A variation of this question has come up on a few dates and several late night, alcohol induced, heart-to-heart conversations. Each time, no matter how many times I’m asked this question, I always give a different answer. I don’t have a boilerplate answer like I do for many other questions. So I’m always caught off guard and say something like, “I want to be known as a good guy” or something banal like that. I need a better answer, one that is more profound and memorable. Here are the things I want people to think of when they think about me.
Kind & Loving -
I am naturally a kind person. I don’t have to make a point of trying to be nice. Some people view this as a weakness. Others find it endearing. But I will never apologize for my kindness. It’s who I am. I also want people to remember me as a loving person. Someone thats loves his family and friends and values these relationships.
Generous is an extension of kindness. There are two main things people can be generous with, their time and money. While I don’t have a lot of money right now, but I have taken initial steps to be generous with what I have. That’s why my friends and I created the Knights of Waukesha Scholarship. We distribute one, $500 scholarship a year to a high school senior from our home city. It’s not a huge amount of money, but it’s a good first step to a long life of philanthropy.
Time is everyone’s finite resource. That’s why we highly value our time. But some people value their time too much. I’ve had people tell me that I’m lucky to be talking to them, because their time is worth $1,000 an hour. Lame. Pay it forward. Take the coffee meeting with the unknown kid. Not everyone you meet with has to make you money or introduce you to someone powerful. Offer advice to the next generation’s leaders. I’m still the guy who is trying to secure meetings with individuals more powerful than I, but I still take meetings with young professionals looking for guidance. I might not be able to offer all the knowledge in the world, but I have accumulated a considerable amount of experience and wisdom to pass on. So don’t be a dick and be generous with your time.
Admittedly, I’m not as adventurous as I once was. But that doesn’t mean that person still doesn’t live within me. I love adventures. Like when I was traveling abroad, I spent a few days in the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia. I met a girl from Canada and we decided to travel with each other. Instead of heading back south like I was planning, we decided to go north. We ended up in Penang and Langkawi. It was a great experience, one that I would have never enjoyed if I wasn’t up for an adventure.
Everyone knows that I’m driven. I want to succeed. But…that doesn’t just mean career and money. Yes, I want those things, but like everyone says, success is relative. Finding someone to share my life with would be a success. Traveling to exotic countries would be a success. Mentoring a kid to reach her professional goals would be a success. But just being happy with my life and not worried about what I don’t have or the future would be the ultimate success.
The last word I want people to think of when they describe me is “awesome.” It can be in whatever context our relationship is in, but I want them to think, “That Jesse Bouman if fucking awesome.” They could be referring to my choice in shoes, ability to boil an egg, or my dodgeball skills. Whatever it is, I want to be remembered as awesome.