If you’re healthy and productive, you have an obligation to give back and help make the world a better place. The art of giving is one of the BIG reasons as to why you were put in this world. Join the Ambassador Of JOY, Barry Shore as he is honored to talk to one of the world’s most successful Poker Players AND Philanthropists, Gershon Distenfeld.
Imagine trading BILLIONS of dollars daily in Bonds for Your daytime gig and then playing Poker ‘recreationally’ and qualifying for The World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. And Winning a Gold Bracelet. And Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars.
And DONATING it All to Charity! You’ll learn as Barry and Gershon discuss the mind-heart connection that motivates Gershon to GIVE and encourage others to Give.
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The Art Of Giving With Gershon Distenfeld
We have good and abundance overflowing. What an amazing show because our guest is going to help transform and allow you to become the biggest best possible you and do it through giving. We will be discussing that in great detail as the show goes along. I want to applaud you for making the conscious conscientious choice to tune into the show.
In this show, we discuss the three most fundamental parts of life. These three fundamentals are number one, life. Your life has a purpose. When you lead a purpose-driven life, you can go MAD. In this case, the great acronym that it stands for is Make A Difference. I thank you so much because every week we have at least 325,000 to 330,000 people joining us. You are always asking friends to join because, in this show, it’s all about you.
That’s why you have tuned in because you want to become the best possible you. That’s great because when you are the best possible, you create more bridges of harmony, you bring more joy, happiness, peace, and love into the world. The result of that is that you will be happier, healthier and wealthier. Who doesn’t want that? We are going to be discussing the idea of being wealthier through giving.
The third is to unlock the power and secrets of everyday words. A simple example is this show is being carried over the internet, which is that mythical, magical and mysterious platform that enables people all over the world to simultaneously read and see what’s going on with each other. If you ask anybody, “What does WWW stand for?” They will tell you it has to do with the internet. Factually, speaking that is correct. In our world, the world of the positive, purposeful, powerful, and pleasant, WWW stands for What a Wonderful World.
The tip of the hat and a big thank you to Louis Armstrong Satchmo for enabling that song to go viral and touch not just tens or hundreds of millions but billions of people around the planet. Whenever you hear even the opening bars of that song, what do you do? You can’t help but smile. Smile is one of the most important words you could ever internalize, utilize and leverage in your life because SMILE stands for Seeing Miracles In Life Every day.
God willing, this pandemic is going to go over. You won’t even think about it in a couple of years to be a terrible part of history. I was speaking to a group of people in person with no mask before the pandemic of 5,200 people in the audience. I was telling the story about Barry Shore and mentioning SMILE, Seeing Miracles In Life Every day. People raise their hands and say, “Barry Shore. I have been up for an hour but I haven’t seen any miracles.” I asked him, “Can you hear, see or standstill? I can be able to do that. You have water to drink, food to eat, a place to sleep, family and friends. Every single one of those is a miracle.”
What’s the simple proof? One million people didn’t get out of bed this morning. Do you know why? They died. By definition, if you are reading, you didn’t. You must live life exuberantly. Imagine the following. Standing up in the morning, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound and that night being in the hospital, totally completely paralyzed. That’s the story of Barry Shore. Overnight, not from an automobile accident, not a spinal injury, a rare disease, which I never heard of the day before to go over my body and rendered me a quadriplegic, nothing in my body moved. I was 144 days in the hospital.
I was in a hospital bed in my own home for two years. I couldn’t turn over by myself. I was in a wheelchair for four years. I have braces on both my legs, my hips to my ankles, and that was progress. Thank God, I’m able to be vertical and ambulatory with the help of the 700-foot walking lawn. I’m a tripod, not a bypass. I still can’t walk up a curve by myself. I have helped 12 hours a day and 7 days a week but you hear my voice, positive, purposeful, powerful, and pleasant. All because of that one word, SMILE, Seeing Miracles In Life Every day.
