TetheredMay 13, 2022
My week has been a cocktail of layoffs, margin calls, and Covid. How’s your week going?
Markets are down, the risk of nuclear war is up and, worst of all, it looks as if Cumrocket will not replace the dollar. Professor Adam Alter, my colleague at NYU, says dramas perform best in good times and comedies in bad. So I don’t want to read more bad news … much less write into its shadow. The nitrous oxide (love nitrous) for most bad weeks is a small dose of perspective administered while awake/aware.
One shortcut to this perspective for me is to think about my parents. They’ve both had good lives, but when it comes to opportunities presented as a function of where and when a person was born, I am from a different planet. I saw my dad this week. He is 91, and the paths of conversation are getting narrower and fewer. His favorite: He asks me about my life. The things people pay me for (to speak in front of an audience); how much they pay (a lot); the school field trips my boys take (the Grand Canyon); and that I have a TV show (didn’t tell him the plug was pulled). It used to bother/upset me that he’d ask the same questions over … and over. I then realized it’s just fine, good even, if he finds joy from the same thing.
But, inevitably, I think more often about my mom and the self-worth she instilled in me. The following was written five years ago, when we had fewer than 5,000 subscribers, which means there is a 2% chance you’ve already read it. It felt good writing it, and I hope it does the same for you reading it.
[The following was originally published on August 25, 2017.]
In relationships, I’ve gotten so much wrong, with so many people, for so long. With romantic partners, I focused on managing the person, vs. being honest and open, creating an uneasy calm interrupted by shock and disappointment. Professionally, I’ve expected employees to be loyal, as … well, I’m just so fucking awesome — instead of investing in understanding their objectives and calibrating my efforts to address our mutual aspirations.
One place I’ve gotten it right with the people most important to me: affection. I rub my boys’ ears and backs, brush their hair, and roughhouse with them so as to demonstrate my strength, for about a second, and then collapse on them and begin kissing and tickling them. I’ve recorded several minutes of us wrestling, specifically the sound my boys make when they burst into joyous, uncontrollable laughter. This will be the last thing I hear on this planet — I’ve prepared for this.
In contrast, at work, I’m less affectionate than Darth Vader. I work with people on average 20 years younger than me, and the thought of creeping somebody out with an unwelcome hug or hand on their shoulder, in a professional situation, is horrific to me. As a result, I don’t even like to shake hands.
Affection exchange theory, introduced by Professor Kory Floyd, postulates that affection strengthens bonds, provides access to resources, and communicates your potential as a parent, increasing your pool of potential mates. I think it goes even deeper. I know a lot of people who, despite their good fortune, are wandering. Few meaningful relationships, an inability to find reward in their professional lives, too hard on themselves, etc. It’s as if they’re not grounded, never convinced of their worth … wandering.
When I look at my own success, it boils mostly down to two things: being born an American and having someone irrationally passionate about my success (my mom). Though she was raised in a household where there was little affection, my mom couldn’t control herself with her son. For me, affection was the difference between hoping someone thought I was wonderful and worthy, and knowing it.
Every Wednesday night after Boy Scouts, my mom and I would go to dinner at Junior’s Deli on Sepulveda Boulevard in Culver City. I would have the brisket dip, she the lox, eggs, and onions. We talked about our week — we didn’t see each other much in between weekends — only to be interrupted by different waitresses, who would comment on how much I had grown. On the way out, we’d stop at the bakery and buy a quarter pound of halvah. As we stood in the parking lot waiting for the valet to retrieve our lime-green Opel Manta, my mom would grab my hand and, in an exaggerated fashion, swing it back and forth. She’d look at me, and I’d return her gaze with an eye roll, at which point she would burst out in joyous, uncontrollable laughter. She loved me so much …
Having a good person express how wonderful you are hundreds of times changes everything. College, professional success, an impressive mate — these were aspirations, not givens, for a remarkably unremarkable kid in an upper-lower-middle-class household. My mom was 43, single, and making $22,000 a year as a secretary. She was also a good person who gave me the confidence, while waiting for our Opel, to feel connected, and to believe I had value — that I was capable and deserving of all these things. Holding hands and laughing, I was tethered.
