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Utah Business

Colomnist, Natalie Gochnour shares her favorite quotes from this past year and discusses what she learned from them.

My Favorite Quotes From 2019

As 2019 winds to a close, I find myself looking back over the past 12 months and wondering, “What have I learned?” As an incessant note taker, one indicator of my “lessons learned” is the collection of quotes I keep on my smartphone from meetings, lectures, and other gatherings. Here are some of my favorites from the past year.

Len Williams is the president and CEO of People’s Utah Bancorp, the largest community-bank holding company in the state of Utah. During a conversation about the state of the economy, he said, “You are a lot better off to arrive at the airport two hours early than five minutes late.” I can’t think of better advice during this cautionary economic period. His insight reminded me that it’s more important to prepare for a downturn than to try and predict the timing of one.

A reporter on FOX News paraphrased Milton Freidman’s famous commentary about the four ways to spend money. Friedman said you can spend your money on yourself, your money on someone else, or someone else’s money on yourself. In each case, you have reason to care about cost, quality, or both. But when you spend other people’s money on other people, cost and quality often don’t matter.  

According to Friedman, this fourth way to spend money is the worst type of spending and it’s what the government does, representing close to 40 percent of our national income. While I believe the government can sometimes improve market outcomes, we should never forget that the government cannot spend anything on anybody without taking money from someone else.

Nick Rimando, who finished his stellar career in 2019, will be remembered as the greatest goalkeeper in Major League Soccer history. He was asked by his son, “What’s the most important play in soccer?” Rimando responded, “The next one.” Ever the strategist and professional, Rimando knows the value of staying focused on the future and not fixating on the past. Jerry Sloan would give similar advice from the Utah Jazz sidelines. After a turnover, he was known to yell, “Play forward!” This advice is as good in life as it is in sports. 

I attended the University of Utah Health’s fall leadership retreat. In this setting, I heard the University of Utah senior vice president, Dr. Michael Good encourage his leadership team to embrace an important principle. Good said, “Come to work each day and make someone else successful.” It made me wonder how incredible the world would be if everyone could practice this principle.

I read two books over the past year by best-selling author and researcher Brené Brown. Her writings inspired me to reflect on openness and trust-building in my life. Brown said, “Trust isn’t a grand gesture. It’s a growing marble collection.” She’s wisely reminding us that trust requires work and grows over time. I had a marble collection in grade school. Each marble was hard-earned through pitching marbles toward the school wall, I had to take chances and be vulnerable. As I kept at it, my marble collection grew, so it is with trusting relationships.

I attended Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road Tour in Salt Lake City this past September. His music inspired me as a young girl and brings back precious memories, still today. At one point during the performance, John commented on how substance abuse nearly ruined his life. Today, Captain Fantastic has been almost three decades sober. He told the audience, “If there is one thing I’ve learned in my life it is the power of love and compassion.” True words from a true star. 

My quote of the year comes from best-selling author, Michael Lewis. Lewis said, “Above all, recognize that if you have had success, you have also had luck, and with luck comes obligation. You owe a debt, and not just to your Gods. You owe a debt to the unlucky.” We live at a time when the bounties of the economy are not shared equally… not even close. In 2020, I’m going to commit to use my education and experience to help the unlucky among us. 

I hope you enjoyed these tidbits. What did you learn in 2019?