Dear Reader,

My friend Steve Sjuggerud, editor of True Wealth, used to call me occasionally to ask if I'd read any good business or investment books.

Since both of us already had shelves groaning with them, it got tougher each year to find new ones offering any fresh insights. That was before I read Eugene O'Kelly's "Chasing Daylight: How My Forthcoming Death Transformed My Life."

Three years ago, O'Kelly, the Chairman and CEO of KPMG, one of the largest U.S. accounting firms, was diagnosed with inoperable, late-stage brain cancer. He was told he had three to six months to live.

He was 53.

Suddenly, the life of this rich, powerful and privileged man, whose days were filled with executive meetings and business appointments, became something very different. "Chasing Daylight" is his memoir, the story of his final journey.

"I'd always aspired to be a Renaissance Man. To know about wine and opera, to read books," he writes. "But after a quarter-century at my firm, I rose to the top position. My life changed. The balance in it faded. Spontaneity died... I was always distracted by work."

Suddenly, he was left with less than 100 days to live. "I had so little time left to learn," he says, "yet ironically the first (and maybe the last) thing I needed to learn was how to slow down."

With dignified restraint, O'Kelly describes discovering the world around him nature, family, friends, living in the moment as if it were all brand new.

"No more living in the future. (Or the past, for that matter a problem for many people, although a lesser one for me.) I needed to stop living two months, a week, even a few hours ahead. Even a few minutes ahead. Sixty seconds from now is, in its way, as elusive as sixty years from now, and always will be. It is was exhausting to live in a world that never exists. Also kind of silly, since we happen to be blessed with such a fascinating one right here, right now. I felt that if I could learn to stay in the present moment, to be fully conscious of my surroundings, I would buy myself lots of time that had never been available to me, not in all the years I was healthy... I would soon discover, though, that staying in the present and being genuinely conscious of my surroundings were just about the hardest things I'd ever attempted."

If you've ever tried to meditate to still your mind for even a single minute you know exactly what he's talking about. Sadly, we sometimes need a terminal illness to remind us to embrace the fleeting moments of our lives.

"Enjoy every sandwich," he writes.

With the clock counting down, O'Kelly makes a list of his closest friends and colleagues and plans a final encounter with each one.

"I stopped at each name and made myself recall, in the closest detail possible, all the moments the two of us had enjoyed together. How we met. What made us become friends in the first place. The qualities in them I particularly appreciated. The lessons I learned by knowing them. The ways in which having met him or her had made me a better person."

His friends were touched usually overwhelmed to know how much they had meant to him.

In the course of saying goodbye, he would sometimes invite a friend or acquaintance to take a stroll in the park. This "was sometimes not only the final time we would take such a walk together," he writes, "but also the first time."

Most of us promise ourselves that one day not too long from now - we'll slow down. We'll spend more time with our family. Enjoy a lazy day out with friends. Or just take a walk alone on the seashore. Some day

If like me - you're one of the millions who has often deluded himself this way, O'Kelly has just three words of advice: "Move it up."

Eugene O'Kelly died on September 10th, 2005

Carpe Diem,


Author's Bio: 

Alexander Green has just launched Spiritual Wealth (

What is “Spiritual Wealth,” exactly?
According to Alex:
"Anything that can be measured in dollars and cents, I call material wealth. Everything else – the love of our families, the health we enjoy, the time we spend doing things we enjoy or working on things that really matter – I call spiritual wealth."

Alex is also the Chairman of Investment U, where his actionable investment ideas are published three times a week. He’s the Investment Director of The Oxford Club, as well, where he’s beaten the S&P 500 nearly 5-to-1 over the last five years.