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Typically, the Upper Left Tech podcast features tech executives from the Pacific Northwest, and we talk about their purpose, passions, and personal journeys. As we know, it’s a whole new world we are living in right now. Today I really wanted to focus more on compassion, patience, and gratitude.

It’s a tough time in the world. This is a crisis of proportions that most people on earth have never known in their lifetime. Most people in America haven’t lived through a war, a famine, or a pandemic. It seems everywhere I go, people are scared, panicking, and worried for their lives, their businesses, and what the future may bring.

I believe we as a human race are a lot more powerful than we think. I think we’re a lot stronger. I’ve seen it; I’ve witnessed it.  I think that we’re going to come through this with new lessons learned and better ways of doing things. I have a vision of a world that is ultimately going to be a better place after we overcome this coronavirus.

I know that as a family, we’re going to change some of the things that we do. We’re going to take more long walks. We’ll hug each other more than we ever have before.

We will beat this eventually. We have the combined strength of scientists around  the world looking for remedies and vaccines. We’re going to find what it takes to beat this virus.

So, let me talk a little bit about compassion, patience, and gratitude. Those of you who know me know that my glass is always half full. Rarely do I wake up saying, woe is me. I’m always looking for something positive in the world even through this crisis. Even though we don’t know how bad this is going to get, why is my glass half full?

Putting it in perspective

I was fortunate enough to have a grandfather, actually two granddads, who were involved in World War II. Back in 1982, I spent the summer with my Grandpa Charley who was a guy from Tennessee. During the summer when I went to live with him, I was a senior in college in Colorado. We got to talk a lot. I got to know more and more about him every day over the coffee and the banana bread my grandma would make.

I’ll never forget the stories he would tell about World War II. To this day, they’re very fresh because they’re so vivid. He talked about being in the Solomon Islands as an army captain and fighting in the South Pacific. It was horrible. I asked him, what did your wife do (my grandma – they weren’t married at the time). He said, “Dave, she stayed behind. She changed her career because she went to work in the shipyards down in the San Francisco Bay Area. She was one of those people on the posters. She wasn’t helping by building airplanes, but she was helping by building ships.” He talked about the sacrifices that everyday people made, the rationing. I think it’s hard for us in today’s world to really understand what people of that generation did.

When I asked him how he survived, he said, “Dave, when you’ve got dengue fever, very little water, little ammo, and people shooting at you, you learn life is one step at a time. Every day you take a step is a victory.”

I have a child who is Type I diabetic. I take this stuff very seriously. I hear people bellyaching about how their daughter is going to miss her prom or that they are going to miss the Giants opening day. We must keep our sacrifices in perspective. In today’s world we’re griping about being stuck in our homes. But my gosh, how many premium services do we have? Dominos still delivers.


I only tell you this because we are fighting a war in my opinion. But it’s with a microscopic enemy that none of us can see. We may not have soldiers like my Grandpa Charley, but we still have soldiers on the front lines here. I think we all need to have some compassion for the people who are out there. It’s not just the doctors and the nurses. If you think about it, it’s the police, the essential services, the fire departments. I just left Costco. The employees at Costco are putting it on the line. They have to deal with the public and not all of the public is as conscientious as maybe you or me. Maybe they don’t recognize the social distancing practices that we’ve all heard about.

We’ve got people on the front lines everyday doing their jobs so that we can hunker down, stream Netflix, do a little homeschooling, and wait it out until this thing passes. I would ask everyone to have a little compassion for those who are working so that we can stay at home.


Have patience. Don’t bark at the person in front of you. When you get put on hold for three or four hours, remember that you got to sit on hold from the comfort of your living room, while they were in cubes taking call after call with probably no more than 15 or 20 seconds in between calls. When they get on the call with you, they’re not on a coffee break, they’re just queuing up the next person.


What am I grateful for? My wife and I have never had the opportunity to go for so many long walks with our dog, June. Many of you have seen June on Wealth Lab answering questions on deferred compensation and 401k, which seem all now so irrelevant. But Katherine and I have had the chance to have these amazing conversations over our long walks every night when you’re alone and it’s peaceful. The streets are quiet.

I’ve got three teenagers at home. I’ve always been a vocal person. I tell my kids I love them and hug them every day. But now, I find I tell my kids I love them three times a day. I don’t hug them once, I hug them two or three times. I’m grateful we have this moment in time that gives all of us the opportunity to reflect upon what’s really important to us.

Summing it all up

In addition to having compassion, patience, and gratitude, I’d encourage you to take time to reconnect with friends, look at that old contact list, the people you’re too busy to talk to, because you’re always on the run to the next soccer game. Guess what? They’re probably home, and you can pick up the phone and catch them right now.

Thanks for reading. I just wanted to share these thoughts with you. I wish you all the very, very best. Stay safe, keep your family close, and be well.