Today in Michael Marcon Tweets: “Roses are red, violets are blue…”



So began the first line of at least 50% of every greeting card I ever wrote. Yes, I wrote greeting cards. Birthday, anniversary, Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, graduation — you name the life event and I created a greeting card for it. With artwork!

Oh, I did not do this professionally. You see, we have a long-standing tradition in my family that started with my parents when I was just old enough to draw. It has been passed to all of my siblings. It has been passed to my children and to my nieces and nephews. We make all of our cards. You cannot buy a card for Father’s Day. You make a card for Dad. FYI – I was making cards for my Dad right up until he passed away. That is right – a 52 year old CEO was making cards for his Dad (and is still making cards for his wife and his kids).

As I was packing up my Father’s belongings shortly after he died, I came across a dozen shoeboxes in his closet. They contained all of the cards he had received from all of his children over the years. I sat down and read through them. I don’t know which won out, the tears or the laughs, as both were in abundance that afternoon. I actually came across a letter that Dad had saved that I wrote to him on Father’s Day in 1988! It became the centerpiece of my eulogy at his funeral.

I cannot wait for my first card from Penelope, my granddaughter. It will begin the 4th generation of Marcon card making. Hallmark has nothing on us!

The recent passing of my Dad has caused me to reflect on many other traditions. They are the foundation of a family, a culture, a country, a religion. Traditions ground us. Traditions teach us. Traditions inform us of the past. Some are corny. Some are meaningless. Some are passed down for generations. Some are relatively new. But, all of them, combined, make us who we are. Here are some of mine…

Michael Marcon Tweets: We have pizza every Friday.

I don’t know where / how this one started, but don’t try to stop it now. Sausage and pepperoni — unless it’s Lent, then just cheese.

Michael Marcon Tweets: Mary makes cinnamon rolls for breakfast on Christmas morning.

Speaking of Christmas, our tradition is also to watch It’s a Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve (is it a tradition if the entire country does the same thing?) and open one present, which is picked by Mary.

Michael Marcon Tweets: We have a family reunion every year.

For the past 30 years, we have created a tradition of a hosting a family reunion each July in our summer spot of Door County, WI (aka “heaven on earth,” at least in the summer). Some years, we get over 100 people for the three-day weekend celebration. Other years, we have less than 30. Some years, we reminisce about loss. Other years, we celebrate the joy of new additions. This summer, we will do both. We BBQ, karaoke, play golf, ride go-karts, go fishing, boating, moped riding, horseback riding, and celebrate the strength, support, and love of a family created by two immigrants from Italy more than 90 years ago.

Michael Marcon Tweets: We work and we pray.

Sometimes in the same morning. As a reader of Michael Marcon Tweets, you are aware that faith is a major part of my life and upbringing. You also know that I was instilled with a work ethic passed from my grandfather to my father to me. Hopefully, I have instilled it in my children. My grandmother instilled my faith tradition. Nonna would get up early every morning and place all of my newspapers in my pushcart in advance of my morning paper route. The last stop on my morning route was the rectory of our local parish. After I finished delivering papers, I would stay at church to perform as an altar boy at the 6:30 a.m. Mass. Nonna would always be in the first pew. She would walk home with me after Mass. While we walked, she held her rosary. I was amazed that she could walk, talk, and pray at the same time! That rosary is now one of my most cherished possessions.

Michael Marcon Tweets: We celebrate our spouse.

This is a new tradition for me that I owe to my dear friend, Phil Shultes. A few years ago, Phil lost his wife, Mary Ann, suddenly to a brain aneurysm. All of his friends were shocked and saddened. We all hurried to upstate NY to be with him and support him. As he gave his wife’s eulogy, he told us of a tradition he had. Every year, on his children’s birthdays, he sent Mary Ann a dozen roses. The note always said, “Thank You.” A few weeks later, on March 18 (Matthew’s birthday), Mary received a dozen roses. The card said, “Thank You.” On, May 10 (Keaton’s birthday), she received a dozen roses. The card said, “Thank You.”

My last tradition? Try to be smart enough to recognize when someone else has created a great tradition and incorporate it into your life. I think I will head out and buy some stock in FTD and 1-800-Flowers right now, before this post gets published.

