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Your Money or Your Life
By Neil Cavuto
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2005 Neil Cavuto
All right reserved.
Your Money, But Not Your Whole Life
One of the issues I wrestle with every day in my profession is money versus life. What does money matter if you're sick, or even worse, dead? What does all the wealth in the world matter if you have no one with whom to share it? One of my biggest challenges in doing my job is figuring out how to handle the show on those days when something horrible has happened before my hour. It could be a plane crash, terrorist act, a kidnapping -- you name it.
Suddenly, in those moments, a show that talks about money seems to matter less, and the potential for appearing callous and indifferent bothers me more. That's why I argue to my bosses at Fox that mine is the toughest job at Fox -- keeping loyal news viewers loyal to a business product as well. It's a tough juggling act, but I try to keep it simple. For me, it's not about the money, Stupid. It's about life, Stupid. Everything's intertwined. Everything's connected: Our lives. Our money. Our . . . everything.
That's why I always remind my staff that we should never forget the value of life, first, and doing something with it, second. It's why I like to put things in perspective. I've never hidden the fact that I've dealt with illness in my life -- first cancer, now multiple sclerosis. I'm no stranger to the ravages of illness; many in my family succumbed years ahead of their time.
Sadly, such things have shaped me and made me -- as a man and as a journalist. They're why I can be such a sentimental moosh. I am moved easily. I cry even more easily. Such are not the qualities you'd expect in a tough, seasoned journalist, but I argue to the contrary. They have helped make me a better journalist, more willing to think outside the box -- perhaps because I know that, in the end, we'll all end up in a box.
That sounds strange, I know, and I don't mean to come off as grim or glum -- just as a guy who sees life as a fleeting, wonderful opportunity, to be savored and enjoyed. But most important, to be put in perspective. It's why some in my business have called me the antibusiness reporter. They're partly right. I'm not just about numbers and figures. I'm not married to earnings and acronyms. I am married to life and to everyday lessons -- things that don't change like profit reports but from which we can all profit immensely.
Nowhere and at no time in my career have these two issues -- money and life -- collided as they did on September 11, 2001. The sheer enormity of the disaster defined generations and seared our conscience in a way that few events ever had. Ostensibly my job as a business reporter was to give the financial take on this disaster. Clearly, the site of the New York attack -- but a stone's throw from the center of capitalism itself -- was no accident. The World Trade Center embodied that capitalism; indeed, it housed many of its most prominent players.
But I couldn't look at this as just a financial event. I had interviewed too many of the very people who died that day, some of whom had been on my show just days earlier. No, this was more than simply a loss of financial capital. This was an enormous loss of human capital. I wanted that to be the story, and my message was to tell that story, again and again -- the cruelty of it, the barbarity of it, the senselessness of it. I was sure then we would recover from that tragic day, but I wanted to remind all that this was about good and evil that day.
Some say it's not a business journalist's job to blather on about such issues. I disagreed then. I disagree now. After all, from my days back at CNBC more than a decade ago, I had no problem putting my emotion into my work then. I have had no problem putting my heart into the stories, particularly tragic stories like 9/11, since. One could argue that anchors must be passive, even emotionless, observers. By that definition, I guess I do not measure up. But in covering this story, from its sad first moments, to the legions of funerals and eulogies and tragic anniversaries that would follow, I'd cover it somewhat differently -- not as a television anchor, but as something more: a human being.
September 18, 2001
Finally, this hour, a small perspective on a huge event. A few little things that may help make sense of this big national pain.
So many of you have shared so many wonderful stories that speak volumes on the American spirit. Like Sally Anne Novak from Greensburg, Pennsylvania, who tells me of taking her mom out to lunch just to, as she says, "Get away from the television for a while." She mentioned the two policemen eating lunch behind her at the restaurant, and the stranger who quietly picked up their bill.
There's the trader on Wall Street who attached a picture of his buddy, feared dead, on his lapel. "I'm here for him," he says, "even though I'm not really here at all."
And those kids with the lemonade stand, raising hundreds of dollars for the relief effort, nickels and dimes and quarters at a time.
And the grade school students in New York who decided to draw flags and hand them out because there were no real flags to be found.
I know. Small stuff. But, I think, big stuff. Important stuff.
More important than stocks or money or investments or price earnings or EBIDTA, or any of that stuff.
A lot of my usual business guests talked about that stuff. A lot of them are gone.
Like David Alger of Alger Management, as warm and funny as he was prescient and just plain smart. A guy who once said of this market, "Neil, it's like life. Better things come along."
Excerpted from Your Money or Your Life by Neil Cavuto Copyright © 2005 by Neil Cavuto. Excerpted by permission.
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