It’s no secret that I’ve been a fan of Joshua Kennon’s Blog for the last few years, especially after reading all 760+ articles - many more than once. Recently, my girlfriend Frankie (yes, she really is a Slytherin) and I took a week-long vacation trip to LA. While most activities scheduled were in the top LA tourist areas, one was not. On Thursday of that week, we ventured down to Newport Beach to meet Joshua Kennon and his husband Aaron in person!!!!
Before diving into how the hangout session went, I wanted to talk about a career event!
A Quick Aside on One of My Biggest Career Lessons
It was in my fourth rotation, the last one of my two-year program at GE Healthcare, where I was assigned to help with development on an internal application called PPO. With Predix ramping up across the organization, the team wanted the app re-developed within the new platform.
Asking For What You Want
It was the first week of the new rotation, and I learned that a two-week app-studio was happening in Detroit where they were kicking off the new app development. Seeing I wasn’t yet on the team when everything was originally scheduled, I wasn’t on the team roster.
I remember vividly meeting with Joe, one of the leaders of the team that rotation and quietly asking him about the app-studio.
“I’ll be working on PPO and helping with the development, and heard there was an app-studio happening to kick it off. Do you think this is something I should be going to?”
Without missing a beat, he responded with something along the lines of: “Do you want to go and do you think you should for a successful rotation?”
I quickly let him know that I would like to go and felt it made sense to.
He responded cheerfully: “If you want to take on challenges in your career, capture opportunities, and be successful throughout your story - you have to ask for those opportunities. Leaders like my want to help you capture them, but we don’t always know when you want them. Help us help you”
One of Charlie Munger’s favorite quotes: “To get what you want, you must deserve it” is imperative when trying to get new opportunities in your life. It doesn’t have to be said, but I will say it anyway - we don’t always get what we want :).”
It goes to show why Joe continued to be a mentor throughout my time in Milwaukee because 3-4 hours later I was booking my travel to Detroit for the app-studio (s/o to Andrew and Brian for the support)!
You Are the Sum of Your Decisions
Just like deciding to join Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity led me to a weeklong leadership institute sponsored by GE, which turned into an interview for their Information Technology Leadership Program, the moment described above actually has taken me to the place I am today!
It was through that app-studio I was able to learn quickly and become better integrated with the team that rotation. Thanks to this, with the help of people on the team, I was asked to join the Software Team off-program that was spinning up! It was that particular moment with Joe in room A241 that helped me become a Software Engineer - a dream that was part of my life since 8th grade!
You just never know what can happen when you ask - and like Joe told me that day - the worst thing that can happen? You get told no…then you go right back to what you were doing anyway - no harm was done!
Meeting Joshua Kennon
Since that learned lesson, I’ve tried my best to keep the philosophy in mind when asking for growth opportunities or potential changes in processes that could affect how we work. It has helped my confidence in that area, and man am I grateful to Joe for demonstrating its utility!
Sending Over an E-mail
Because of this lesson that I mustered up the courage to reach out via contact form and comments to Mr. Kennon, hoping that we could find time during our LA trip to meet up.
It only took about a week for him to get back to me, but even still I checked my e-mail constantly - even my junk folder - to see if he would respond.
Once he responded - I ecstatically called Frankie to let her know of the plan!!!!
She knew I was excited because this would be like meeting your favorite celebrity for coffee
Arriving Early & Dealing with Nerves
Thursday had finally arrived!
Making the drive from LA down to Newport Beach could take 1 hour or 3 depending on the traffic that day. We were leaving before rush hour but I was certainly nervous about being late - not to mention it was a workday for them - and we only had the time that they offered to us. Frankie wasn’t fond of waking up early on our vacation, but I refused to be late.
Plus, for anyone who has worked for Susan, we all know how important being on-time is so we didn’t get the - “you’re four minutes late, where have you been” once you finally joined the Skype call lol. Typically this only happens once :).
Of course, I’m still being made fun of it to this day because we arrived an hour early. Newport Center was amazing and a legendary See’s Candy shop was there (go Berkshire!!). We learned why Charlie Munger crunches so much peanut brittle during the annual meetings - it is delicious!
Finally, the time was upon us to head over to Starbucks and find a table.
Conversing with Josh and Aaron
After a quick intro meeting them halfway as the two of them strolled towards Starbucks, we quickly ordered our drinks (they pre-ordered theirs), the moment had arrived!
I had a list of questions to ask in my head and felt like we probably wouldn’t get through all of them. These were two brilliant guys who run an asset firm, there’s no way we have more than an hour right?
WRONG! There was no rush!
All of us shared our stories and how we got where we were today. They shared stories about their family life growing up, living in NYC for a few years, working for a music firm, starting their own business, and singing in top-notch music circles.
Frankie and I talked about growing up in VA, city and country life respectively. We discussed wealth building and living in Newport. Aaron and Josh didn’t rush us away as we all sat there with empty coffee cups for two of the three hours hanging out.
We all had a blast!!
Unfortunately, detailing out the full conversation would be a very long article for you all. Fortunately, I decided to summarize it instead!
- Everyone has their own story and way of becoming financially independent
As asset managers, it was really interesting to hear the different types of clients they had. From real estate investors to business owners, high-earner careers, or just long-time workers who made good decisions with their finances - each had their way of filling their coffers as the years passed.
I love this about the opportunities within the U.S - people can truly find ways to make a living with their passions.
- Defense Mechanisms are huge motivators (for myself and Josh/Aaron)
We all have internal motivators that trigger us into action. These can come from traumatic experiences growing up or living through tough times in adulthood (Charlie Munger comes to mind). These moments change how we view the world and define how we plan on preventing them from happening in the future.
- The three questions one should ponder on regularly
As we get into our daily habits, commuting and going to work. One must take time to just think - and Josh gave us a few questions that they ask themselves regularly to make sure their current path is the right one.
- If I was doing the same things today in 15 years, would I be happy?
- If I fast forward 15 years and look back, what would I change?
- If I was 15 years in my ideal future, what intelligent thing could I do today to make that happen?
Note: These are from memory and subject to change if I misremembered them.
- Meeting New People and Giving Them Your Time is Awesome!!!
Giving back to the world, whether with your time or your knowledge (or both) is an under-appreciated activity in my humble opinion. I’m SO THANKFUL that not only did we have the opportunity to meet these two incredible gentlemen, but thanks to both of them all of the readers can enjoy the lessons taught whenever they want!
LA and Southern California was a beautiful place to vacation - we enjoyed the week from the busy life in the big apple.
As our flight landed back in NYC, we couldn’t help but both look at each other as we went by all of the skyscrapers (any of the 200+ in NYC), and remember why we love it here so much too!
It was nice to be home :).