Days after Thanksgiving in 2004 I started working at KPMG’s New York Office for their Information Risk Management (IRM) practice. That changed my life completely in man ways. One of the biggest benefits I have been able to carry along are my current closest friends are tied to me being a KPMG Alumni.
Just after Sarbanes Oxley had kicked in I ended up working in one of the Firm’s strategic areas helping out the Project Management Office in the logistics of putting the adequate resources at the right place.
I was so excited to be working at Park Avenue in New York City and the great people I had around me that I would wake up at 4:30 am every morning to make sure I could make it into the office before 7:20am (I had an almost 2 hour train ride from CT to NYC). I wanted to have a head start every day into the new competitive environment I had just joined.
I really enjoyed sitting on the train in the mornings and reading a book for part of the ride and preparing for my day. Since I arrived so early I was never in a rush and always spent the first few minutes entering 345 Park Avenue and chatting with my friend Manram for a few minutes every morning. Manram was one of the individuals which kept us safe in the building. We had similar interests since he was from Guyana and had the same love for the Caribbean that I do.
In one of those many chats with Manram he introduced me to Eugene O’Kelly (Gene). Gene also chatted with Manram at about the same time every day when he was in the office. I had the privilege of taking the elevator on multiple occasions and making small talk about the weather and other current events with Gene. Weeks after I met Gene I bumped into him with some of my peers. Gene as always addressed me by my first name like with did most mornings in which we bumped into each other. The people on my team where a bit confused and started interrogating me on my relationship with Gene. They could not believe that I had been working for such a short time at the firm at one of the lowest levels and Gene was talking to me on a first name basis. At that same moment I was informed by a colleague what Gene was the CEO and Chairman of KPMG LLP at the moment.
After learning Gene was the CEO I occasionally bumped into him when he was at the office and he always treated me very well. His energy was something that really caught my attention every time I interacted with him.
One of the Saddest Emails
Months later I received an email via our KPMG internal communications stating that Gene was stepping down from his position as CEO because he had been diagnosed with Cancer. Gene’s days had been counted. I had seem him in the office before the email and I could tell something was wrong since he seemed to have lost his spark.
On every occasion I interacted with Gene he emitted a large amount of positive energy that day I did not get that feeling.
Gene decided to prepare for his upcoming death by writing Chasing Daylight: How My Forthcoming Death Transformed My Life (amazon affiliate link). Every firm employee was granted a copy once it was published and I had the privilege to receive mine.
I read Chasing Daylight and it changed quickly changed my perspective on my short and long term goals. I realized I was so focused on things that where not making me completely happy. Since then I have focused each and every day to make sure I make the most out of my days and that I am happy with what I do.
Chasing Daylight influenced my decision into moving back to Puerto Rico where I don’t have to deal with winter and many other things I did not like.
I really saw what was important in life years later being the new Dad of @danielalcolon I realize the importance of the Circle Gene Drew in his book regarding the order he set up to say goodbye to the people important in his life:
Gene not only gave me energy every morning I interacted with him but he extended his influence even after he left this world. I wish I could have thanked Gene for taking his last moments and making sure I started Chasing Daylight as early as possible. I have been able to really enjoy many perfect moments thanks to the level of awareness he instilled in me via this book.
Are you going after your goals? What are you doing to improve your life and the things you do daily?
I protect my gear with Otterbox
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