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For Carolon, It’s a “Crazy Life”

Blog post written by Tim Smith, President of Carolon Capital.

I am a music fan and I am a big Phil Vassar fan. Most of you won’t know that name. However, you have likely heard his music without ever knowing it. Vassar is a gifted songwriter and musician and one of my favorites to see live in concert. He mostly plays in small intimate venues and usually ditches the set list…..it’s just his piano and a lot of energy. Don’t get me wrong, Jimmy Buffett is still the best (I am a true Parrothead), but, Vassar is one of the few musicians besides Buffett I don’t mind seeing several times a year. To put Vassar’s talent in perspective, Zac Brown and James Taylor are also on that list for me.

Why do I like Vassar? His songwriting reflects a balanced reality and he doesn’t take himself too seriously. Much like Buffett, Vassar clearly likes to have fun while also recognizing that life is full of unexpected twists and turns. Vassar’s advice is to expect challenges, learn from them and move on. He sings about both the highs and lows of life.

What does Phil Vassar have to do with Carolon? Well, as I was preparing to write a 2017 year-end review, I took a hard look at our experiences during the year. We had a lot of wonderful triumphs: the launch and growth of a US micro-cap fund, regulatory approval for two additional funds, rapid growth in our marketing business and new partnership agreements with two European franchises. However, in between those victories, we had our fair share of setbacks. Some were anticipated. Most were not.

To me, the analogy to Carolon’s year is represented in one of my favorite Vassar songs, “Crazy Life.” Victories, losses, highs, lows, progress, setbacks. They were all part of Carolon’s reality in 2017.

“I think about the good and bad
The happiness outweighs the sad
And the balance evens out the highs and lows
It’s a crazy life; it keeps you on your toes
You never know what lies in store for you
Or, where its gonna go”
-Phil Vassar – “Crazy Life” 2008

I believe Vassar is right. There will always be lows that accompany the highs. The key is reaching a point where the happiness that comes with success outweighs the sadness that comes with defeat. As a young entrepreneurial firm, there have been times when we would wallow during the difficult times and not focus as much on the positive aspects of what we were building. In 2017, I believe we became much better at celebrating our successes while learning from and then brushing off the defeats.

Overall, 2017 was a year of growth for Carolon. It was challenging, rewarding and sometimes deflating. We are still young. We are still learning how to run a complex business. There are cloudy days and superbly sunny days. 2017 was more successful than 2016, which was better than 2015. As we learn from the challenges of the past, the good days become more frequent. The opportunities get bigger. The results get more tangible. And, the good definitely outweighs the bad.

We are thankful for the experiences during the year and we look forward to the challenges of the next. We know those challenges will bring some tough days, but, we are focused on staying aggressive and using the tough days to draw more enjoyment from the sunny days.

“…Life is full of bad mistakes
You’ve got your tough breaks and your heartaches
But you’ll appreciate the sunny days
You gotta bend and swerve and keep your nerve
And above all else, you’ve gotta laugh”
- Phil Vassar – “Lemonade” 2009


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