Michael C. Marcon is the founder & CEO of Equity Risk Partners and former chairman of the Ursinus College board of trustees. He tweets from @mcm7464. Tweet him any of your questions about business, leadership or life.

Today in Michael Marcon Tweets: Lunch with Mike. 1/2 Personal.

At business lunch

For a change, I am only going to share one Michael Marcon Tweets rule: What defines you is what you do when no one is looking.

Here’s the story, far too long for a tweet. When I was 23 years old, I was working in the Capital Management Group at CIGNA Corp in Philadelphia as a Senior Financial Analyst. At the time, my father was Senior Executive Vice President of Insurance Services Office in New York.

One day, he traveled from NY to Philadelphia for some meetings with the senior executives. Those executives were located on a different floor from me – the floor where, as one of my colleagues said, “The rules change.” As I think back now, I cannot be certain that my Dad did not “manufacture” the meeting so that he could stop in to check up on me (I know today that the demands of my New York City clients increased exponentially about the same time my son, Matthew, moved to NYC).

I was sitting in my cubicle (they were not called “workstations” back then) working away on my actual desk-sized desk top computer when I heard a commotion in the hallway. I looked up to see my Dad and a cadre of CIGNA senior execs walking toward me. He introduced me to all of them (who all politely acted as if they knew me) and then said, “If it is OK with these guys, maybe you can break away from your Lotus 1-2-3 (millennials, Google it) and have lunch with me.” I bounced up as if I was sitting on a spring!

My Dad took me across the street to the Fountain Room at the Four Seasons hotel. It was the power lunch spot in Philadelphia and a bit of a step up from my normal “two soft pretzels and a diet Coke” from the corner vendor (that’s about all you can get when your lunch budget is $1.00).

The lunch was awesome. Impeccable service. Tremendous views of Ben Franklin Parkway and the Art Museum. Great food. And, best of all, I was having an adult, business lunch with my Dad. We discussed my work, his meetings, the pros and cons of the company, and various other subjects that two business executives would discuss. I have always said that I received a world class liberal arts education from Ursinus College and a topnotch MBA from Drexel University, but I received a real-world business education from one-on-one times like this with my Dad.

As our lunch ended, the bill came and my Dad handed the waiter his American Express card (oh, how I wanted to be important enough to have an AmEx). When the waiter returned, my Dad totaled and signed the check. He then turned the receipt over – as I have now done 1000s of times – and I watched as he wrote on the back – “Lunch w/Mike. 1/2 personal.”

I said to my Dad, “What do you mean ‘1/2 personal’? This was a business lunch. We were discussing business. You were meeting with CIGNA. I work for CIGNA. This is a business meeting.”

I will never forget the look on his face. He did not look at me, he lasered through me. He then said something that has stayed with me for 30 years: “I have worked my ass off to get to this point in my career. I am about to become the CEO. People watch what I do, even when I don’t know they are watching. Do you think the clerk in accounting pays attention to my expense accounts? Do you think my boss knows that you work for CIGNA, too? I am not ‘going down’ over a $30 lunch.”

I try every day to apply that standard to my personal and professional life. Here’s another Michael Marcon Tweet to paraphrase James Earl Jones from Field of Dreams: “People will watch, Ray. Oh, people will watch.”

Michael C. Marcon is the founder & CEO of Equity Risk Partners and former chairman of the Ursinus College board of trustees. He tweets from @mcm7464. Tweet him any of your questions about business, leadership or life.

Today in Michael Marcon Tweets: Be True to Your School

Liberal Arts

“When some loud braggart tries to put me down

And says his school is great

I tell him right away

Now what’s the matter buddy

Ain’t you heard of my school

It’s number one in the state”

Readers know that I am a proud alum of Ursinus College. I have been true to my school – contributing time, talent and treasure over the 30 years since I graduated in 1986. Yet, I have not come close to repaying the debt I owe to that institution. I can trace much of my success and achievements in life to four factors: my parents, my wife, my faith based catholic education from K – 12, and my four years at Ursinus College — the small, liberal arts college in, yes, Collegeville, PA outside of Philadelphia.

