Fröhliche Weihnachten to the good people of Boards! This message finds me in the Lufthansa lounge in Frankfurt airport, relaxing before my flight back to Dublin, and the home sod. I’d especially like to thank all the posters who sent me personal messages enquiring as to my whereabouts. I’ll admit that I didn’t have a clue who any of you were, but it’s rather touching that you took the time out of your lives to send me your well wishes.
I also received a small number of extremely abusive messages. Water off a duck’s back, I assure you. I’d suggest these posters take some time out to reflect on why they felt the need to do that, and how they can refocus and reshape that anger into doing something more productive. I don’t like to keep repeating the mantra (if you’ll pardon the pun), but meditation is an invaluable tool for dealing with, and understanding, difficult emotions. Those who spent the year arguing endlessly about the same few topics - may I suggest more mistletoe and less whine in 2018?
I’ve had a pretty extraordinary year, even by my lofty standards. I was recently reviewing a 10 year personal action plan I created at the start of the decade, and 2017 was the year when many of the items in that most ambitious of lists came to pass. At the start of the year I posted on this very forum about my interest in blockchain technology. My investments in Bitcoin and Ethereum were a real rollercoaster this year, and my grounding in financial mathematics allowed me to put in place a strategy that balanced prudent profit taking with some sheer ‘what the hell’ trading. I exited the market a number of weeks ago. When you see people giving advice on a site such as this about investing money in it, then you know you’re in the onine equivalent of the Joseph Kennedy shoeshine boy giving him stock tips.
As I said, I remain extremely interested in the technology stack behind the hysteria, so I’ve invested in an extremely promising start-up which is creating a platform using blockchain technology for the trading of smart contracts amongst small-scale renewable energy producers and their customers. Watch this space.
My career in Frankfurt is still flying, and my strong blend of personality, analytical insight, and work ethic resulted in me being head-hunted by a competing firm working at the cutting-edge of European Finance. Empathy is an extremely important skill in the modern work environment, and it’s something I have in abundance. It’s not something you can feign, but it is something you can recognise in yourself and let flourish. Again, see meditation. My move caused some ripples in the area of Finance that I work in, but I haven’t regretted my move for a second.
That said, I’m taking a slightly more unbuttoned approach to my career. I’m still an extremely ambitious and hard-working man, who demands the upmost from both himself and his colleagues; but I’ve certainly improved my ability to switch off when I need to. Like Mo Farah, I decided to move from 5k and 10k racing to half and full marathons. My half marathon times in particular are the envy of colleagues ten years my junior, and I took particular satisfaction in running a yearly PB when beating an extremely arrogant rival from a competing firm. Pilates has been little short of a miracle in helping with a lower back issue which is the bane of the Von Bismarck clan; my golf handicap is a stubborn 6. I’ve also continued to hike and mountain bike.
I’ve always been a voracious - sometimes insatiable - reader, and this year was a treasure trove of interesting finds and revisited gems. I’m not the sort to go into vulgar details about my love life, but suffice to say I’ve little trouble in attracting members of the opposite sex. However I remain betrothed to my rock, The Baroness. We had intended to start a family in 2017, but alas it wasn’t to be.
Finally, I was in Croke Park in that beautiful day in September when Galway finally ended the famine, and won the AI Hurling final. I’ll admit to shedding a tear as the trophy was held aloft. Shame on their insistence on playing Galway Girl during the celebrations – a sour note in an otherwise wonderful day.
Christmas is a time to stop and reflect, and I will be spending it in Ireland with my family. I’ve had my challenges when it comes to my brother over the years, but we’ve reached some sort of entente cordiale. While I won’t be heading along to a house party with him to drink a bottle of Buckfast, and smoke a few ‘J’s’, I have reached a stage where I’m happy to sit down and watch Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with him. His tipple of choice: strong, cheap Lidl lager; my tipple of choice: a glass of really good Barolo. It takes all sorts to make the world I suppose.
I’ll pretend to enjoy eating the turkey and ham, wear a paper crown, politely decline a slice of Viennetta with dessert, and insist on choosing the cheese board selection. I’ll enjoy every moment, and genuinely appreciate the presents I’m given, even if my brother buys me a Lynx Africa shower set. When I get back to Germany I’ll be taking delivery of a 2018 BMW Alpina B6 xDrive Gran Coupe, so never let it be said that I don’t treat myself.
Happy Christmas folks. Hope it’s a good one.