30 Years

Tomorrow marks my parents’ 30th wedding anniversary. Not many people have had the fortune of being raised by parents who have stayed together that long. Thank you, Mom and Dad, for picking each other wisely and teaching me the value of a strong partnership. Thank you for making my brother and me a reality and putting up with our shenanigans. We all love you dearly and wish you many more years to come!

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10 Life Lessons I Learned From My Dad

  1. Politics should not be a war or game. It’s a process – and we’re in it together.
  2. Appreciate everyone. Even if you strongly dislike someone, thank him or her anyway. As genuinely as possible. Gratitude is the social currency of life.
  3. Experiences are more important than possessions. Food and travel make the spirit of life go ‘round.
  4. Marry smart. Find a brilliant woman and do your due diligence. Love is more than lust.
  5. Build something much bigger than yourself – and finish it. My Dad built a city and spent over half of his life doing it. I have a very long way to go.
  6. It’s okay to listen to the same song a million times. If you love something, why stop doing it?
  7. Fictional worlds are healthy. They help you spark imagination, engage with art and escape for a few minutes per day.
  8. Modesty keeps things simple. I can think of no human being more humble than my father. No fuss, no drama, no ego. If any of those things exist in his life, he never brings them home.
  9. Stay Organized. My father keeps more lists, records, photo journals and data on his life than any man I’ve ever met. He forgets very little, tends to important tasks quickly and keeps life together like no other.
  10. Don’t sweat the small stuff. It won’t matter this time next year.

I love you, Dad. Happy Father’s Day.

The Best Kind of Roommate

…is one you can talk to. I find little more therapeutic than coming home to a good conversation. Party friends, work friends and game buddies often make lousy roommates. Find someone with whom you can vent or philosophize. Same applies to the person you marry. Sex only lasts so long – make sure you’re with someone you’ll still be relieved to see and talk to everyday when you’re old and broken.

Scheduling Love

Busy people often struggle to make ends meet with their loved ones. Life gets out of hand. Before you know it, you miss every meal with him or her and spend no time together except asleep at night. If left unchecked, this can tax your relationship to a bitter end.

If your relationship is truly important to you, you must carve out sacred time for it. One of my teachers in Hollywood, Bruce Botnick, upholds a rare feat in the entertainment industry: he and his wife have been happily married for 43 years. Beyond a pact to stay the uncompromising individuals they each fell in love with in the beginning, a large part of their success as a couple comes from sacred time together. To this day, they still go on dates and get to know each other. Bruce’s stories are a charm to hear – and he spouts them like a giddy schoolboy. A man in true love.

Spending time together is one of the keys to keeping a union healthy. Many forget or neglect it, especially couples that have been together forever. As unromantic as it sounds, you must schedule time for love. Make those blocks of time sacred and let no one take them away.

Marry the Man or Marry the Mission

I’ve seen a lot of relationships collapse because partners failed to compete with the work or passion of their significant others. Especially in Hollywood, where living the dream and working 18 hours per day takes priority over all else. There are two different kinds of people – those who live for life and those who live for their dreams. The former tends to put people first; the latter tends to put the mission first, whatever that mission may be. There’s no right or wrong, better or worse. But when you are trying to engage in an intimate relationship with another person, it is very important to identify the type of person you are with. The disconnect comes when one party invests first in the relationship and the other invests first in the mission. You can fight the disconnect all you want to. But when a person’s love is unwavering or his or her mission is unwavering, you may never win. If the mission comes first, you need to fall in genuine love with the mission. Or move on.

Relationships Must Fight To Win

Before you commit, test the integrity of your relationship. To foster an enduring connection, you must first explore the distances you can travel together (both literally and figuratively). Share the highest of highs and lowest of lows. Fail together and win together. Know the dark side. Without seeing the entire spectrum, you’re far less prepared to survive. Smarter to sequester nasty surprises before investing yourself in the long-term (or death do us part), than to face them firsthand when it’s too late. A courting period rich with peaches and rainbows can be deceptive and dangerous.

Dig deeper, push boundaries, and put up a fight – together.

Decide When to Grow Up

Growing up is not about age or education; it’s about reaching your next milestone. After college, milestones get fuzzy and unique to each person. For some, marriage is the next logical step. For others, a job promotion. What’s your next logical step? It’s okay if you do not know right now. You’ll know when the time is right.

One thing is certain: you’re the only one who can decide when it’s time to grow up. No one else can decide for you. It’s really rare to be promoted without you asking for it first. You’re the only one who can decide when you’re done paying your dues. Likewise, successful marriages build out of mutual consent – each partner agrees it’s time to take the next step together.

Other people can make suggestions, but only you can put one foot in front of the other.