Why Ursinus College? (By the way, it is er–SIGN–us. And, don’t try it – we have already heard all of the jokes.) Like many people, I like to say that I picked the right college for all the wrong reasons. As the oldest of five, I was very sensitive to cost. As a (mostly) “straight A” student with strong SAT scores, I wanted an academic challenge. As a homebody, I wanted to be within driving distance of home. As an athlete, I wanted to continue playing basketball. So, why Ursinus College? It was close. It was the least expensive. It was “highly selective.” The basketball team had just gone to the D-III Final Four. And, most importantly, I made my campus visit on a spectacular spring day and was dumbfounded as a 17 year old to see all of the co-eds in shorts and tank tops sitting out in the sun. To someone who had just spent four years at an all-boys, Catholic high school, this was heaven. Oh yeah – and they accepted me.

Since that sophisticated, highly technical decision tree analysis of 30 years ago, I have come to realize the singular importance of a liberal arts education. A liberal arts education – the one Ursinus College offers especially – does not “make you who you are.” A liberal arts education allows you “to become who you were meant to be.”

Ursinus College is egalitarian. It does not put on airs. It is working class. Most students work on campus (I had multiple jobs during my four years). Few students have cars on campus and those that do are likely not driving a late model German import.

The late President of Ursinus College, Bobby Fong, (who I had the privilege to work with as an Ursinus College trustee), gave one of the best definitions of the power of a liberal arts education – “it gives you the power to change the world.” Dr. Fong knew that a liberal arts education prepares students for careers in industries that don’t even exist yet. Liberal arts are not specific. They are general. Graduate school is for specifics. Corporate training / intern programs are for specifics. The liberal arts are for creating the foundation upon which you build a life. As an homage to Bobby Fong, a lifelong and avid baseball fan, the liberal arts are “spring training” for life. This is where you work on the fundamentals. The batting cage, bunting, base running, infield, shagging pop-ups, hit-and-runs and cut-off drills are replaced by science, math, philosophy, literature, humanities, language, creative writing and critical thinking. None of these areas – in a vacuum – will land you a job.

Taken in their totality, the liberal arts will land you a life.

Michael C. Marcon is the founder & CEO of Equity Risk Partners and former chairman of the Ursinus College board of trustees. He tweets from @mcm7464. Tweet him any of your questions about business, leadership or life.

Today in Michael Marcon Tweets: Casey at the Bat or Roy Hobbs?


Striking out with the bases loaded.

Missing two foul shots with your team down by 1 point and no time left on the clock.

Being passed over for a promotion.

Getting laid off.

Failing to achieve a budget goal.

What do all of these things have in common? Me.

These are just a few examples of a lifetime of failures, disappointments, under-achievements, heartbreaks and losses. And I remember every one as if it was yesterday.

The game winning shot? The walk off home run? The big new business win? They are all fleeting and not very fulfilling in the long run.

Michael Marcon Tweets: “It is not how far you fall. It is how high you bounce.”

That was advice I received from an Ursinus College classmate shortly after I was laid off in 1992. I had been a high performer since my graduation from Ursinus College in 1986 – all “1’s” on every performance review in my first job out of school at CIGNA Corp. I relocated to San Francisco after I met my wife, Mary (more about her in a future Michael Marcon Tweets post), and took a job with Transamerica Insurance Group. It was my first job with “Manager” in the title. I was a Regional Finance Manager! At 28! Michael C. Marcon (in the days long before Twitter) was on a rocket ride to CEO (probably before 30 as I was just waiting for all of the “higher ups” to come to their senses and recognize the gem in their midst). But within the next year, I was being laid off as the company was sold and reorganized. I was on the wrong side of a rightsize.

Michael Marcon Tweets: “Success is failure turned inside out. It’s the silver tint of the clouds of doubt.”

I “bounced” from Transamerica to Aon. Whoever said, “It is better to be lucky than good” sure knew what they were talking about. I joined Aon right as the firm was taking off. It was an open field of opportunity. If you were willing to bet on yourself and work hard, the upside was tremendous. This was nirvana for a brilliant, motivated, articulate, self-starter like me. Retirement by 40 was in my sights (insert sarcasm emoji here). Until it wasn’t. Sales was hard. Prospects did not just hand over their business. They expected this thing called a “value proposition.” They wanted their insurance broker to be someone called a “subject matter expert.” 12 months in, my total new business production was $513 (thanks, Dad, for buying that policy). I started to consider a career change. Maybe I was not cut out to be a broker.

