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Friday, March 29, 2019

For KP

This week, my former boss and long-time mentor is retiring. Here's the speech I gave at his retirement luncheon.

There are only a few moments in my life that I can remember very clearly, and one of those was just over 12 years ago, when I interviewed with KP and JB for what has become known as the data specialist role within our team. Even though I knew them already from getting signatures on trades so I could fax and scan them to our counterparties, they were still as intimidating as we all know them to be. KP hotly contests that he is intimidating, but we all know it’s true.

I remember sitting in KP’s office on 34, since he had that extra wooden circular table, in what would eventually become “my seat,” and telling KP and JB that I didn’t know how to do half of the things in the job description they’d provided. I was specifically very scared of being responsible for knowing the performance of the fund and the index. I had no idea then that performance would be the thing that would keep me up at night all these years later.

I joined Loomis in 2005, but didn’t join this team until March 2007, just before the bank loan market was the hottest it probably will ever be. I was sending out easily over a dozen bank books a week. We had the SLF and Lux, and SLF II, Credit Opps, and two CLOs and 1199... and then the bottom dropped out from underneath us all. I had my son Max on January 1, 2008, which was perfect timing if you want to spend the first year of your child’s life in a panic about whether or not you’d continue to have a job.

But somehow we persevered, and I learned about defaults and we argued the definitions of recovery, and things improved. We came up with the “promises” section of our presentation. Then we got permission to develop SFRFI, and I started sitting in on more and more presentations. That wooden circular table had become the staging area for all of the marketing books KP needed printed out for every meeting and roadshow. Soon enough I got to hit the road too, but it was hard for KP to accept at first. He eventually became what he always has been for me: my biggest supporter and champion.

For years, whenever someone asked me what I liked best about my job, the answer was a simple one: I liked the fact that you and JB were the smartest people in the room. I was always going to learn something new when I was around you, whether it was in front of a client or in one of the many, many lectures you would give me over the years. I trusted that you were working as hard as you could to do the right things for our clients, and for our team, and that was something I wanted to be part of. When performance turned down again in 2015, you once again walked me through the resiliency of bank loans, and then we had our best year ever, leading us to win the Lipper Award, one of the proudest moments of my career.

We haven’t always agreed on everything. For example, no one will ever really believe me when I tell them the story of the car accident we were in on the way to a meeting at Natixis, because the version you tell is better. And while you will tell everyone that you’re a registered Independent, we’ve had plenty of heated discussions over the years. I haven’t always been able to get you on my side, but I like to think I’ve made some progress.

KP, thank you for all that you’ve done for me and for this team. Personally, it’s pretty amazing that I’ve almost made it to the end of the elementary years as a full-time working mom, while also experiencing so much amazing growth and opportunity, and I know that wouldn’t have been possible without you and JB. Thank you for always making time for us; the time you invested in each of us has made all of us better, not just at our jobs, but as people. What you have built goes beyond AUM and performance, even if those are your primary goals. It’s also about a team of people who through disciplined choices and hard work, can do the very best we can for our clients.

Thank you for everything, and you will be dearly missed.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Fifteen

At the Museum of Ice Cream in San Francisco
Today, Hannah Ruth, you are turning fifteen.

And seriously? That's enough for me. Just stay right here, as you are, right now. I'd be perfectly happy to keep you here forever. You, on the other hand, have bigger plans.

You started high school after delivering an amazing speech at eighth grade graduation. You were a brainiac (#HSMforever), an astronaut and a sky diver. You continued to sing all over with the Troubadours and HaZamir. You produced "Emotional Baggage" to cap off your Oak Hill Drama experience, and we saw many shows together. You traveled to New York City and Israel without your parents, but camp remains your home, and your friends there are your family.   

You cried tears of happiness when we finally got a dog, and after Zimriyah, and at the Kotel, and tears of stress in honors math and after theater auditions. You rock a double French braid and are always up for new clothes. You've made so many new friends in high school, and it's amazing to me how you just collect people who love you. Not as much as your brother loves you though, and I appreciate how you go out of your way to show your love for him.

You have so much coming ahead for you, and I know you're going to rock all of it. We talk just the tiniest bit about driving and college on the horizon, but I know you'll be ready for all of it when the time comes. For now, I hope you enjoy something in each day, even if it's just belting out show tunes in the shower. I love you, Hannie. Happy birthday.

(You can also see letters for ages seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen and fourteen.)

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Eleven

On the glass floor at the top of Willis Tower in Chicago
Today, Max Benjamin, you are turning eleven.

And you're kind of "meh" about the whole getting older thing. You realize that you're having a pretty amazing childhood, and that adulthood isn't all it's cracked up to be. But you also can't wait to get your birthday present, so getting older will have to come.

This year you started your last year of elementary school. You were Prince Charming and a Guy in Tie, and will soon be a barkeep and a Lion King. You were a singing, two types of guitar, flute-playing wonder. We marched for our lives together. You had another epic summer at camp, and we all know Gurim was robbed at Zim. You finally made it to Mount Rushmore and the world's biggest ball of twine, driving 5800 miles with Dad. You got an iPhone and used it to text your grandparents.

You are all things YouTube and film-making (be sure to like and subscribe!), and “did you know” political facts and conspiracy theories and, as of this past week, a taxi-driving alter ego, Daniel Dingleschwaber. You have your own sense of style, lately favoring jeans and accessorizing with bracelets, and of course, your long hair. You want to know everything, and you want to share what you know even more. Your sister’s support means everything to you, and she’s still your best friend, followed closely by our new puppy, Shira.

So much lies ahead for you. Fifth grade graduation and starting middle school, a full seven weeks at camp, and so many more videos to be made. I'm so proud of you, and grateful that I get to be on this journey with you. Happy birthday - I love you, buddy.

(You can also see letters for ages three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine and ten.)