Life is so rich,
Absolutely fantastic… Loved it. Thanks for sharing.
I’ve heard you talk about your mother, and your children, many times on your podcast and I love it.
This is very touching. I had a mother whose love was entirely conditional. I’ve tried many times to remember her even once giving me a hug…it just wasn’t in her DNA. I often wonder what my life would be like if I had had the unconditional love that a mother is supposed to have for their child.
5 years later, and still one of your most inspiring posts. THANK YOU, Scott.
Damn it, you made me tear up.
A son who carries his mother’s unconditional fierce love is rich indeed. A man who is proud to talk about it enriches us all.
Beautiful, funny, insightful, true! Love the LA landmarks, Prof G, Pivot and all things Scott:). Yes, life is so rich. Thank you, Scott!
Good to see you’ve been doing a little thinking before you type lately.
I just saw Psychology Today’s first take on the Buffalo shootings.
They commissioned a humor piece. That wouldn’t even have been a good idea if it were funny.
Gina Barreca just came up with a few new insults for people who are alone and struggling, like that would be helpful in the wake of a mass murder.
I’m not sympathetic toward a mass murderer, but I’m not sympathetic toward someone who’s patting herself on the back for escalating the name calling and hurt in a lot of lives, either.
In Japan, hikikomori have been speaking out about the insensitive comments made, even in the media, about people who are alone in the wake of shootings.
I’ve been the loner in offices the day after these crimes a few times, and I’ve heard the comments about loners, both from people who knew I hadn’t dated in a while and those who were just clueless.
There are tens of millions of peaceful lonely people who put up with that stuff, and it’s not helpful. I wouldn’t expect it’s very helpful if it reaches an actual potential mass murderer, either.
For the last few years, people have been making all sorts of abusive comments toward people who are online in the wake of these murders. That sort of thing ends up leaching into people’s lives, giving lots of lonely people a bad day right after a mass murder.
Anyone who’s alone gets bathed in vitriol, and that may be a contributing factor to the mass murders, and to suicides as well.
I don’t want anyone who’s alone to get caught up in anger, but I do want to change the toxic atmosphere people who are alone face.
It’s also interesting to note that Milwaukee’s violent weekend was initially reported as one shooting spree, but turned out to be a record-setting aggregate of more mundane homicide. If those murderers turn out to have had more sex, will everyone who’s had sex in the past year be treated like a murderer?
Makes you wonder what else Psychology Today’s editors and writers find hilarious, doesn’t it?
I love that you record that moment… I love my sons cackle… nothing more I love hearing
Its a good way to start the week, definitely makes a difference.
Thanks for sharing.
Good one as always. Always enjoy your endings specifically.
Thank you for sharing this, it was beautiful to read.
Even better the second time…Should be an annual read/reminder.
I too, knew only love growing up. Life is so rich alright Scott.
Your Mom’s love and belief in you made all the difference in your life.
that made me cry,
Makes me smile on the inside
I like it….
Loved this short, poignant piece on the importance of “having a good person express how wonderful you are hundreds of times changes everything.”
Galloway, you are making my eyeballs leak, again. Great bromide for a rough week.
Your mother’s explicit affection is such a beautiful lesson and reminder for me who is coming from very passive Japanese culture. I just promised myself to share countless expression with my daughter. Thank you.
Thank you for writing.
Mom was widowed at an early age. But never gave up …. it seems we have all the time in the world with our moms …. but its shorter then we think. Love this post!
I’ve been quarantined with my 9yo nephew for the past week – both of us sick, but high on grilled cheese, video games, lots of cuddles and laughter. Thank you for sharing your story, I suspect I’ll look back on some of these special covid memories as some of the best.
Beautiful. It’s a few lucky people who are able to receive and feel this type of unconditional love. Prof G – Still one of the smartest & insightful people on the internet.