I’ve got to tell you a quick story. My eight-year-old niece comes over to say, “Uncle Barry, can we spell smile as SMIEL?” I thought about it. It sounds the same. I asked her, “How come?” She said, “That would stand for Seeing Miracles In Everyday Life.” It’s from the mouth of babes. What was she doing? She was creating the world she wanted to live in. Create is a great word that stands with causing, rethinking, and enabling all to excel. The ability to do a normal linguistic program to shift your understanding.
Most people, for some reason, dropped the F, shift and other stuff happens. When you shift your orientation, in this case, talking about giving, then you are going to make all the difference in the world. Your normal English linguistic program will cause you to do rethinking and make your life that much better. I have to warn everybody, those who are new in our cast also. I do use a lot of four-letter words.
I even use the four-letter FU word and I do it because of their shock value when it’s fun but the four-letter words that we use because we live in a world of positive, purposeful, powerful, and pleasant are love, life, hope, free, gift, give, pray, play and swim. The FU word is Funn. I see people raising hands that might say, “Barry Shore. Fun is only spelled with three letters.” Not in our world of the positive, purposeful, powerful and pleasant. Fun is spelled as FUNN.
After the show, when you see your family and friends and they say, “Hello.” You have a twinkling eye and a smile on your face. Point your fingers and say, “FU, everybody.” They will say, “What are talking about? Where did you get that?” Say, “I listened to Barry Shore, the Joy Of Living. He wants to teach the world to FUNN.” It helps bring the conversation. Tell them about what you learned on the show.
Before we bring on our amazing guest because he puts the zing and amazing, I’m going to urge everybody to use three times a day for the rest of your life the two most important and powerful words in the English language because it will make your life better, the life of your family, friends and the whole world. These two words are, “Thank you.” THANK stands for To Harmonize And Network Kindness.
Dalai Lama’s saying in one of his writings is, “Be kind whenever possible. It’s always possible.” Imagine when you are going back into your coffee shop, with no mask. It’s all gone. Forget it. You order your fancy latte, sit down and say, “Thank you.” You are walking to the coffee shop. You ordered a fancy latte. A few minutes go by, nobody brings your order and says, “I’m sorry. We forgot. We will bring it to you.” You sit down a couple of minutes ago and still say, “Thank you.”
You are walking out of the coffee shop and it’s raining out. Somebody holds the door up with you. You say, “Thank you.” You are walking out of the coffee shop. Somebody slams the door on you. You say, “Thank you.” You are stuck in traffic. You lay from the plane does not mean to cut you off. You say, “Thank you.” You jumped in the middle of the night.
You stub your toe and it hurts. You say, “Thank you.” To Harmonize And Network Kindness. KIND stands for Keep Inspiring Noble Deeds. I cannot think of anybody that inspires noble deeds that I want to share with you. There’s an amazing, wonderful person named Gershon Distenfeld. Gershon, please say hello to 357,222 people around the world.
I’m very humbled by your introduction. I’m not sure I’m worthy of it.
Gershon Distenfeld is one of the most remarkable two-legged human beings on Earth. I’m tickling myself that he’s here with us to share because we are going to talk, think and make a difference in the world through giving. That’s the essence of Gershon. I finally start reading all the things about Gershon to take up the rest of the show but I’m going to give you several brief understanding of something. The essence of Gershon is that he is a practicing observant Jew.
We have people reading all over the world, in China, India, the Philippines, Africa, Europe, the United States and Latin America. To get the sense of this, we are talking about Judaism, which is the oldest monotheistic religion in the world, the follows of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, and Solomon, all the great prophets of the world going back over thousands of years. People are part of that tradition so they take the Bible seriously and ingrain it into the very being. Biblical imperative has to do with giving. The essence of the Jew is in giving.
Gershon also happens to be one of the most successful bond traders in the world, deals with a portfolio of $300 billion. One of his little claims to fame, written up in newspapers inside, is that he is an expert poker player. By definition, he plays in the world series of poker, which is famous all over the world and he wins.
