Sunday afternoons free from cfo thoughts

So me and my gal Danielle are enjoying a brief interlude on a Sunday afternoon sans dependents at Mr and Mrs G’s.

It’s attached to our favourite restaurant, a haven of happy memories and today we drink cocktails and listen to gypsy jazz.

I feel like I am sitting in a scene from Chocolat….one of my favourite movies of all time

The music is fab…and the cocktails and simple platter plate superb as well

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I’m also thinking of Miss Caitlin 800kms south, in Newcastle, in final preparations for her lead role as Christine in Phantom of the Opera. It’s one of four productions nationally to celebrate 25 years since the launch of this sensational musical.

Caitlin has dreamt of a musical theatre career since, well, it seems she could talk, dance and sing.

Her mum has taped a couple of rehearsals with the orchestra, and come early September we will get the chance to see it live. At the most magnificent historical theatre, the Civic Theatre in Newcastle.

I have listened to the iPhone recordings of her singing “wishing you were here” and “phantom of the opera”. I then listened to the movie soundtrack of the phantom song and the original cast version.

I do say without bias that I won’t be surprised if the world knows a little more of Caitlin after these performances. She is simply spectacular.

I do think my little girl has a chance to realize her lifelong dream. I hope she does. Not many get a chance to do so.

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And just to conclude I’m not thinking much of the week ahead, which will be full of cfo type stuff. It’s been a sensational weekend of little man Louie and my gal Danielle

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Not so random thoughts…I think of this everyday

I see I haven’t blogged for a while, more than a month. I tried a few times but realised there are limitations of using handheld devices, sitting on buses, taking phone calls etc, and losing much content by not saving my vitally important and life changing words 🙂 So I got a little frustrated.

Things have been hectic of late. My Virtual CFO colleagues and I have hit a vein of activity and engagements, and with relationship and family desires of connection (I almost used the word commitment but it seems like such a shallow word when it comes to “relationships” and “family”), finding the time to self indulge in my blog has become a little hard.

I woke up this morning though, being back in Sydney away from DC and our little man Louie, and DC had sent this to me by text. I read it and started crying. In fact I am starting again now. Sobbing more like it. I know I should be a hard nosed CFO, you know be able to stand up to the rigours of the commercial world, but some things are more important than commerce aren’t they.

My beloved DC sent me this:

http://twopointfivekids.blogspot.com.au/2013/07/get-out-tissues-and-hug-your-children.html?m=1

….and as a flow on effect I sent the following to the mother of my two beautiful daughters…

“This is why, at the end of the day, despite all the anger, disappointment and sadness for stupid actions, why if you love someone, I mean really love them, like I love you and our beautiful girls, why as hard as it is we all have to move on with a warmth in our hearts as one day it can just be snatched from us

 …and what then. What is it that we will think of and regret. Will all the anger and loss have been worth it.”

This has got nothing to do with CFO’ing, I know.

For normal people, us commoners, those of us who haven’t sat in big corporates with big fat salaries and bonuses, but have had a crack at targeting business opportunities that bring passion if not always financial reward. The kind of rewards in the shape of million dollar bonuses that help overcome unwise financial decisions, and to the point a breakdown of a long marriage can have some pretty significant financial consequences, and there are often legacy issues that need to be managed. 

Yesterday I spoke with some guy who means nothing to me, and I mean nothing to him, other than we cross paths by reason of the commerce of life’s journey, and I said this to him, or words to the effect:

“Mate, it would mean nothing for me to walk away from this and go to my little boy and his mum and live a peaceful existence and be happy. I don’t need this aggravation and if I have learn’t anything what matters is how things impact on my health and happiness, and the health and happiness of those around me that I care about. NOTHING ELSE MATTERS.”

He muttered something in some pathetic way thinking he knew me and what makes me tick, what drives me to do the things I do…and of great surprise to him he realised he was talking with someone who maybe had worked out what was important and not so important in life. He would have got a completely different response just a few years ago, and may have got what he was after. More negotiations at hand on this. I may yet lose the war but the battle was “stimulating” yesterday.

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I love what I do, I immensely thrive and enjoy my interaction with my colleagues and my clients, but as they have said in the classics, when your time has come, and you hope that when it does you are surrounded by love and nothing less, it is truly the case that the impact and influence you have had in your personal relationships, with those that you truly love, that is all that will matter.

