Are you a Hor, or a Vert?




“I just don’t understand you!”, I spluttered in exasperation


I was recently in Melbourne, Australia, my childhood home town, with my wife and kids, visiting with family over the Passover holiday, after a long three year hiatus, due to Covid restrictions.


The object of my frustration was a dear uncle of mine, who I love to engage in conversation with during my intermittent visits. He is a brilliant legal mind, widely considered to be the premier tax attorney in the country. In addition to this, he is an accomplished investor with diverse and sizeable interests ranging from large agriculture and forestry holdings to the Australian film industry and anywhere in between.


We were debating a particular topic, and for the life of me, I just couldn’t see his side of things.


“It’s ok that you don’t understand me. I’m a Horizontal and you are a Vertical…."


“What do you mean?” I asked him.


“You’re a vertical thinker. You are curious and like to go deep on concepts and fully understand an idea, it’s implications and possibility, and that’s ok! I, however am a horizontal. I don’t need to, nor do I have any interest in knowing more than is absolutely necessary and move on.”


“Well, how do you know if you are making good decisions?” I pushed back skeptically. “I don’t, that’s why I partner with horizontals. They are the Ying to my Yang and the impetus for the actions I take.”


 

A family friend called me a few days ago looking for advice.


He had recently, after many years of gainful and steady employment, summoned the courage to venture on his own, and he was struggling.


Things were not going as easily as he had dreamed of and he found the financial insecurity of entrepreneurship testing the limits of his faith. He was highly anxious and the stress of the unknown was wearing him down.


I asked to see his business plan and I immediately saw that it was Ill advised and poorly conceived.


I asked him gently why he was starting this business and he told me he was doing it for financial security but that he wasn’t passionate about the industry he was in and he gained no sense of purpose from it. His passion was in another vocation, but he felt that if he spent his time doing that, he would not be able to support his family.


I reminded him that one could achieve great success in his area of passion while thoughts of the conversation I had with my uncle sprang to mind.


“You’re trying to be a CEO, when you are the best COO a business could have." One is not necessarily better or more accomplished than the other, they both rely on each other’s strengths, but you have to be honest and content with yourself, and about who you are and the way that you think. Get yourself the right partner and you will have your cake and eat it too.


A story came to mind, which I shared with him, about a man named Zusya, who came to his mentor and lamented that he was not as successful as “so-and-so”, and he wasn’t as accomplished as “whats-his-name” and he felt lousy about himself. His mentor, said to him reproachfully, “Zusya, When your time finally comes and you face your maker in the heavenly court, they will not ask you why you weren’t more like “so-and-so” or “what’s-his-name”. They will ask you, why you weren’t more like Zusya…..”