Art Of Giving: When people think about the Bible, they think that it’s just a set of archaic laws. Like keeping the Sabbath or eating certain animals only. But the reality is that the Bible is a book of giving.
Here’s the best part. He gives away his winnings. With that as a backdrop, let’s talk about what has sparked this interest around the world about you. What are the decks to you playing poker, winning, and not only giving but encouraging others to win? Let’s start with you. How does playing poker mesh with your life?
I appreciate you characterizing it as I’m an expert player. I’m more of a recreational player that would have a great busy life between my job. I have a family with four children so I don’t have that much time. I play poker a few times a year. I did have some successes. I want to hark back to what you said about observing Jew who takes the Bible very seriously.
Sometimes people think about the Bible as a set of Archaic Laws, keeping the Sabbath, not refraining from work one day a week or making sure you only eat certain animals and others. The reality is that the Bible is a book of giving. For all those things that they will use those examples of the Bible, the Bible doesn’t talk about the Sabbath all that much.
What does it talk about? Thirty-seven times it says that you need to love and do for the widow, orphan and covert. The first set of laws that God gives after Mount Sinai is our civilization, Civil Laws, Business Laws. The Bible is very much a book of giving. It doesn’t always get that rap but it truly is. The essence of not just the Jew but any person in this world is to give.
I’m not a psychologist or anything but there are a lot of studies that show that giving does all sorts of wonderful things for a person. The Sages of the Talmud teach us that often, more than once does for the one who they give to, the one who they give to does for them because it makes you into a better person and a vehicle for creating godliness on the Earth.
Let’s unpack a little bit of what you said because it’s so positive, purposeful, powerful and pleasant. The Bible is not archaic. It’s not something that you pick up and dust off every once in a while and open up. It is living, breathing, and animating beings because without it and its underlying fundamental principles, you cannot succeed fully in life.
To your point about giving, it is not giving internally in the family and tribe. It is the ability to give and recognize that all human beings are created in the image of the creator whose very essence is giving. That’s how the world was created. It was built upon kindliness, giving, and such like that. When was the last time somebody said, “F you,” to you when you left? You are a recreational poker player.
First of all, the word recreation or recreate I find very interesting because the essence of it is create and to recreate means to be in that process where you are in touch with the essence of life. That’s what happens in business. In my humble opinion, business is the most telling part of the human experience because, to use a cliché, “The rubber meets the road.” It’s how you perform and behave in the business environment, dealing with money that talks about who the human being is.
The interesting thing about the word business is the U comes before the I. When the U is recognized first, then you can do business for the greater good. My misspent youth was playing a lot of pokers. I had to stay away from it after college because it could have been trapped. It’s very sexy. You can spend a lot of time doing it and you know how to manage your time. You came to later in life, which is very good.
Poker is a game of skill. It takes rational thinking, understanding human beings, and the ability to recognize probabilities. There is an element of what people call luck or chance. In the short-term luck wins but long-term, it’s a skill. I would like you if you would be kind, to speak about the process of you as a skilled bond trader entering the world of poker and seeing it as a skill function. What does that means for you, and then we will talk about why it is that you are encouraging all poker players to be givers?
There are a lot of similarities between business, investing and poker. The biggest one is that we deal with and make decisions based on incomplete information. I can research a company as much as 24/7 and I still will not know nearly as much as there is to know. The same thing in poker, you are making decisions based on probability but in essence, you are using your best judgment and psychology trying to read the other player.
The other thing is the luck factor. The truth of the matter is investing in the short-term, there’s a lot of randomness and luck in the same thing as both. That’s true in life as well. Life has ups and downs. The successful person is the one who can get through the downs and realize the downs are noise in life to have a happy existence by focusing on the positive.
Let’s go to something in your personal life. What attracted you to the idea of playing poker even on a recreational basis with a wink and/or not? You are in the world series of poker. That doesn’t happen just because you play cards once in a while. What attracted you initially to the idea even of playing at a high level?