Anyway, I will push on as I have school fees to pay, and that is important to my Miss 15. It’s not the only reason for pushing on. I would never tip off the edge completely with the thought that living like a hippy on a beach island is actually realistic, but when one gets a wake up call (or text) like this morning about the fragile nature of life, and it makes you think of love and those you love, sometimes being a hippy philosopher living on an island looks bloody attractive.

Side note: I often think that my own life’s journey makes me the SME financial adviser I am today. Maybe lots of things do happen for a reason. What I love about my choice of occupation now is less about the “technical”, and certainly nothing to do about the money, or prospect of it, what is stimulating is overlaying “life” with the commerce. Anyway, maybe the bones of content for another “musingsofaCFO”

 

Artists, Hemingway and Tattoos…

I wake up everyday now thinking I am a writer…I was on a bus tonight and I thought, this must be how Hemingway felt…well hopefully I am not as tormented, and I am far from a writer with talen. But I do like the thought of putting my thoughts to maybe nobody but myself….but I see there are a few people following me, and for that I am grateful, and not at all full of ego, for I am a talentless hack…I think that is the phrase 😉
 
I got into this caper for I have watched my gal do her blog thing, and then I needed to get a post onto LinkedIn for my CFO/Corporate Advisory activities and word limits forced me to the blogosphere. I will probably keep repeating this as some justification for existence on here this blog, and rarely touch on anything CFOish.
 
So if you are here to hear some profound words of commerce and experience, sorry to disappoint, but you can always contact the firm and request a meeting 😉
 
I was rushing to a meeting today, conveniently at Manly and catching up with a friend who I am sure has seen it all, commerce and life, and its a joy to spend time with him.
 
I saw a side of Manly today that I havent really seen before. Probably because my friend is a passionate manlyite (“I dont live in Sydney Ant, I live in Manly”). We have decided we are committed to going in search of the perfect burger, and perfecting “the Bruce”, which is a drink of magnificence around tequila and ginger beer. My friends name is Bruce and yes he tells me he created it.
 
For the record our burger today got ratings between 5 something and Bruce gave a 6.75. I thought him generous and a little liberal.
 
Excuse me, I am pausing to listen to “Born of the Bayou” by CCR. My god what a band. I digress…
 
Anyway, back to my writing intent. I was rushing down to Circular Quay, and thinking the fast ferry to Manly, as I was already latish and Bruce is a busy man.
 
I turned right to get my fast ferry ticket, and stopped for a moment. There was an artist with crayons and large sheets and he was working on two. The first was a 3D drawing, although I didnt look at it through either the lense provided, or probably the right angle. It caught my attention for its cleverness and it made me think of my little man Louie. It was a tall ship, sails, and a little boy taking out a section of the frame with water escaping the gap. I thought it clever.
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The second drawing was more thought provoking. It was of an angel, a guardian angel, and beneath her two small children, a sister protecting her little brother. Her arm around his shoulders. I was drawn to this drawing. My next tattoo (yes, probably very unCFOish) I have thought for months now will be a depiction of a guardian angel looking over the names of my children which are inked on my left bicep. My ink maestro has designed the image, and I am so looking forward to his work. I havent seen the design yet, but David is amazing and getting inked for me is as much about his genius as my desire to look like I have come from the set of Sons of Anarchy.
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I loved this drawing and while in my mad rush, it gave me pause to stop and enjoy this moment. I like to think I rush less now. There was a sign by the artist and part of it said “please stop and ask me questions” or something like that. So I struck up a conversation with Guiseppe. He is from Italy. I told him how his drawing resonated for me, and I spoke to him about my girls, my little man, my gal Danielle and one of my best friends Rob, who happens to be now living in Italy.
 
Louie of course is named with reference to a part of his heritage, as Danielle is half Italian, on her fathers side. Rob is in love with Italy and one of my happiest thoughts is the thought of seeing him in this place he loves. I hope it happens soon.
 
Anyway, I struck up a conversation with Guiseppe, and didnt give a moments thought to Bruce. I wanted to enjoy this experience. Guiseppe draws to fund his lifestyle in Oz, but only the donations he receives. When he finishes a drawing he donates the drawing to a charity, and they auction it, and retain the proceeds. He loves to draw. Writing this I weep again. He sits or crouches in one of the most magnificent locations on earth, at least by a city’s standard, and he does something he loves, to help the unknown to him hopefully live a better life. 
 