Thank you for sharing. So wonderful to read this as we navigate this changing world as Parents to our children and own “inner children”.
Your Mom totally rocked! 🦋
It was all work until I had my first child, a son, at 59. The twins came at 62. Work lost its primary spot in my life after 45 years. But how to afford four new people (including, of course, the mother, my wife)?
Like Scott, i figured that out, too. I’m a changed man at 74. A long time coming, but better late….
Thank you for sharing.
A wonderfully warm, valuable and humane post of genuine love and affection, and the value of things that are truly valuable. Thank you for writing and revealing all this. Best, Roger.
No matter what else you write or say, Scott, I will love you for this.
I love this one. I had a single mom that made less than $20k a year but she gave me all the confidence in the world. This is a good reminder of what matters.
Generally Moms are the glue that holds us together.
Lovely. Thank you.
Wonderful piece. Swinging your hands together memorable. My daughter is the same age as your mother was then.
Have listened to many of your talks , read your books . Enjoyed them .
None connected and moved me as much .
Just lovely- thanks
Thanks – appreciate this guy!
This guy is amazing!
This guy is remarkable!
Just lovely – thank you – put everything in perspective- our day to day existence IS our existence- and affection / love is everything
I love the depth, the warmth, the honesty, the learning. Life is so rich. A pleasure to read.
My mom and I used to go to Junior’s, but I have to correct you: it was on Westwood Boulevard just north of Pico. And I ordered the lox, eggs, and onions as well.
I lost my Mum 45 years ago, I know the feeling.
I love this. Thank you for sharing!
That was very sweet. And damn you, you made me miss my mom.
Who the hell’s chopping onions around here..
I always enjoy Scott’s raw honesty and emotions whether in his writing or speaking, and I was touched to read his thoughts about his parents, particularly his mom. We only realize these important events about our folks when we’re older, as I did recently after losing both of my parents. I even published a book where my dedication read:
With a dedication to my Dad, who, without noticing, taught me so much in life by his example, and to my Mom, who, while noticing, instilled in me the love, passion, confidence, and empathy that I still possess today.
If you accept the premise that fear is a greater motivator than opportunity for gain, then, in that context, you can begin to understand the devastating effects of a litigious society on personal relationships in the workplace. For now, the at home ‘family’ remains one of the few remaining places where it is relatively safe to express affection, as long as, even there, it is done in socially acceptable and politically correct ways. It seems to me that the notion of a workplace ‘family’ has largely disappeared. I wonder how many people recognize this, and how long this current state of relative safety within the at home ‘family’ will last. 1984?
You reminded me of how much I miscalculated my mother’s love for me when I was young and “feelin’ myself” as the old folks say. In later years, I realized her tremendous love for me came in the form of never judging my choices, rather than in hugs and kisses.
I miss her dearly.
This is a great post. Sometimes, we need to stop focusing on what’s going wrong and focus on what’s going right. Your mom did enough right to plant some confidence in your soul. I hope my sons say something as meaningful that about me. They are my most important job and my true success will be forever tethered to their souls.
Fucking awesome post. So simple. So right on.
Opel Manta! Your mom was stylish as well as wise.
Lovely! You do so well with these positive thoughts. Keep them coming please.
Scott thanks for sharing, and warmly reminding me/us of the “intimate moments” in all our lives. I believe we choose our families and draft story when we enter this life (without knowing our script word for word), however the base model (us) is significantly accessorized and enhanced when you add love, touch, conversation and importantly laughter. As you say – “Life is Rich!” and it is also very short, so living it whilst absorbing the experience and recalling special memories is exhilarating.
Damn. That’s simply awesome.
Very uplifting. As a working parent I am often on calls when I am picking my youngest child from school, but I always make sure to kiss and touch him affectionally even while I am jabbering away about some territory review (that was today). He smiles and we hold hands while we walk home. It’s nice to hear hopefully when he is an adult it will have made a difference. I can’t ever be at school plays, or volunteer in the classroom, but I always want them (I have 4 boys) to know they are inherently valuable and unconditionally loved. Thanks for sharing this post.