I’m a very competitive person. I try and use that competitiveness for good but I’m driven. It was a game that interested me. It was made pretty famous years ago when some of the men who Chris Moneymaker won the world series poker back in 2003. It starts to be televised a lot. What got me to focus on the game so much? I don’t know. It’s one of those things where you can compete with the best in the world. That’s realistic. I could practice my swinging golf all day long but I’m never going to make the PGA Tour. It’s never going to happen.
First of all, I have never seen Gershon swing a club but I believe that. Let’s be blunt. These are the people at the top of the game that your eyes balls when you see some of the shots they do and they do it with their nonplus being.
Tiger Woods and I were born on the same day, December 30th, 1975 but he took all the golf talents. I took some other talents.
Have you communicated with him and told him that?
Get me in contact with him. I would be happy to do that. I practice basketball all day long but if I play with LeBron James one million times one-on-one, he would beat me all one million times. Poker is different. Am I as good as the best pros in the world? No. Can you go head-to-head against them? Maybe I have a 30% chance of winning. It’s attainable and reachable. In life, it’s important to sometimes go after dreams that are not attainable. One has to be realistic in what one can accomplish. This was something that maybe was a low probability that I would succeed but it will do some probability.
Speaking of the best in the world, this is judged by winnings. Let’s be blunt. The more you win, the more of those bracelets that you get. He didn’t show it off because I asked him to. He did it in the most beautiful, gentle way possible. To everybody’s reading, if you don’t know about what the bracelet means in the World Series of Poker, go and search. You will smile and say, “I saw the guy who has one.” It’s like a Super Bowl ring or one of those things. Have you met Phil Ivey, Doyle Brunson or even Daniel Negreanu?
I met Daniel Negreanu for the first time. In World Series of Poker, I shook his hand. I took a picture with him. He knew who I was and my story. I played at the same table as some of the greats like Phil Hellmuth, who has the most series of poker bracelets out there. It’s a game where the recreational players can play with the big star, so you get to meet them.
I also met another observant Jew, Ari Engel, who’s a professional poker player. He plays full-time. At the event that I won. I was at the final table with him. There’s no question he’s a better and more accomplished player. I had the good fortune of knocking him out during that final table but I’ve got to know him a little bit. He’s a great guy. It gets to meet a lot of players.
Art Of Giving: There’s a lot of similarities between investing and poker. You have to make decisions based on incomplete information and probability. You’re using your best judgment and luck.
What you are saying is so encouraging, not just for poker players. What we are doing is we are talking about you. Remember, the whole reason you read the show is not because of Gershon, the great guy that he is or Barry. I bet he’s a wonderful guy. It’s all about you. What Gershon is sharing with us is that this analogy to what he had discovered in poker is something obtainable and it’s for each one of us.
Remember the three fundamentals. Life has a purpose. When you lead a purpose of life, you go MAD, Makes A Difference. Let’s talk about the MAD man that we have with us. That’s what animates and drives him. You are MAD, Gershon. You are here to make a difference. What is it at the World Series of Poker that you have done in 2020 but in 2021, you added something else?
I won the tournament. That’s an add but I was consistent this 2021 than in 2020 when I made the final table of a major tournament. I pledged to give away all of my winnings to charities. To be a giver, there are many different ways to give. My wife and I have been incredibly blessed with financial means and the ability to give away our money and time as well but that’s the point. Not everyone is going to have lots of money or even any money to give away but you can give in many other ways. Barry, you can smile at someone but you can donate your time. There are many needs out there.
You can donate your talents. I have a good friend who’s a dentist and spends a couple of weeks a year in low-income areas providing dentistry to those that can’t afford it. There are many different ways to give. I believe that all of us, in whatever capacity we are, are blessed. You all woke up this morning as one million people did not. If you are healthy and able to be productive, you have an obligation. This is not even a religious concept. You must give back and help make the world a better place.
