I grew up in a fairly small town in Germany. A steel town. A worker’s town. A town where your path was determined at a fairly young age and then usually provided you with a stable and predictable journey. In a way, it’s the German dream. And while I had the best childhood imaginable, I always revolted against the idea of choosing my path so early.
I remember being a little boy, walking home from the soccer fields, talking to myself (I did that quite a bit, still do at times) about what I wanted my life to be like. At some point, an idea began to crystallize.
I wanted to live an interesting life. Not a rich one. Not a long one. And maybe not even an exciting one. But I wanted it to be interesting to one person, and one person only – myself.
So I became somewhat of a serial exchange student, which was the easiest and cheapest way to instill some major variance into your life. England, France, France and eventually the US.
College was a key learning phase for me (it probably should be), as I was introduced to the American dream. Work hard and you can buy a big car, a big house and then a bigger car and a bigger house – no matter where you come from. And then you get to buy a big gun to protect your big house.
Unfortunately, I also learned that people with big cars and big houses tended to not be super interesting, or usually happy either. And if they were, it had nothing to do with houses and cars.
My first major in college was Finance, which gave me the opportunity to work for American Express Financial Services for a year. There I worked for a man who seemed to only care about money and the things he could buy with that money. He was rich, unhappy, unhealthy and supremely uninteresting in my eyes. Heck, he was so uninteresting, I decided to switch majors at the last second and quit a high-paying college job.
Then when I graduated, my first job was once again working for a rich man, who seemed unhealthy, unhappy and generally uninteresting in my eyes. I quit that job in short order and had to confront a major crisis, as I questioned the value of my education and the path I had chosen to-date. My problem was that I had worked in business for the last year and all my supposed role models were squarely uninspiring to me. For about three months, I was planning to become a certified personal trainer and to move to Maui. As you might imagine, my parents were (rightfully) horrified.
Ultimately, thanks to the advice of a couple of brilliant women (Jakki and Mary Ellen), I decided to give business another shot.
At that time, I started a consulting company called The Mario Group and a personal blog called The Mario Blog. I still write on that blog, almost twenty years later.
Sitting in my bartered little room down by the river, I wrote a plan for myself and my life. A manifesto of sorts. And I made the objective of that plan, the tag line of my blog.
The Mario Blog – To Live An Interesting Life
Maybe someday, I’ll publish the full plan, but here it is a nutshell.
To Live An Interesting Life.
- Stay healthy so you can adventure for as long as possible.
- Make good money, from more than one source of income. Remember you can make more money, but can’t get time back.
- Save half of what you earn and invest aggressively while young. The way money compounds is magic. (Thank you Finance)
- Don’t settle just because others think you should.
- Paths less traveled lead to better stories.
Almost twenty years later, I can say that the plan worked. Not without a hitch of course, but it got me the life I wanted to live.
I don’t think everyone needs to live an interesting life. But I do think that everyone should have an idea, a vision, a dream and maybe a plan or manifesto of what they want their lives to be.
Because if you do, it might just come true.