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2014 – A Year to be of Service to Others

by on January 05, 2014 8:00 AM

I am sitting at my desk in my office pondering the year gone by, the new year ahead of us as well as my own personal calendar rolling over yet another year.

What is clear from the vantage point of over seventy years is that we are all in this experience called life together.

Little or nothing of what we do or say or create will live very far beyond our own lives or the lives of our immediate successors. Our personal influence wanes as time passes and soon the memory of who we were and what we held dear is gone and replaced by the notions of the newest generations.

In Belgian novelist Marguerite Yourcenar’s book, “Memories of Hadrian”, Hadrian pondered whether being Emperor of Rome mattered at all in the long run. You might recall that Hadrian oversaw the construction of a 73 mile long wall in England begun in 122 A.D. and built over the course of six years. It was built for both political and military reasons. In the days of Hadrian things changed little from generation to generation. Successive generations were equally impoverished and short lived.

In the generations that started around three hundred years ago (a drop in the bucket of human history), technology began to change the condition of human existence for the better.

Lifespans lengthened and living conditions became much more pleasant for a great swath of humanity. My maternal grandmother was born in 1880, when female life expectancy was about 45 years. She lived to age 85. Today people are living even longer lives.

A dear longtime family friend passed away recently at the age of 106. The technology that enables us to live longer comes with the need to accumulate capital to accomplish things one person’s wealth alone could not accomplish. Capitalism and the investment markets were born as a result. Now we have bustling investment markets trading both stocks and bonds and the many investment products derived from those two source investments.

We seem to live longer and more comfortably than ever before. Yet, in the day to day events of humanity we seem to bumble and stumble from failure to failure in the short run, still all the while making progress to a better, more prosperous and longer existence. Hadrian would be amazed at what we can accomplish today.

For most of us, making a lasting mark on the world that will be remembered by many generations is just not in the cards. Of course, each of us has the ability to make a contribution to those around us by taking care of the concerns of others. While many folks have jobs and do them well, they are less concerned with others than fulfilling the job requirement while they are on the job.

Others have careers and are known for overseeing the concerns of others 24/7 because that is who they are. I define who I am by my life-long career as an investment advisor. What I can do is take care of the concerns of those who have entrusted me to watch, advise and manage their investments. It is an honor for me. This is my father’s legacy to me and mine to the third generation of Nestlerode & Loy folks as carried on by Judy Loy.

In addition, I continue to work on an investment book that is between being written & copyrighted and published. Perhaps my impact through my book will live on after I am gone.

At this stage in life I have drifted toward paying more attention to my legacy for my company, associates, clients and family. I would guess it is the natural progression from childhood, through teenage years, young adulthood, middle age and now senior member of both management and family.

It is being of service to others that gives meaning to life. So as we jump into 2014, it is our commitment to pay attention to the investment markets and bring our expertise and assistance to others in our efforts to be of service. It is the most important work I can imagine.

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Dan Nestlerode is the Director of Research and Portfolio Management at Nestlerode & Loy Investment Advisors in State College. A graduate of Penn State University, Nestlerode has been an investment advisor since 1965. He can be reached at danielj@nestlerode.com.
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