This is the MAD man speaking to you and he’s doing it with a smile on his face. That’s number one. I want to urge everybody to understand. We talked about The Joy of Living and Barry Shore’s story. He’s animated and such but The Joy of Living can be summed up in one word and that word is giving. JOY stands for Journey Of You.
It’s also a form of love. The Hebrew word for love is Ahava, not everyone will understand Hebrew here but it comes from the root have, which means to give. The more you give, the more you love something. You love people, your spouse and children. What do we do for our children? Who doesn’t love their children more than anything in life? We give and want to give to them. That’s the approach that we should be taking in all aspects of our life.
Poker is not for everyone. It’s probably not for most people. You can get addicted to it. I wouldn’t recommend that youngsters and teenagers play it. I don’t personally play against friends. I don’t think that’s a good thing to do either. The lesson here that I want to give over is certainly not that you strive to be a great poker player, not even once you give away a lot of money, although everyone should each according to his or her own needs.
The point here is that in any aspect of life, we all have our hobbies. Every person has a different hobby. We are put in a situation in life. One can use that situation to do good, to make the world a better place or God forbid the opposite and everything is like that in life. It can be used for good or bad. Most people reading this are not going to be big poker players but maybe you do well in business, in your profession, and some other area of your life once you feel an obligation to give back from that goodness that has been bestowed upon you.
Biblical themes are the essence of the three great monotheistic religions such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam practiced most perfectly in their peaceful aspect. It’s about the idea of obligation to give and the ability to move from what I call obligation to opportunity. Obligation to give is when you start giving, build up a giving muscle as it were and you become good at it doing it daily.
I don’t care if you give a penny a day in terms of money or ten minutes a day in terms of helping other people. Smile at somebody. That’s giving because it’s coming from you internally. When you can move from obligation to opportunity, and recognize that that is the most fulfilling aspect of being alive in the world, then what you are doing is you are creating that wondrous ripple effect.
There’s a great line that is attributed to Albert Schweitzer, who was a great giver that said, “Example is not the main thing in teaching others. It’s the only thing.” The reason I asked and pleaded for Gershon to make time to come here is by his example. Let’s go into the ether for the moment. You are right. Not everybody can do this. How much did you win in 2021 in the World Series of Poker?
In 2021, I won about $204,000.
What did you do with that money?
I donated to its various causes that help make the world a better place. I tend to look at my charity as I look at investing. I look for returns like the adage, “You can give a man a fish and he eats for a day. You can teach a man to fish and he can feed himself for a lifetime.” I try and utilize my charitable dollars in ways that can make an everlasting impact. I will give you a good example of something that I have been very involved with.
We have good cup runneth over with good in the person of Gershon Distenfeld. He is a competitor for good. That’s what he’s told us. He’s a bond trader trading $300 billion and the Head of the $300 billion apartment bond trading. He’s a world-class poker player and had won in the World Series of Poker for $204,000. He’s going to tell us about donating all that money because he’s an example of what he says. He walks his talk. Gershon, give us the example you were about to tell us.
I will give two quick examples with the theme of trying to utilize funds to help people in a more lasting way. One is an organization called Minds Matter. It’s an organization that prepares underprivileged children or kids for college that wouldn’t have the resources to otherwise do, further in education, something that lasts a lot longer than the actual dollars we are giving.
The second example is my wife and I donated many years ago to grow a program that was in its infancy called NCSY Chesed Missions. Chesed is the Hebrew word for kindness. What these programs do is take youngsters that have natural disasters. It could be in New Orleans, Houston, Puerto Rico and others. They go and help rebuild those communities. The reason that’s so powerful is it’s not just the help that you give people, which is very big in and of itself. It’s the impact that this makes on the lives of these youngsters.
A lot of them growing up in middle to upper-class homes don’t have adversity in life. They go out there and it gives them a better appreciation of all the blessings that they have in their life but more than that, they learned for the first time how to give back to someone in need. It feels good that these kids have a purpose. My wife and I attend them every year. I’m going to one in New Orleans in March 2022, where I get my hands dirty and build houses. The leader of the program, a couple of years ago, asked me, “Why is he hammering away here?”
