t. But decide okay. So when I got to London I wanted to be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. That was my ultimate goal. Be a lawyer, go on to be CEO
of a Fortune 500 company. When I realized, I have
yet to meet a truly, truly successful person in life. Like in the world sense of, in
the world’s sense of success that has not had to make
significant sacrifice. Like really significant sacrifice. Time away from family,
kind of messed up kid, you know, divorce. Like something like pretty significant. I have yet to meet that person. They may exist but I
have not met them right? So I made a decision to get off that path. It was a very difficult decision but I made the decision to kind of, in essence to create my own path. Which most of you will
probably be forced to do by the reality of kind of
the current economy right? But I, maybe get ahead of it right. Maybe start thinking of it rather than kind of your
path being forced on you. The saddest thing to me was not the person who worked their tail
off, didn’t see their kids for like two years ’cause
they worked so hard from senior associate to be partner. And made partner, although there’s a joke about making partner in a law firm which is that making
partner is like winning a pie eating contest for
which the prize is more pie. Right, so you really have
to love what the heck you do ’cause you just get
more of it in your face. The saddest thing was
there were so many people who really sacrificed themselves
for two or three years and worked their tails
off and didn’t make it. Right, ’cause there’s no guarantee. Not in modern society right? And also, people tried to make it and the market fell out right? So three years before or three years after they would’ve made it. Just luck or providence. I mean whatever word you wanna use right? But just bad luck. So that was the saddest thing to me. This guy had just missed seeing his kids for like three years. I mean not all the time
but missed a lot of time with the kids for three years
and didn’t even make partner. And then when he sat
back and looked at it, it turns out he probably
didn’t even wanna be partner ’cause if he wanted to be partner, I worked at very big firms. You could just go be
partner at another firm but a lot of those people just left law. So if you work really hard
and don’t make partner and leave law that means you
didn’t wanna be a lawyer. Like that means you
didn’t wanna make partner ’cause you could do it
at another, smaller firm. It means like you did it
because that’s what you thought you did right? And so you sacrifice a lot. And so you know, for me, like I, this goes back to the point of the talk. I chose the mountain I
wanted to climb right? And for me, it’s doing interesting deals. Like I still work right? I don’t wanna give you the
impression I don’t work. Like I, or don’t work hard. You know I was working
last week till like 5 a.m.. I don’t do that all the time,
but on a specific project I will have to go and you know, check maybe an hour or two of work when I go home tonight. I live in Santa Monica. I still do work but I don’t, I don’t live for the work right? To the extent I can, I make it
kind of fit into the schedule that I wanna have right? And so I, like I wake
up, I’m with my daughter in the morning for a couple of hours. I’m with my daughter for a couple hours in the afternoon before bath time right? And that’s like, that’s
super difficult to see. And then you know, I may
have to do some work at night if I have to, I usually don’t. But sometimes I have to. So you know, so this is, so this is yeah. So that’s Serafina, a
derivative of Seraphim, the word, that’s where got the name and she’s 10 months old. And so, yeah I get to see you know. I get to spend two hours,
she’s got an amazing smile and yeah, I mean the goal
is that she has my eyes but nothing else ’cause my
wife’s much prettier than me so she has my eyes but yeah. So you know I get to spend
a lot of time with her. I get to do cool work right? And that was the path that
I chose and developed. Rather than, I have a
house in Santa Monica with an ocean view, I
get to see my daughter, I get to do cool work, I
go to a good church right? Could I have a bigger house, yes. Could I do more work, I mean yes. But like what, you know
there’s a famous study that says like after about $85,000 a year people are not happier. If you update the study for
now and you add in California, maybe it’s 130, 150 right? But there is a very specific study that says after a certain point your happiness actually
equals out, evens out okay. And then let’s see. So this is, I’ll end with one more point. But this is again, the biggest point. Like think for yourself. Like what do you wanna do? What mountain do you wanna be climbing? Okay and the last point. Failure makes you interesting. Okay, don’t be afraid to invest, to live your life as if money isn’t the most important
thing, to know you will be okay if you fail okay? So when I applied to Wharton, number one business school in the world, certainly when I was there. You know who was not in short supply? Was bankers from Morgan Stanley okay. You know who was in short supply? Interesting people, there’s nothing wrong with a banker at Morgan Stanley right? But interesting people, they were looking for
interesting people right? And the more elite you
get, like if you ever read about how to get into Harvard, like they want some kid who went to Africa and started five charities
in between like learning like you know, in between
going to South Africa and all this crazy in
between going to Brazil. Like the more elite, the more interesting
people they want right? The most successful friend
that I’m in touch with from business school runs a company, probably worth a billion dollars. It’s got $250 million of
revenue, he was a gardener. So he ran a big garden right? Like the equivalent of Huntington Gardens or whatever that’s called but
up near Northern California. He was a gardener. So in my learning team at business school, guy at Bane, you know
lady who worked at Murk, somebody from Asia, blah blah. This guy’s a gardener,
it’s like what the heck? Am in business school? It actually made you think that Wharton wasn’t that impressive ’cause I was like, would this guy get into
Harvard, seriously. He’s the most successful
of all of us right? Because he’s an interesting guy. I mean it’s not, and he’s
smart, don’t get me wrong. He went to work at McKinsey but like he’s smart but
he’s interesting right? And in a world that is
constantly thinking, seeking authenticity and community and you wouldn’t, you know, I don’t even know technically, Millennial’s the word,
I don’t know technically what generation you are. But you’re younger than me right? So you know, it’s even
more so as you get younger. People think, seek authenticity right and if you do something and you fail, you learn, you become a
more interesting person. You’re the person at the dinner party that they wanna talk to. Right, and that gets you connections and that gets you in the
door and blah blah blah, you become a, it is great
to be an interesting person. I am not saying be an idiot but I am saying be an
interesting person right? Not a lunatic, they are different right? So, just as an example, so you know, they did a study on men
with, I think it was men. With scars right? You’d think you have the perfect face, Brad Pitt or whoever’s
the perfect guy face guy. Ryan Reynolds and but if you have a scar, you’re found more attractive
to the opposite sex, at least men. Why, ’cause you survived something. That’s why, that’s what the
researchers hypothesized. But you’re literally found
to be more attractive right? For myself, just one example. So I mentored, I mentored
a guy Seth, came out of, he was a formerly incarcerated guy through a program called Defy and I was a chairman of a snackbar company called Prison Bars right? And so he was a pro basketball
player for like 10 years and went to jail for five years. And I mentored him through this program and I was chairman of
this snackbar company called Prison Bars and
Grant’s met him right? Did you meet Seth? Some of the stories
from that are you know, first of all it lends me legitimacy ’cause I have a heart for social impact and doing stuff in the inner city right? But you know, I’m work in venture capital. You know like tall white guy. Like you show up in the inner city, people are like, they want authenticity, they want legitimacy right. So it lends legitimacy,
like look I was chairman of this company for a
couple of years right? Like I’ve been like
literally hand to hand, rolling making, when we were
making Prison Bars at home. You know with somebody that
was convicted of murder right? In my friend’s home right? So, you know and that
company failed right? And we changed the name Inside Out, he’s still doing it on the side but in essence, I hope
it comes back to life but in essence it failed right? But you learn a lot. You learn about what’s interesting to you. You learn, you know, you make
connections, you learn a lot. So anyways, so that’s my final point. I have, you’ve kindly stayed
’cause I’ve gone over, I apologize for that. And thank you very much for listening.>>Narrator: Discover
who you’re called to be at Biola University, a leading
Christ-centered university in Los Angeles. With programs on campus and online. Subscribe for more of our videos and learn more at biola.edu.

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