Public Domain. Source: Wikimedia
That’s the secret to the success of many major consumer products. Coca-Cola was created when someone accidentally added carbonation to medicinal syrup. Play-Doh was supposed to be a wallpaper cleaner. Toothpaste started as a homemade powder made from salt and burnt bread, but then someone noticed Parisian artists squeezing their pigments out of lead tubes, and so they put the toothpaste into the tube.
In his famous commencement address at Stanford, Steve Jobs tells how the idea for proportionally-spaced fonts in the original Macintosh came to him. He had dropped out of Reed College, but he continued to audit courses that looked interesting. One of these was calligraphy. He was captivated by the beautiful, subtle way that great typography can subtly convey meaning and mood in a text. 10 years later he designed the Mac to have a beautiful typeface – one that gave users choices they never thought they’d have or want. The rest is history.
It’s important to diversify: not just our investment portfolios, but our lives, as well. And not just to better our returns, but to improve our outlook. Watching a beautiful sunset or the listening to the poetry of Keats or the Psalms can give us a new perspective. Thomas Jefferson had paintings and illustrations throughout his home; he was also an accomplished musician. It can’t be proven, but music and art probably helped him to be a better writer and more able administrator. And they certainly added to his pursuit of happiness.
We can’t connect the dots in our lives when we try to envision the future; we can only see patterns looking backwards. We need to balance work, family, health, and our spirits. We may never get a lucky break. But when our lives are rich, we don’t need luck.
Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Charter Trust Company
“The Best Trust Company in New England”