Michael Marcon Tweets: “I didn’t say you HAD to be the best. I said you needed to STRIVE to be the best. Character – it’s in the trying.”

As Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.” My “701st time” was the night I was flying back to San Francisco from New York. As usual, I boarded the plane loaded down with business periodicals. Like I had done hundreds of times before, I read an article about a private equity firm that was hitting it big. But this time, for the first time, I read the article through a prism of business development instead of just intellectual curiosity. Business passion – mergers and acquisitions – please meet business need – sales development. That flight in the fall of 1993 created for me a business model that has sustained me and dozens (hundreds?) of people that have worked with me for the past 23 years.

How will I fail next? I can’t wait to find out.

Michael C. Marcon is the founder & CEO of Equity Risk Partners and former chairman of the Ursinus College board of trustees. He tweets from @mcm7464. Tweet him any of your questions about business, leadership or life.

Michael Marcon Tweets at Students, Too

I like speaking with students. I enjoy the ability to give back. I look back on my formative years at Ursinus College and wish that I had had access to business leaders and other successful people to help with my path forward. For the past several years, in my prior role as a trustee at Ursinus College, I have had the opportunity to speak to students on many, many occasions.   I hope that I was able to impart some wisdom and guidance. I suspect they enjoyed it more because I represented a break from the normal class work! Regardless, every time I speak to a group of students, I always get the same questions:

Michael Marcon Tweets: “Do you have any regrets in your business career?”

My answer? No. Where you are in life is the sum of every decision you have made up to this very second. In fact, it is also the sum of every decision ever made up to this very second – if my mom went to the St. Anthony church picnic on Sunday in 1957 instead of Saturday, she doesn’t meet my Dad and I am not the person I am today.

To have a “regret” means that you do not want to be in this place, this moment, right here, right now. I cannot imagine being anywhere else than this place, this moment, right here, right now. This does not mean that I have not had my share of heartbreak, disappointment, despair, defeat, and sadness. But, all of those moments have shaped my life to this point. Is not the success of my company, Equity Risk Partners, that much more gratifying as a result of the prior frustrations? Is not the joy of holding my granddaughter Penelope that much sweeter as a result of previous loss and heartbreak?

To have no regrets, does not mean that I have not learned lessons. Ursinus College has taught me many lessons – some very recently – that I will continue to incorporate into my future decisions. Remember “Michael Marcon Tweets” from December 13, 2016 – “What you did is done. It is what you do next that defines who you are.” Or, as LL Cool J would say, “Regrets? Nah, man.”

Michael Marcon Tweets: “How did you get to where you are now?”

To quote David Letterman, “I am hopelessly lost, but I am making ‘good time.’”

In thinking about this question over the years, my answer has not changed – Be Present. I never tried to “back into” some real or imagined “necessary outcome.”   There are too many variables outside of your control to make the concept of backing into a desired outcome even remotely feasible. So, I never tried.

In building my career, I never once thought, “I need to be at this level by this date making this much money.” As you know from prior Michael Marcon Tweets, I did spend a lot of time focused on not achieving what I thought I was capable of achieving in my career. Which was what? Simply, “more.”

In building Equity Risk Partners, we never once thought, “We need to be at this revenue level by this date and exit at this multiple so that we can return this amount to investors.” At the risk of sounding like “Leave It To Beaver” (millennials – google it), we just started each day by asking one simple question – “How do we build a great firm?” How do you get to where I am now? Walk through your own “Potentiometer” (Michael Marcon Tweets, January 31, 2017) every year and have it turn “green.” You will end up exactly where you are supposed to be.

Michael Marcon Tweets: “What should I/we do to be successful?”

Easy. Go back and read my prior posts on Michael Marcon Tweets. Then, do the exact opposite!

The answer to that question is the same as what PGA Tour players ask from their caddies – “Show up. Shut up. Keep up.”

Every successful person I have ever met / knew / read about all had the same quality – they put themselves in a position to be successful. They were there when the opportunities arose. They raised their hand when someone needed to step up. They surrounded themselves with mentors and colleagues and friends and supporters that collectively shared in their success. They showed up.

