I recently listened to your engaging and introspective podcast with Tim Ferriss, and I said I’d take you up on your offer to send you an interesting story about life. I first came across your unique and brilliant style of thinking and communicating when I worked with Mohamed El-Erian at PIMCO, and we had the luxury to hear you speak at one of our secular forums.

Before you continue to read on, I must provide full disclosure. There is a small bet behind my motive (but this is not the prime motive mind you) – my best friend, Tony, didn’t think I would get a response, so we wagered a mind-staking $1 bet on this. However, me been a shrewd Irish operator, I managed to get 2/1 odds. So if I win this bet, I whole-heartedly promise to give you one of the two dollars won!

A Mother’s Unconditional Love

Frances, my mum, who is one of 15 children, reared her three boys basically by herself. From waking up at 6 am to cook dinners for us before breakfast as she would be working late and not be home at dinner time, to spending any disposable dollar (pound back then in Ireland) on our education and sports, this is a person I am most fortunate to call my mum.

The most recent example of her brilliance as a mum and a person, came recently while I was back in my native rural Ireland for 10 weeks. At the end of a year sabbatical from work, I suppose I was trying to figure it out; I think this is a constant in life but at our different chapters, its meaning and weight changes for some. Without knowing she was doing so, she retaught me economics, both home- and generally in life, the importance of to-do lists (she’d make me write done the night before what I had to get done the next day), cutting my cloth according to my means and the importance and enjoyment of the simple things in life. The best part of the day was after dinner, to which I would often cook for her (in a way trying to repay her for all the meals she had made for us growing up), and we’d just watch simple Irish terrestrial tv, with a turf fire burning.

One evening in, while the fire was in full swing, I said I think I’ll get a dog when I return to Chicago. She looks at me as says, “you’d want to learn to look after yourself first!” I give her a pondering look, to which she quick-as-a-whip responds, “you haven’t learned to put the toilet seat up yet in life . . . .no wonder you can’t keep a woman!” Not afraid to always call it as it is, however, always with unconditional love.

After numerous weeks of asking me to paint the house, I begin. Off to a good start, the Irish rain unsurprisingly starts. She comes around the side of the house and orders me inside not to get wet. I tell her it will make me grow (I’m 5′ 9″ and a half in height, the shortest of the three sons). Continuing, I get to the front of the house. The next thing surprises me. But it didn’t. There is my mum, 5′ 2”, nearly at the pensionable age of 66, on a ladder, just about wedged in the wet grass, cleaning out the roof gutters by the porch. I look at her. She looks at me. “What in Gods name are you doing up a ladder, in the pouring rain?” “Cleaning out the gutters” Fran replies as if I asked her something like what’s for dinner. I tell her I’m walking off the worksite immediately if she doesn’t get down of the vintage ladder and back inside. She sees the non-negotiable look in my eyes. Here again, she is not doing anything but being herself, leading by example and getting things done. Although she didn’t think I would catch her on the ladder.

At the tender age of 33, I learned that a mother’s unconditional love never stops. It only grows stronger. Sometimes we forget this, the things that made us grow and be who we are, are always a call away when we need them. But often, in this journey of life, we try and solve our own problems – a kind of conditioning we think we always need to have. Don’t forget a mother’s unconditional love. This is what more than anything, my most recent stay in Ballysheedy Manor taught me.


Now, back to the all important $1 bet. If by the small chance this email gets to you, and you find it in your busy schedule to read it, please consider helping me make a buck! So the odds were 2/1 (Tony is a shrewd Wall Street trader) as I need you to read the story in your truly engaging cadence (even if only in an audio message so I can play for Fran) to win!

As mentioned above, I am more than happy to share this potential wealth with you if I win! A collective win shared is always better than an individual accomplishment. The easiest way for me to do this will probably be Venmo, so if you do reply, please do include your cell no. for me to send you the $1 via Venmo. Then if someone ever asks me the question, who is the most famous person in your phonebook, I can reply Arianna Huffington!

Is mise le meas,


P.S. – If I don’t get a reply, I won’t be offended. At the very least, I have written about something that is important to me, and it had been a while since that happened.