An Autumn Weekend in New York

Originally published in Flourishing September/October 2012 

At 7:00 AM on October 4, 2012, Linda and I boarded a United Airlines flight bound from Wichita to Chicago, where we changed planes and proceeded to New York City.  For the third time in four years, I was attending Nick Murray’s Behavioral Strategies Conference. Nick has long been recognized as our industry’s foremost writer, speaker, and mentor; and I’m proud to say that we’ve become friends.

While I was attending the conference on Friday, Linda was busy planning our agenda for Saturday.  However, she also found time to attend “Joan’s Coffee Hour”, where she visited with Nick’s wife, their daughters, and the spouses of other conference attendees.  She came back to our room with Joan’s autograph, of which she is immensely proud.

If you’ve been in my office, you may have seen a framed print of Frank Lloyd Wright’s original conceptual drawing of the GuggenheimMuseum.  It’s in the corner behind the glass in my (open) office door. I’ve been a fan of Wright’s work since my mother first introduced it to me, perhaps fifty years ago; she wanted me to become an architect.  Linda bought that print for me over twenty years ago as a Christmas present, and as a way to celebrate my transition from the construction industry to the retail financial services business.  Typically then, Linda put visiting the Guggenheim at the top of our to-do list for Saturday.

As many of you know, Linda is afflicted with rheumatoid arthritis, which can make walking difficult for her – and uncomfortable.  So, you know it was an act of love that she insisted on hiking the entire 2.4 miles from our hotel at 49th Street and Lexington Avenue to the Guggenheim on Fifth Avenue at 89th Street – and back again. 

Once at the Guggenheim, we took the elevator to the 6th Level, and then descended the spiral ramp that allows the museum visitor a leisurely and continuous viewing of the art on display.  As it happened, the Guggenheim is currently featuring an astounding exhibition called “Picasso in Black and White”.  It’s fair to say that I’m not a fan of Picasso’s work, but being in the presence of such famous pieces – and in Wright’s final act of creation, the building itself – was both inspiring and a bit intimidating.  Lucky for me, in one of the museum alcoves, we had the opportunity to view works of art—like Wright’s Guggenheim—that I could understand and enjoy.  In particular, I loved a large painting by Camille Pissarro entitled The Hermitage at Pontiose (1867), and In the Vanilla Grove, Man and Horse (1891), by Paul Gaugin. Both made me feel at home.

But, what did I learn at the conference?  I’d like to answer that question forthrightly, but I long ago discovered that learning from Nick is—like art appreciation—mostly a right brain function. A month from now—after my intuitive mind and my deductive mind have had time to talk to each other—some of what I learned may appear with some clarity in this newsletter.  It’s more likely, though, that it will just show up without warning in something that I say or do to help a client.  mh