At our firm, we like to invest in bright, young, “up ‘n comers.” You can’t “teach” a work ethic. You can’t “train” someone to have presence. So, we try to select for those qualities and then train them on the technicalities. As a result, we get a lot of “high maintenance” professionals who are not used to struggling early in their career. I always tell them the same thing – You will know that you are the “big man on campus” when you stop feeling compelled to tell people you are the “big man on campus.” They shut up.

Lastly, the sooner you recognize that there is no true definition of success – it is truly in the eye of the beholder – the better off you will be. Sure, I could have told you that right from the outset. But, I needed to get in my 1000 words! Whatever their definition, the successful people keep moving with the target. They keep changing with the world. They keep challenging the status quo (and themselves). They keep up.

After all of that, would you like to hear my “real real” answer? It came from the then 6 year old son of my long-time assistant and colleague.


Michael C. Marcon is the founder & CEO of Equity Risk Partners and former chairman of the Ursinus College board of trustees. He tweets from @mcm7464. Tweet him any of your questions about business, leadership or life.

Today in Michael Marcon Tweets: “Focus on mastering the job, not climbing the ladder.”


Ryan Leaf. Brian Bosworth. Sam Bowie. Johnny Manziel. What do they have in common? They make every list of “worst draft picks.” They were all heralded collegiate performers. They were all evaluated by a plethora of experts. Ultimately, a really smart general manager and (likely) a billionaire team owner decided, “Michael Jordan? No way. Let’s draft Sam Bowie instead.”

Hiring the right person is the ultimate challenge for any business leader. Building the right team is an art form that requires skill, luck, perseverance, trial and error. Have I mastered it? No way. I suspect my “batting average” is about .500. That is a hall of fame number…for a baseball player. For a business executive, it is mediocre. I often find myself thinking this: “Imagine how good we could be if I eliminated all of the mistakes.” Of course, it is the mistakes that allow us to learn.

I can sum up my thoughts on this very simply. When my youngest son was getting ready to start his first “real job,” I sent him a note. It went something like this, and I’ve even bolded the best parts in case you want to tweet them.

Michael Marcon Tweets: Be the first one in and the last one to leave.

At a minimum, always be in before your boss and leave after she does. In my early days, I would always save all of my photocopying for the end of the day. Once all of my peers had left (it helps that I did not drink, so happy hour held no allure for me), I sauntered over to the copy machine. Did I mention that it sat right outside the VP’s office? Every night, Michael Marcon was the last person he saw before he left. Interestingly, despite the quality of this advice, it would not work in my own company. Most days when I am not traveling, I am the one unlocking the office door in the morning and the one with the last email at night. Coincidence?

Michael Marcon Tweets: College is not a substitute. Neither are summer jobs or internships.

They both demonstrate that you are capable of finishing what you start, getting up and going to a job, and appropriately interacting with others. They demonstrate (Ursinus College notwithstanding, of course) that you can read, write, add, and subtract. What they do not teach you is how to do our job, our way, in our culture, with our colleagues. Your ability to add value to our firm and our shareholders is what will propel you forward and differentiate you from your peers. Speaking of…

Michael Marcon Tweets: No ear buds.

The tech people and the coders are rolling their eyes. I know. But, in a professional services firm, we collaborate. More importantly, you learn more than you know just from paying attention to what is going on around you. Yes, there are exceptions, but please don’t send me the list. Most of the time, the exceptions are outweighed by the positives of “being present.”

Michael Marcon Tweets: Leave your phone in your desk drawer / briefcase.

Despite the social media aspect of this blog, social media is a “productivity suck.” Employers hate to walk the floor and watch colleague after colleague quickly ditching their phone, turning off their screen, and calling up their spreadsheet. The latest “You won’t believe what this Brady Bunch star looks like now!”, Jay Z / Beyonce video, Donald Trump tweet, and outraged reaction from MSNBC are not important during work hours. FOMO is a true affliction. There was a time when companies used to give smokers a “smoke break” for 10 minutes. I can see a day when we give people a “social media” break. Then, it will lead to “No Social Media” within 50 feet of public buildings or schools. Then, “No Social Media” in all public spaces. Finally, there will be a “Social Media Tax” on all posts and downloads with proceeds going to pay for public awareness campaigns on the health risks associated with social media. Or, you can leave your phone in your drawer and focus on what your employer is paying you to do.