This drawing grabbed me, and I asked him if he wouldnt mind if I took a photo. I made it clear I would’nt take his design for my tatt, as it was his creation, but he said he didn’t mind one bit. His drawings were for whomever.
 
It dawned on me that what I was looking at was, what I wanted for my children. I wanted them to protect each other, to have their arms around each other, and I wanted to believe in something greater looking over them. My children don’t look over each other, the circumstances of life, and I am not sure there is any greater being looking over them.
 
So I went off to meet with Bruce and I realised that if I knew where I was going, I would have turned left and not right, and I would never have met Guiseppe. I dont think I will ever forget Guiseppe, and as I walked away I said to him “Thank you Guiseppe, I hope to meet you again one day”
 
What has this got to do with CFOing…absolutely nothing, but I am a CFO and these are my musings
 
“Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income” Ecclesiastes 5:10
 
 

If money were no object…

 I’m stealing this blog title from, well, the person who has got me into this blog caper. Well, two people have got me into this blog caper, my gal Danielle who is a blogging master, and a colleague who is a friend who is a writer, who finally signed me up in a moment of weakness.

Well, it was not so much as a moment of weakness, but me having the perceived need to get a message out to the masses, as my word is important (*smirks*), and LinkedIn only has 700 characters. I always need more characters than that as I am a chronic gibberer.

I did get injured on the board this morning, I got so enthusiastic leaving a great business meeting, and getting out on the street, I just had to ride off with passion. Hence, strained calf muscle. I have the enthusiasm of a 20 year old in a *cough*, forty something body. And not a body of the well maintained variety.

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Let the journey begin (just before said injury)

 Anyway, if money were no object, the subject at hand and started by my blogger friend “A story to write” this morning. I need to get to that. (PS Look up “A story to write”, well worth it.)

Anyway, I am well and truly in the zone now of re-engaging with Azure Group and doing what I love, and that is being an advisor….finance, strategic and otherwise to SMEs in the Australian and wider market. If money were no object, while a provoking or even confrontational concept in theory, it made me ponder that what I am doing is what I love. I realise that in the SME sector of my commercial world, you are not only directly assisting in a hopefully successful commercial outcome, but you also have a profound impact on another person or persons life/lives.

I love the commerce of life, but what I havent deeply realised until now, or maybe only in a cursory way, is the clients that are in my space, they have a dream and a vision and an objective to do something that hopefully they are passionate about, and they often risk everything to make it happen and seek to be successful. So, really, if money were no object I actually cannot think of anything that I would rather do ***. I think I have come full circle to where I am, give or take, back to where I have come.

Now…. how to make money 😉

*** the topic is if money were no object…if the topic was “if talent were no object” you would have me gibbering away about how I would much rather be a hippy rockstar belting out some Eric Clapton blues, or being on the sticks with the Chili Peppers, or being behind the dish playing for the Red Sox. But that my friends is more about talent, in my case lack thereof, and less about money being no object.

Footnote:

For reasons too many in number my lifestyle has changed. I no longer have the big mortgage, big everything, wish list of cars and boats and watches yadda yadda. My life right now is rich in many other ways. Danielle, my little man Louie, my daughters (one hopefully will talk to me again one day), my work, my skateboard, my mum and stepdad, my friends, lots of things.

Anyway, I digress.

I was looking at a car magazine that a client had given me and got twitchy about the new AMG CLA45 Merc coming out. I was talking to a client about it, “man I would love to get one” and then reminding myself “when would I drive it when I would rather be on my board”.

My client suggested I not be concerned about such things, and then told me the reason why.

I cant share it as it would expose a commercially sensitive deal, but it made me realise. If you focus on what’s important, that is making a positive influence on another’s life, and your occupation allows you to do this, and less on what is not important, money and “things”,the universe will in fact provide (I think if it thinks you worthy).

I actually own my skateboard. I dont need to buy a car to drive a car…and that my friends was ultimately what my client reminded me of, and in the process of that discussion with my client, and thinking of that “thing” I am working on with said client….the opportunity totally gets me worked up. Makes me passionate. Makes me want to ride off on my board full of enthusiasm and thinking anything is possible, when “money is no object”

I wonder how they would catch you...would they shoot you?

The complexity of the modern family…and not the comedy one

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/stepmonster/201106/why-its-easier-love-stepfather-stepmother

This is a sensational summary of an exceptionally complex relationship issue…thank you for the link to my gal Danielle…

I guess the fact that I am still looking for a solution is better than not…and to avoid giving up in trying to make a connection between all the key relationships in my life…Danielle and my little man Louie together with my two beautiful daughters from my marriage of 24 years.

The scary thing I have come to realise after living what is hopefully not less than half my life (let me think about that, you know what I mean), is I am quite capable of both, that is blind perseverance and on the flipside to giving up. The concern I have is that when I give up, often I never look back…ever.

When I’m riding my board, and I turn my mind away from the possibility of injury to other things that are important to me, I’m not thinking that everything will be roses, I am not that naive. But how do you divide your life in half, and separate your life, when the people that are involved are the most important people in the world to you. Sure, there have been mistakes, corruption of judgment, but am I the only one?? There are three very, very important people in this world today that I would take a bullet for, and those people are my kids. Shortly after that are their mums, the two of them, that I love to bits in very different ways, but it started the same. Does that make sense?

Is it impossible to think that relationships can merge and a form of happiness, some kind of happiness and acceptance can emerge?

I often think about that time, whenever that will be, when it will be too late. When it will be too late to put aside what is important now, in terms of emotions and feelings, but where those emotions and feelings of disappointment, hate, disgust, will all of a sudden evaporate into the sadness of the moment, and then all you have is remorse, regret and a time you will never get back again…and for what.

I would add a photo to this blog story, but it would only make me weep

 

 

 

The simple pleasures…

Keeping to blog title I woke up this morning and had to attend a business meeting…there could be worse things on a Saturday morning than venturing to a food institution, especially for breakfast (Bills at Woollahra). The meeting finished with a flurry of excitement, commitment of startup capital usually has that effect but the chilli fried egg on spinach and brioche was fabulous.

Why this is about the simple pleasures was what happened afterwards.

I moved to Sydney in 1997 as a “drive in/drive out” with the drive out element back to Newcastle, the city of my birth.

When my family moved down permanently in 2001, in hindsight it now seems like a mad rush to get into the zone of life on the upper north shore. Expensive rent, then expensive mortgage, then expensive schools etc etc. I am sure there is sympathy from many that have seen it all as well, that may or may not read this blog.

But today, cruising around in North Sydney on my skateboard (I live here when I am not in Brisbane, in our one bedder “Sydney Saloon”), I stumbled on some joys and gems of Sydney that after years of “living” I had no idea existed…

From a few visits, I have loved spending some time at the foreshore of Lavendar Bay, and my real introduction was with my girl Danielle, and our little man Louie, a month ago.

This time, without any pre-planning, I set off. I am getting more bold and brave with my board (probably a very bad thing), and found myself behind Blue Street at Royal Art Society Gallery. 

Then, I went down some steps, and into an oasis of harbourside park land that was simply beautiful. I was later told by Bruce and Jo that they were sure it was or had been attended to in a very generous way by a local artist. It was the sort of place you could relax in for hours. The sort of park that is in the closing scene of Notting Hill. Where you can sit on a bench and read a book, preferably with one’s love, and the world would be bliss or even lush.

Neither of these two things of complete enjoyment cost a dime, or a five cent piece. They were free. Around the most sensational harbour in the world. And I was happy.

The simple pleasures….ImageImageImageImageImage

Careers, fatherly advice and all that is wrong in the world

I had dinner with my daughter tonight, she is in Grade 10 and we discussed her subject choices for the HSC and it got me thinking about my own choices back then and the path of my career. They say you should pursue what you are passionate about. Maybe its older age, and people do say I can be an angry “Ant”, but I often think of what a career of advocacy could have been. To channel passion in a different direction than purely one of a commercial pursuit, but still linked. I have followed with different degrees of emotion some recent examples of what I have grown to detest about the capitalist side of our world. I have read about the CBA financial planning division, the lack of action by ASIC, and the lives of especially the elderly destroyed not only financially but with great sacrifice to their health, and no doubt the loss of spirit that would come from such disappointment. My anger builds every time I read about Sunland, Dubai and what has occurred with Matt Joyce and some others. Sure, there must be many elements to the truth in this case, but I suspect we are seeing much of the facts coming out and it repulses me. Often justice seems such an elusive outcome, but for the advocates out there who fight the injustices of the world, I tip my hat to you…whatever career form you might have taken….my girl has the heart and soul to make a difference to the lives of others, maybe I should shine a light on this concept of advocacy for her and less on something more traditional, like investment banking 😉