On my flight to LA recently, I was reading a book which, coincidentally, mentioned some research about living in California. It’s a great book, by the way: Thinking Fast & Slow. I swear it will make you wiser, happier, and richer. The author is a psychologist who won the Nobel Prize in economics. I know he’s wise, and I’ll bet he’s also happy and rich.
According to the “California” research, most Americans believe they would be happier if they lived in California. But the same research found that there is no perceptible difference (on average) between the happiness of Californians and that of other Americans – California’s climatic advantages get lots of attention, but they are not important determinants of actual happiness for most people. The lessons? (a) People often forecast poorly the extent to which something will actually make them happy (or unhappy); and (b) “Nothing in life is as important (in terms of making you happy or unhappy) as you think it will be when you are specifically thinking about it.” The lesson also applies to new cars, lost loves, having kids, amputations, and the outcomes of presidential elections or sports championships.
My friends Roger and Kathy Willard may be an exception to that California study. They were not at all convinced they’d be happier in Tinseltown when “work” took them there four years ago, but they seem to be thriving. Roger and Kathy were both friends of mine at Arthur Andersen when I worked there (in OKC) in the 1980s, both were in my wedding in 1992, and then the two of them got married and moved to Houston and lived 2 blocks from me for about 8 years. They are two of the most hard-working, smart, sensible people I know. If I had a big business to manage and you told me I had to pick a married couple to run it, they’re my hands-down pick.
Roger was my “boss”, mentor and hero when I was a new CPA in Oklahoma (in a prior life/millenium); he became a partner at Andersen before its post-Enron demise. Nowadays he travels the earth doing acquisitions for a global engineering firm, then enjoys that sunny SoCal weather by golfing on the weekends year-round. Kathy’s job is the reason they moved to L.A. She’s the CFO of LiveNation (they own Ticketmaster and the House of Blues, for example, and run concert tours for people like Madonna, the Eagles and U2). One dubious claim to fame is that when Charlie Sheen drank “tiger blood” and waved a machete at the paparazzi, he was standing on Kathy’s private office balcony. A much-more-impressive claim to fame is that Billboard Magazine lists her at #3 in its Women In Music list of the most powerful women in the industry. Another magazine listed her as one of three global “CFOs to Watch” in 2012. That’s pretty damn impressive!
Roger and Kathy were nice enough to host me in their home for a few days while I was in LA. (I threatened to become their own private Kato Kaelin). Roger took me to Venice Beach one evening – that’s where I took a lot of these pictures (including the not-so-glamorous “sleeping bag” picture). That’s Roger in the white top and sunglasses (and with Catwoman. That’s NOT him in the red shorts). That’s Kathy in front of the Beverly Hills sign. Did I forget to mention that she’s also a hottie? I followed her to work one morning and made her pose for me in front of that sign, which is about two blocks from her office (the Hollywood sign on the hillside would have been more fitting, but it wasn’t on her path to work.).