My best friends parents had an opel manta what a classic we drove that thing all throughout new england on road trips it wouldn’t die.
Thanks Scott. I’m going to record and wrestle my 10 year old asap. That last wish is gold.
Wonderful description of your experience with tethering but, for me I suggest that it goes both ways. You learn/know what you want to take from your own childhood and be a better parent using that knowledge. As you guide your growing child with those intentions, you not only want the child to be tethered to you but also to be able to stand on their own, independent and secure in their abilities. Their desire to fly on their own and still enjoy/want to be tethered to or in the company of their mom and dad should be the aspirational goal of every parent (I include grandparents, aunts, uncles, step-additions in that overall umbrella).
Now you have done it. You made me cry.
I loved what you wrote. My son is also a professor at NY and has been for 20 years. My wife, three children, their spouses and now 7 grandchildren 22 years to 5 months give me all the joy I need – what a wonderful life….thanks again for sharing part of yours. Mike
Can you imagine how few the world’s problems would be, and how much easier they would be to solve if every kid was given the adults that they deserve?
I wasn’t of the original 2% but I’m very fortunate to have discovered this subsequently. What a great, touching mom story. I miss mine — and the knowing someone who so wrongly believed I could do no wrong.
What a wonderful post! I had the same type of Mom. All of my success, personal and professional, I attribute to her and the love she showed me on a daily basis and the example she set in her interactions with others. We’re two lucky guys Scott!
I’ll always remember telling my mum I wanted to study at Oxford. She smiled and told me to go for it. I told my dad and he laughed. My dad was right, of course I couldn’t get the grades to get into Oxford. But that belief, every day for 18 years, was more important than anything else.
Thanks Scott, I lost my mom a few weeks ago at the age of 92. I’m grateful to have had that kind of unconditional love for nearly 70 years! That is what rich is!
Your weekly emails are the only ones I read in a sea of marketing, tech, blah blah blah news and information. Love your insights, honesty and love for your family. Thanks for keeping it real and making my Fridays!
Hey Scott. I’ve been a long time follower (audio and blog). This was your best post so far. Thanks
Thanks for the sunny post in an otherwise cloudy week
Scott, another poignant jewel, in the league of my all-time fave, “Love Persevering.” Thank you. Keep making life rich.
Thanks for releasing my tears today. This is precious. Mom of 2 boys.
This is wonderful
Envious. My mom literally tethered me to a tree so as to not stray too far. Throughout her life of almost 90 years, she was unhappy, bitter, controlling; bordering upon evil. But, without the foundation you’ve built upon, I’ve done remarkably well. It’s nice to to build upon rock, but sometimes sand works as well.
Hey Scott, as a Scotsman and at the same stage as you in life, a self employed workaholic! I really enjoy your insights about parenthood and find myself trying to be better a dad. Keep sharing these pearls of wisdom! In my youth I was a big Rangers fan, back in the John Greig/Derek Johnston days. Are you serious about buying a stake in the club?
Kids and employees are the same as they need support and love to grow and be independent
I don’t even expect employees to be loyal to me but to their families
Kids too; one day they will rather hang out w their friends not their parents. We all know that!
The most successful people I know are because their families and upbringing not the school they went to or the wasted private school dollars
Agree w you as well on higher education
Finally know you have been writing about housing and love to see you cover boxabl
Full disclosure I did invest in them and believe housing is too expensive and will end badly
This: “I know a lot of people who, despite their good fortune, are wandering. Few meaningful relationships, an inability to find reward in their professional lives, too hard on themselves, etc. It’s as if they’re not grounded, never convinced of their worth … wandering.“ This is almost everyone I know, myself included. Good bless you and your Mom. Thanks for the inspirational articles every week. Peace.
Lime-green Opal!!! My single mom’s car too!!! We’re almost siblings!!!!!
Thanks for sharing this thought. You are SO right …. that demonstration of affection is majorly important !
Scott, Juniors was Westwood Blvd.
Lovely piece of writing and wisdom. As usual.