A guarantee that his house somehow needs to be fixed. He wouldn’t do it himself. He would call someone, which is true. What’s the lesson? The lesson is that one has to be able to give in any way they can. You can give through money and volunteering time. We are spending time. There are many lonely elderly people out there. There are many ways to give back.
Trust me, we live in a world of work where there is a lot of selfishness. That has its time and place but for those that haven’t experienced true giving, it can feel so much better. You want something. You get a new car, toy or iPhone. The joy lasts and it’s fleeting. Life goes back to normal the next day for the most part but when you give to someone, that feels good in an everlasting enduring passion.
Art Of Giving: Not everyone is going to have lots of money to give away to charity but you can give in many other ways you too. You can donate your time or talent. Sometimes even a smile is enough.
The acronym that we use for IT is Information Transformation. What you have been sharing with us is transformative processes like Minds Matter and the Chesed fund for kids to go. It is so vital for people to understand another biblical idea. It is one thing to be blessed. We talk about being blessed means that you have good health. You are somewhat happy. I don’t care how happy you are. If you have some means of feeding yourself and your family, that’s called wealth.
The ability to be a blessing in the world is the higher calling. That’s the Abrahamic tradition. Being blessed is one thing. To become a blessing is when all of this happens and you grow. If you plant the seed in the Earth and it’s the seed of wheat, a seed of one seed doesn’t sprout one wheat on a stock. It produces hundreds and hundreds of grains. That’s what Gershon is talking about here.
The ability to transform one’s life from blessed into blessing becomes a cog. Some people think a cog is a little piece in a big machine. A COG in Barry Shore’s world stands for the Channel Of Goodness or Child Of God. When you recognize that’s who you are and what you do, you become the change-maker in the world. You become as good at what you do as what Tiger Woods does in golf. It’s because you are helping another person.
There is nothing more powerful in life than extending a hand, whether it’s money, time, example, smile or doing that. Gershon, the ability to fund these things is so wondrous. You won $204,000 in 2021. You have won also in previous years and donated not 1%, 5% or 10% but all of your winnings. People say, “Gershon does very well in business.” He does but it’s the mind in matter.
It’s his mind that enabled him to understand that the heart and mind together need to work in the world. Little inside baseball stuff in Hebrew, the word forgiving is called nāśā but it’s spelled interestingly. It says palindrome. As you spelled it one way, it’s spelled the same the other way because that’s the essence of giving. Giving is a reciprocity life. No one gives to receive but it’s a law in the world. Law is a great word, Gershon. LAW stands for Love And Wisdom. How do you like that?
We uncover the power and secrets of everyday words and terms because words matter. What you say makes a difference. You stood up at the end of the World Series of Poker and urged your fellow poker players to donate some of their winnings. I prefer not using charity. I like the idea of cause better.
It’s one thing to be a giver yourself. Encouraging other people to follow suit expands the universe. The genius of enlightened consciousness is to become that light unto the world by saying, “This is what I do. I urge you to do the same. It’s competitive for good.” Would it be nice if somebody says, “Gershon, I’m going to see you and raise you in winnings?”
As an observant Jew, Barry, I tried my whole life to give away at least 10% of my earnings, which I have been able to accomplish. To that point, it’s with more stress. Most people are not in my position to give away that money but that’s okay. There are so many other ways to give. It’s in the writings of the songs. Often people translate it as the world is built on kindness.
It’s not an exact translation. The literal meaning is the world will be built on kindness. It’s a way of God saying through the profits here that a large part of what he put people on the Earth to do was to make the world a better place through their acts of giving and kindness. I thought it was a good opportunity to implore. People make a lot of money off of poker. I had asked people to make a 1% pledge, which many of the top players did. They would give away 1% of their earnings.
