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Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand Six Hundred Minutes

How do you measure? Measure a year?
In daylights,
In sunsets,
In midnights,
In cups of coffee

Seasons of Love” by Jonathan Larson, from the Tony award winning musical Rent

It has been one year.

One year since many of us went into an office or other workplace.

And what a year it has been—one unlike any other in our lives.  A year that forever will be the watershed for the rest of our lives.  A year when the entire world—individually and collectively— experienced something that was previously unthinkable—all at the same time.

There is no way to express the amount of personal loss experienced by so many in the last twelve months.  The staggering statistics obfuscate the individual, personal tragedies from the deaths of so many loved ones.  There is truly no way to measure the amount of loneliness and the degree of emptiness.

And yet here we all are.  We are doing what we do best as people—adapting.

Looking ahead, no one really knows for sure what the world will look like in the days, weeks, months, and years to come.  I choose to mark this occasion with a few personal reflections on how this past year has changed me.  I hope you find them to be helpful.

  1. I am more grateful than ever before
    • Grateful for the time spent with my family.
    • Grateful for the amazing partners, colleagues and teammates that we have at Cowen. 
    • Grateful to our clients and all of our partners
    • Grateful for my health and the health of my loved ones.
    • Grateful for the amazing scientists and companies that produced multiple vaccines for Covid-19 in record time
    • Grateful for the first responders and front-line workers who put themselves at risk every day.
    • Grateful for the Federal Reserve, which quickly provided liquidity to stressed markets in March. Otherwise, the pandemic would have devastated financial markets in ways that might have been irreparable.  Many people may not fully grasp how close we were to that happening.
  2. I am a little more stressed these days, especially with the amount of work there is to be done—perhaps that is because the lines between work and home blurred completely.  It has been harder to balance between the two than ever before.
  3. I feel more vulnerable at times, even though I also feel way more resilient and stronger.
  4. I am upset that the world is more polarized than it used to be, and this past year probably accelerated that.
  5. I am worried about what the future holds for major metropolitan areas such as New York, Boston, San Francisco and London, just to name a few.

So what am I doing with these feelings?

  1. I am expressing gratitude more than I used to—going out of my way to let the people I care about know that I appreciate who they are and everything they do.  Expressing gratitude for the efforts of others might be one of the most meaningful things I do.
  2. I am striving to reduce my stress, by doing things like taking the time to exercise pretty much every day.  I started to better manage my nutrition.  I took up golf.  I am striving every day not to be too hard on myself and on those who love and care about me.  Despite the constant struggle (some days are better than others), I am grateful to be trending in the right direction.
  3. I am acknowledging that there are things outside of my control, like Covid-19.  But I recognize that I can do things to protect myself, my family, my colleagues and others.  All of us have the innate ability to adapt and change, which helps us be less fearful of change and more emboldened to take on the next challenge.
  4. Over the past year I have realized that there is more I could be doing to foster a more inclusive, less polarized world. All of us have that “superpower”—because we all have the ability to turn down the rhetoric and actively listen to each other with greater awareness.  That requires patience and hard work.  But the payoff is greater tolerance and understanding, and that leads to taking real action and realizing more positive outcomes.
  5. Despite worries about the large cities where we operate, we shouldn’t give up on them.  There is a creative energy that comes from human density that cannot be denied.  Cities that can figure out how to reinvent themselves around culture and exude a unique vibe will be the winners.  Those that don’t will have real issues.

My list is far from exhaustive, but it does reflect what has been rattling around in my head now that March 2021 is here. Let’s all take stock and make the time to feel proud of ourselves. None of this has been easy. And yet here we are—even though we are apart.

There is something to be said for that.

Wishing you all more Seasons of Love.

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