Less words, more hugs. Took me too long. Though never too late to start. Beautifully written.
I was part of the 5,000, but it still reads nicely and ironically even more so in 2022.
I swear its the dust in my eyes that’s causing them to water 😉 The bonds between Mothers and Sons. Thank you Scott for reminding us of perspective and sharing from the heart.
That’s beautiful. Thanks for sharing (again). I wasn’t a subscriber 5 years ago 🙂
Very good choice for today, maybe most days. Thank you.
Thank you Scott.
A mother’s love is priceless. You have been very fortunate to have had it and, more importantly, to have been aware of it!
I like a lot what you do and these were a few very good, honest and interesting lines; if you could do the same but take out some of the posturing, you would be ready for a great book. After so many successsful years , both in your videos and words you still cannot avoid posturing…
You don’t have to do so anymore.
I needed this today! thank you! It’s hard to know what those darn kids are thinking behind the eye rolls. I am hopeful they also feel tethered!
Thank you for this — and for not letting your success get in the way of your humanity. This is the content I mash subscribe for.
Read this the first time and enjoyed reading it again. Thank you for your honesty, vulnerability and talent in expressing both in words.
Thanks Scott, this was just what I needed today. Gonna hug the kids extra tonight and remember those supportive words for them.
You’re a good man. So you’re a reflection of her, and no doubt your father too. Thanks for sharing. I’m a septuagenarian, and focus a lot of healthy attention on how to, not only exit gracefully, but also with no burdensome, unresolved personal baggage. I’m thinking it’s only natural.
Darn allergies -? My eyes are still watering. Thank you so much for validating my heart strings are still attached. What a blessing to read and feel. Happy Friday the 13th the day of the divine feminine.
Scott, this is wonderful. To me it is my dad, giving me all you described about your mother. I always did not only FEEL he’d always be there, I KNEW that at least one person always believed in me and will continue to do so as long as he will breathe.
In my early 40ies I had depressions and remember him saying „If you are four, fourteen or forty does not at all matter to me. When YOU are feeling bad, I always hoped, that I could take it away from you or help you in any way…“ I believe, he virtually saved my life, at least contributed a lot.
Last year he turned 80 and I told him, he always remained to be my hero. His answer was, that to him I was the hero by what I achieved within the last years. I don’t look at myself this way, just happy, he is still around…
The Opel Manta…that was buried very deep in my skull… thanks for reviving that memory!
Awesome article, cherish it all while you can people.
Thank you for re-sharing this post which I just read for the first time. I love so much about it – your ability to be introspective, the love ov your mother, the importance of praising others, and I especially love the idea of recording your children’s laughter so that it’s the last thing you hear in your life. Considering your dad’s longevity, I hope that is a long time away for you. I have recordings of my granddaughters laughing uncontrollably at various times. Your idea inspired me, and I am certain, so many.
A beautiful tribute to you Mom!
I am convinced you are one of the best people on the planet. Can not be told otherwise. I think of you like I think of Mark Cuban on shark tank. Zero reasons he has to do Shark Tank but by doing it he inspires tens of thousands of people to start businesses and to go for it. You do the same with your human nature. You are smart, honest and most of all have a caring heart. A big fan of Scott Galloway and you deserve everything you got in this world.
Echoing the choice to read your newsletter out of the barrage of emails we receive daily. I described your newsletter to a client today as the most insightful combination ever pieced together of emotion, reflection, story telling and business. As an educator and administrator at Columbia Business School, a doctoral candidate, and executive coach, I cite your work often. Thank you for what you put out there, Scott. F-ing amazing stuff!
I’m finally in the 2% of something! 😬
This pulled my heart strings—again. Such a lovely tribute to your mom. Wonderful, warm words to usher in the weekend. ❤️
Good time for a healthy perspective…well said.
Where can I buy my <2% t-shirt??
Thank you for this!
It’s great to read this post again. It made me think about my relationships with my mom all those years ago, and has done the same again. Thanks for sharing. Gratitude is a great way to appreciate perspective!