It’s not just for poker. Any success you have in life is not monetary. I mentioned an example of my dentist friend before. You have a certain talent that you can bring. It could be something that you think is very mundane. You are an accountant with taxes for a living. Go and give some financial advice or tax advice to someone who wouldn’t normally seek it out. There’s an infinite amount of ways for people to give. Almost everyone can give with their time. That’s probably the best way to give and there are so many needs out there. If anyone has any problems finding needs, I’m sure, Barry, you will help them.
Let me tell you a great acronym for time. There are three of them. Here’s one, TIME stands for Thinking It’s Miraculous Every day. You understand that you are here on this Earth and you are a miracle. Our time is unknown to us. As you said about poker, it’s like dealing with insufficient information all the time.
We don’t know what the day brings but if you think that it’s miraculous every day and you teach it’s miraculous every day because you know that it’s miraculous every day, you will want to be a giver of your time like helping out someone else or picking up the phone. One of the things that I encourage people to do in my book called The Joy of Living: How to Slay Stress and Be Happy is to pick up the phone, whatever devices that you use, and make three phone calls a week.
I urge people to call, not just people that you know and love but call people you don’t like or you think don’t like you. In other words, create a connection because CIND also stands for Connecting In Nature Daily. The nature of life is to be with other human beings. Gershon, I want to ask you because it’s germane to what you do. You like to disrupt most positively. I want you to speak about what you are doing in a school environment. It has not to be a Jewish school or parochial school but it applies to all kinds of schools because you saw something that was awesome and you said, “We need to shake it up.”
This goes back a decade-plus ago. I founded a parochial school in Northern New Jersey, where I was living at the time, that had a very different approach to education, a much more innovative approach, much less focused on the frontal learning that’s traditionally done in classrooms and more towards grouping kids together based on their abilities, having teachers work with small groups of kids while other groups worked on projects and got assessed by computers. It’s an innovative model.
Part of the goal there was also to reduce the cost of running such a model. We accomplished both. It’s a thriving school of almost 700 children from kindergarten through eighth grade. I have disrupted things in the business world and my personal life. One must always take a fresh look at things, never assume that the way things are being done is the best way there are, and tackle problems in an out-of-the-box, creative, innovative way.
Everybody knows the word assume so I won’t say that once again. That’s an example. Elon Musk has become, on paper, the wealthiest man in the history of the world. He didn’t invent the electric car. He reinvented the electric car. Before there was an internal combustion engine, it was an electric car. It preceded the internal combustion engine.
It happens to be because of certain situations, the internal combustion engine was far more efficient than an electrically driven car. When Elon Musk came along, he reinvented the electric car and because of tax breaks and all kinds of other things, it didn’t just grow. It’s a grove of sequoias. It’s changing the entire structure of the automotive industry and along with the structure of the automotive industry is changing how automobiles are functioning because we will have driverless cars pretty soon. It’s not just that Elon Musk is the richest person in the world. That’s what people point to. He’s also using some of his billions to disrupt education. He’s looking to build new infrastructure in Austin of new ways of teaching because we needed it.
Let’s talk a little bit about the bond market. I know as much about the bond market as you know about cultivating bonsai. You may be an expert but let’s assume, you are dealing with tens of billions, if not hundreds of billions for years. Doesn’t that take all of your mind and heart? How do you live as a human being with all that stuff happening?
I have a very large and capable team under me that worries about a lot of the details. The bond market is fascinating. Probably most people grew up following the stock market. In finance, I never thought I would have a career in bonds but through happenstance and the situation you have put in, I was able to have a career.
I spent most of my career dealing in what’s known as junk bonds, in which you are making loans with very high-yield risky companies. There are all sorts of bonds. Equities, relative to bonds in my nerdy math world, are boring. There’s one security. It changes prices every day. There are all kinds of different bonds.
Art Of Giving: Jews say that the world is built on kindness or will be built on kindness. This is one of God’s reasons why he put people on earth, to make the world a better place through their acts of kindness.
We loan money to municipalities, foreign governments, corporations, and US homeowners. There are many different aspects of a bond. How long are you lending the money for? What are the rate and provisions of the bond? Can the bond be called by the issuer? Can they be taken out early? There are always a lot of different permutations.
