“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” – from chapter 2 of Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden”
Where did I discover that gem? Family Guy, of all places. It was quoted in the most recent episode, so naturally I had to look it up. I am not a huge fan of Henry David Thoreau. He is a little too hippyish for me. But this passage spoke to me. This blog post is a little different than the norm. It’s not about business per se or the stock market. Instead it’s about why I quit my job with KPMG and subsequently with the State of Louisiana to run Booth-Laird full time.
I think it can be readily accepted that the woods in this passage is a metaphor. Substitute it with whatever you want to. To me, the woods is whatever challenge you want to take on in life but may be afraid to. It could mean starting a business, starting a family, moving to a new country, etc.
The point of the passage, I believe, is that you don’t want to look back on your life when you are at the end of it and have significant regrets. I was in public accounting for 3 years but had 2 major aspirations for my life. One was to be governor of Louisiana and subsequently president of the United States. The other was to start my own company and build it into a long-lasting legacy.
So I left KPMG to start down one path, which was the presidential track. I took a job as the Assistant Director of State Economic Competitiveness, a subgroup of the Louisiana Department of Economic Development. My group was tasked with helping to shape the economic policy of Louisiana along with a long list of other things. After 11 months at this position, after seeing up close how legislators work and what really drives politicians’ decisions, I realized, somewhat sadly, that it was not for me. I could not make the compromises and false promises necessary to be a politician. So I left to pursue my other lifelong dream, the one that I had really worked towards for years, which was to run my own company full time and to build it into a long-lasting legacy.
As Thoreau so eloquently put, I wished to live deliberately. I wished to take control of my life, confront the challenges head on, and, at the risk of sounding cliche, follow my dreams.
I now have no doubt that when I come to die, I will discover that I have most certainly lived.
Jonathan Booth, CEO