Why do we do what we do? What inspires us to get up in the morning and go to work? Why do some people get on a plane, every Monday, travel many miles, leave their families behind for days, weeks, months and sometimes years? Why did so many immigrants leave their places of birth and move to America leaving everything else behind? Why do many of us take on high stress jobs which often force us to decide between career and time with family? Why do we strive to improve our lives? Why are you reading this blog post?
In his book Start with Why, Simon Sinek talks about the power of finding what drives you. He talks about knowing this above all else and how important it is to communicate why you do the things you do. It is a great read and I highly recommend it. Over the past few years I have thought hard about my “Why”. This question is relevant every day. It enables me to decide where and with whom I spend my time and more importantly what are the things that are not important enough and do not have a place on my calendar.
My Why today boils down to a few key items. There are other things on the list but these four are the most important to me right now:
- My Wife and Kids: I work to be able to provide for and spend quality time with my loved ones. I love spending time with my wife. Whether it is going for a run, visiting a property, running after our kids or going on a fun trip to a new place, we always have a great time. We are fortunate and grateful to be able to work together professionally and to have four healthy, strong and intelligent daughters who delight us and inspire us every day. Our children will only be little for so long. This is a precious time for any parent. We love going places with our kids, be it exploring the local park, riding bikes, cheering them at sporting events or visiting foreign countries. Having the freedom of time to spend with them is of utmost priority for me. It seems our four year old is turning 24 and we still cannot believe we have a teenager. Where did the time go?
- Our Parents: Our parents are getting older and we are privileged to be able to spend good times with them, while they are still healthy and active. It gives me great joy to travel places together with them, to share our kids with them. Our parents gave everything to us and we would not be here without them. Sure they are stuck in their ways sometimes but we love them. I love being able to discuss Premier League soccer with my dad. He is always talking about his team needing a new coach. It is great to go see a soccer match together still, it reminds me of him taking me when I was a just a kid. I love going to see properties with my mom; she enjoys taking pictures of us with brokers, property managers, leasing managers. She is always ready to share what she thinks. She likes to drive and going on road trips. She loves going on trips of any kind, to explore and see new places. As we celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend I am grateful for my mom.
- Entrepreneurship: I had my first little business when I was 12 years old back in Sierra Leone. I sold cold drinks to patients in my father’s clinic. Later I figured out that past exam papers were a hot commodity among students studying for finals. I built up a library, spent some time at the local copier and sold many past exam papers. In college in Ann Arbor I discovered that college football was a huge event on Saturdays. I bought a bunch of Michigan gear at discount on eBay and would sell hats, t-shirts and other Michigan swag on game day outside the Big House. One summer I rented an ice cream truck and trolled the little league baseball fields playing that ice cream tune that I can still hear in my head sometimes :). In business school I took a lot of Entrepreneurship classes. I took a risk and started a management consulting business. I like the feeling of building something. I love the independence of not having to look to a superior for direction. It is exhilarating. When you have kids to feed, clothe and eventually send to college, it can be particularly scary. But this drives me. Investing in real estate, syndicating and finding great deals for my investors checks this box for me and many more.
- Making a Difference: I work to be able to make a difference in the world. Two weeks ago Sierra Leone celebrated its 60th Independence Anniversary. It is a good reminder of how different life is elsewhere. It is a reminder of how different our problems are. I grew up there, and apart from first grade did all my pre-college schooling there. It is a beautiful place. It is also a place that continues to need development of all kinds: educational, economic, infrastructure, health, etc. My dad is a medical doctor in Sierra Leone and I am happy to be able to support his work in making a difference in people’s lives there. Together with my sister we built a hospital in the village where my dad was born that today serves a community of about twenty thousand people. My wife and I have supported various organizations doing important work to promote health and education in the country. Some friends founded a non profit called the Excelling Youth Educational Scholarship Program (EYES) through which promising young students are supported financially through primary, secondary and tertiary education. My wife, my mother-in-law and I have been supporters of this initiative as it is sorely needed. My wife brought Unite for Sight to Sierra Leone and through her work we distributed reading glasses to seniors and had sessions in schools to promote and teach eye care health. When the ebola outbreak hit the country in 2014 my wife and I raised money to send personal protective equipment to the healthcare workers.
What is your Why? Know it. Live it. Every day.