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Hi, Kevin Coupe here, and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy, coming to you this week from Southern California. Many of you will not be surprised by that, since MNB has been coming out early all this week - the Pacific time zone really works for me. I'm standing right now midway between Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach ... a stretch of the California coastline that I've always loved, since I went to college just a few miles from here, at Loyola Marymount University.
When I was in college, it was fun to come down here, park the car and go for a long walk on the Strand - there used to be a great place where we could get these enormous $2 burritos, $1 beers, and then walk up the street to go to a move for $1.50. Those days are gone forever, I'm afraid; standing here on the beach, one can hear the waves breaking onto the sand from one direction, and from the other, the sound of hammers and drills as yet another mansion goes up, replacing the beach houses that used to run along the Strand. Life goes on.
I'm in Southern California for three good reasons. First, there's no snow. We still have about 18-20 inches of snow back home, and even though there's a thaw going on, it could take weeks to get rid of ... and me, I prefer sand and sun. The good news is that I have a business reason to be here - a speech that I had the opportunity to give this week.
The third reason is kind of cool. My 20-year-old daughter is a criminal justice major and a junior at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut - she's a dean's list student, and she's beginning to toy with the idea of law school. So since I had to be here, and she was on break this week, I invited her to come with me, and we made a trip to see Loyola Law, just so she could get a taste of the experience.
I have to tel you, we were both blown away - by the people we met, by the way in which the legal education is designed to meet the needs of the students and the needs of the community, and also by the Frank Gehry-designed campus, which is this wonderful oasis in downtown LA. When we were done, I was ready to apply to law school...
Last night, my daughter and I were having dinner at a place in Manhattan Beach that we both like, called Simmzy's. It is just this small place just up from the pier - lots of regulars, always crowded, with interesting and really good food and a great beer and wine list. And she asked me, "Dad, if you were here by yourself, what would you be doing right now?"
"I'd probably be here," I said. "I'd be sitting at the bar, but I'd probably be here."
She thought that was really sad ... that I'd be sitting at the bar by myself, 3,000 miles away from home.
But the truth is - and I told her this - that I have no problem doing that. As they say in The Godfather, Part Two, this is the life I have chosen. The other truth is that I'm never completely alone ... there always are people to talk to...bartenders, waiters and waitresses, other patrons ... and the experience is always richer for it. I get to hear their stories, wherever I happen to be, and that keeps me from being alone.
Now, I'm lucky. I get to make my own hours and my own decisions, so I don't have to do what some people do - get off the plane, go to a meeting, go to the hotel, order room service, go to bed, and then do it all over again the next day. I've been doing this for almost 30 years, and I think I've ordered room service a total of three times ... there's always a reason to go out, and someplace to go.
My daughter wasn't really convinced, so I tried again: "Y'know what's really sad? The people I see at places like this who are sitting there with someone else - maybe a first date, or maybe someone they've been married to for 40 years - and they don't talk. I've never really believed i that old line about 'a relationship so great that you don't have to talk'. To me a great relationship - and I have this with your mom - is that I can't wait to talk to her. There's always something to talk about, and that's my idea of a great relationship."
I thought about it afterwards, and I think there's even a business lesson in here somewhere. (Go figure.) Part of being successful in business, I think, is being open to the new experience - the new conversation, the new story, the new person who can teach you something you didn't know before. When I walk out the hotel room door, my goal isn't just to eat and drink something that maybe I haven't had before (and sometimes to visit a place that may be 3,000 miles from home but where I feel like a regular, because that also has its charms). It also is to go learn stuff.
Like I said, I'm lucky. Learning stuff is how I make a living. Stop doing that, and I'd die. Or, might as well die, because I wouldn't really be living.
There's that great line from The Shawshank Redemption: "Get busy living, or get busy dying."
I think it applies to life and business.
That's what is on my mind this Thursday morning. As always, I want to hear what is on your mind.
- KC's View: