Today I turn 47. I am so incredibly grateful for the lives I’ve led thus far — and believe me, it does feel like many. My parents are core to all of them, as you might imagine since unconditional love from parents is the single most important determinant of success and happiness (IMO). I look back with wonder at the sacrifices they made to make sure I had every opportunity.
Some of those sacrifices required that we relocate. Often. I lived in nine places in 18 years; and for an only child who knew he was gay when he was four, it was pretty traumatic. But it also taught me resilience — which to me means learning from every experience, the bad and the good, and then moving forward fearlessly (even when it’s terrifying).
Experiences like when I was forced to navigate the gut-punching toxicity and homophobia of my first investment bank. Or the soul-affirming, mission-driven model of my second.
Like when I was laid off from a job I loved with kindness and respect. Or when friends hosted a dinner for me with ten guests, each of whom could — and did — help me move forward professionally.
Like when mentors and sponsors at Merrill Lynch, many of them closeted gay men, came out of the woodwork to support my $2 Billion-producing-plan to actively bring in gay clients. Or when my 13-year marriage — the first legal wedding held on Fire Island — deteriorated over time, ended in divorce, and left me wounded and wary.
Each of these experiences not only prepared me for the next but taught me to appreciate the last. They challenged and buoyed me. They did not define me, rather, they helped me defy definition.
I don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions. I believe in Birthday Reflections. And as I look back at the professional and personal highs and lows of my 47 years, the people who lifted me up and those that tried to bring me down, I am wiser, more forgiving (of myself and others), and 100% certain of my purpose on this planet — equality.
I feel renewed. I am galvanized, amped up, and ready for what the next year and decade will bring — like the launch of Out Leadership’s 10-Year Global Ambition Statement (which, though only just off the runway, is already flying high) and this month’s WorldPride in Sydney, Australia (my soon-to-be home-away-from-home). Who knows? Maybe even love.
Many lives led, and many more to lead. I’ve never been more ready for what I am manifesting next. And whether you’ve known me for a week, or 47 years, I’m grateful to each of you for being with me on this journey.
Todd G. Sears
Founder and CEO