Whenever people talk about investments, the name Warren Buffet often comes to mind. With more than $81 billion in assets, he is everyone’s image of the quintessential investor. And he gives yearly investment seminars in Omaha, Nebraska, on his investment philosophy. Thousands attend.
But Buffett is only one kind of investor. The truth is, we’re all investing. Even those of us without money.
We’re investing our time. Our attention. Our thought. We’re investing our lives! And the topic of investing brings to mind a friend of mine, Henry Fuhrmann.
Fuhrmann isn’t a particularly close friend. I first ran across him at a gathering several years ago. We hit if off and had a long congenial conversation. Afterward he sent me a nice card and a coffee mug from the Los Angeles Times, where he was one of the editors.
We ran across each other several times after that and continued our friendship.
So I was shocked recently to read his obituary in the paper. He was very young, 65, and had just retired to an active second career of college teaching and writing.
I was equally surprised by the tone of the obituary and the letters that flooded in as a response. Their stories were all very similar. At some point in the letter-writers’ life. they had been struggling to find a direction, or been discouraged, or needed advice, or just needed a friendly ear, and Fuhrmann had offered them his time and kindness. And person after person remarked about his kindness. Not one letter failed to mention it! And each of the letter-writers, like me, had also received his signature coffee mug. It was an amazing tribute to an exemplary life.
Henry Fuhrmann had a definite investment philosophy.
Over his lifetime, Henry Fuhrmann invested the gift of kindness in a staggering number of people. There’s not a Dow Jones Industrials to measure that sort of investment. But it adds up. There’s a compound-interest-of-the-spirit that operates with kindness.
All too often in our angry, fallen world, kindness seems more notable by its absence that by its presence. But there are glimmerings of hope:
Source: Adam Nemeroff/Unsplash
Recently, Google published its Year In Search magazine., exploring the topics people searched for in the preceding year. Google noted that, in 2022, over twice as many people in the United States searched for the topic “How to be Kind” than for the topic “How to be Popular.”
Twice as many people!
And at UCLA, the College of Arts and Sciences has just opened the UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute. The Institute is dedicated to the research, education, and practice of kindness.
So there may be a scintilla of hope for us yet.
At any point along the way, if you are re-assessing your investment program, consider the example of Henry Fuhrmann, who showered people far and wide with his investment of kindness.
And, if you choose to follow his example, I salute you with a toast from my Henry Fuhrmann kindness coffee mug!
© David Evans 2023