Michael Marcon Tweets: Ask Questions.

Lots and lots of questions. Be like a 3 year old – “Why?” “Why?” “Why?” “But, why?” You cannot learn if you do not ask. Do not stop when your colleagues get lazy and say, “That’s just how we do it.” Your questions and your fresh perspective are what a company needs to rethink the status quo.

Michael Marcon Tweets: Focus on mastering the job, not climbing the ladder.

I wish someone had given me this advice 30 years ago. I was always focused on the next box on the org chart. To excel in our organization, we look for professionals that are mastering their craft. You get ahead by lifting people up, not by tearing them down. You need to have faith that your boss can tell the difference.

If you – or someone you know – fits this description, tweet me their resume (yes, you still need a resume; no, a YouTube video of you acting out your business skills to various hip-hop songs is not a substitute). They might just be a good fit.

Michael C. Marcon is the founder & CEO of Equity Risk Partners and former chairman of the Ursinus College board of trustees. He tweets from @mcm7464. Tweet him any of your questions about business, leadership or life.

Today in Michael Marcon Tweets: Waiting on a Sunny Day


“Hard times. Baby, well, they come to us all.

Sure as tickin’ of the clock on the wall.

Sure as the turnin’ of the night into day.

Your smile, girl, brings the morning light to my eyes.

It lifts away the blues as I rise.

I hope that you’re coming to stay.

I’m waiting. Waiting on a sunny day.

Gonna chase the clouds away.

I’m waiting on a sunny day.”

I never really appreciated the lyrics to one of my favorite Springsteen songs until the last few weeks.   We are constantly waiting instead of appreciating. We are cynical instead of hopeful. We see shadows instead of light. We see chaos instead of a plan. We think we are lost instead of knowing the way.

My favorite saying these days is this: “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.”

I woke up on Wednesday, January 18, for an early morning flight from San Francisco to Chicago. Typical. Traffic? Typical. TSA security cluelessness? Typical. Mind-numbing United Airlines boarding process? Typical. Frantic texts from your father’s nurse to contact her right away? Not part of the plan. Several days later, I was giving my father’s eulogy. Want to make God laugh?

I went to bed after the Super Bowl telling my wife that we had witnessed a miracle by the New England Patriots. Want to challenge God as to what constitutes a miracle? I woke up Monday morning at 4:00 am, as usual. From the shower, I heard the scream – “No Way!” Mary had just received the news that our first grandchild, Penelope Francis, had been born 40 minutes earlier – more than two weeks ahead of schedule and less than 6 days after I gave my father’s eulogy. 8 hours later, I was holding a true miracle in my hands. Sorry, Tom Brady – my miracle is better.

God has been laughing pretty hard at my plans lately. This week, I learned that He is not laughing at me. He is laughing with me. I have decided to laugh right along with Him.

As I held the most precious creature I have ever seen (since the last precious creature I held 23 years ago), I thought back to the gospel reading at my father’s funeral mass. It was from John 14. Thomas asked Jesus how they could follow Him when they did not know where He was going. Jesus replied that “I am the way…No one comes to the Father but by me.”

Every day, we are being shown the way. We just don’t look closely enough.

“It’s raining, but there ain’t a cloud in the sky.

Must have been a tear from your eye.

Everything will be OK.”

Every day, the universe unfolds before us and shows us where to go. Those we love are guiding us. Those we lost are watching over us. We fight them instead of accepting them.

“I thought I felt a sweet summer breeze.

Must have been you sighing so deep.

Don’t worry, we’re going to find our way.”

As usual – from the first Christmas through February 6, 2017 at 3:04 am and through countless times in between – it is a child that shows us the way. It is a child who opens our eyes to the miracle that is every… single… day. I wished that she could have met her great grandfather. Then, I realized – she did. I wished she could have known her great grandmother. Then, I realized – she always has.

“I’m waiting. Waiting on a sunny day.

Gonna chase the clouds away.

Waiting on a sunny day.”

As I held Penelope Francis in my arms, I looked out the window and saw all of the rain falling outside.

I just laughed.

Michael C. Marcon is the founder & CEO of Equity Risk Partners and former chairman of the Ursinus College board of trustees. He tweets from @mcm7464. Tweet him any of your questions about business, leadership or life.