We mentioned the outset probability in poker. It annoys my wife sometimes. I think everything is in terms of probability. The truth is that’s how we make decisions in life, explicitly assign a probability. We are making good risks and hopefully, we are all trying to make good risk-adjusted decisions based on probability. No one knows for sure what tomorrow is going to bring. One million people tomorrow will not wake up. We don’t know. We try and make good decisions based on the available data that we have.
Hopefully, most people should know that like poker, you don’t have all the information. You have to make decisions on incomplete information. You decide on what career to pursue based on your talents and what you think you would be interested in. Maybe you are making the best decision or not. We all make decisions, small ones in everyday life, and the larger ones like who we are going to marry and where we are going to live. What has to get used to dealing with uncertainty?
This is so wonderful because people are looking for purity. In other words, a blog is a four-letter word because it opposes surety. There are risks in everything. That’s the nature of life. They used to say about the head of General Motors many years ago. He said about himself, “If you make 51% of your decisions and they turn out to be correct, you are considered a genius in business.”
People often come to me and say, “What’s your opinion? Where are rates going? Where is the stock market going?” I don’t know. Nobody knows in the short-term. That’s the game that I play in business and playing poker also. In some disciplines, it’s 51% of the time, maybe in some disciplines at 60% of the time but you are right a little bit more than you get wrong. It’s the law of large numbers. Let’s say there’s a contest. I have a bag and there are three balls that you could pick out from. One is red and two are blue but you can bet $1 on it.
If you are rational, you will pick the blue ball. This is a 2/3 chance but you stick your hand in and pull up the red ball, which you had a 1 in 3 chance of happening. Does that mean you made a bad decision? No, you had a short-term bad outcome. If you went and pulled the ball out one million times, above the 2/3, you are going to make the right bet. It’s a law of large numbers. We often judge our decisions by the outcome. The outcome is only one of an infinite amount of things that could happen.
What we need to do in life is make good decisions. In the short-term, you can make a good decision of a bad outcome. You can make a bad decision and get lucky. This is true in poker, life and business. If we are consistently making good decisions, over the long run, more good things are going to happen in bed. That’s what we need to strive for in life.
I would add this postscript that if your decision-making is driven by what we will call good thoughts, words and deeds like, “I want to be a giver. I am a giver. I’m making my decisions based on biblical principles,” by definition, the law will work. Love and wisdom will be out because of the law of large numbers. These have been wonderful gifts. Gershon, I’ve got three questions for you. I’m going to ask you in rapid succession. The first one is will you come back again?
If you find me interesting enough and I would help your readers, I would be happy to come back.
You have 80 seconds to answer this question. What is your most fervent desire?
My most fervent desire is for us as a society to be more tolerant understanding each other. We see it in the political climate. I have different politics from you. It becomes personal. I would make the world a lot better place just be tolerant of people who don’t see eye to eye with you.
The US stands for United Souls. Once we recognize that we are souls and we are all united, it can happen. That’s what tolerance comes in. The third question is can I hug you in front of many people around the world?
Let me tell you what HUG stands for. It’s Heartfelt Unlimited Giving.
Hopefully, Barry, we can meet in person at some point and have a real hug.
I’m looking forward, too. I’ve got to say one thing only because it’s you. Do you see the reads here, Gershon? What does that read?
DREAM stands for what?
Doing Remarkable Exceptional, Amazing Manifestations.
What do BIG stand for?
Art Of Giving: People often judge their decisions by the outcome. The outcome is only one of an infinite amount of things that could happen. Make it so that more good things are going to happen than bad.
Believe In Giving.
The reason you read is all because of you. You want to be the best you possible. Gershon and Barry are great guys but it’s all about you. Use the three fundamentals of life. Number one is life has a purpose. Number two, you can go MAD, go Make A Difference. No matter what you have, it doesn’t just mean your money. It’s time and you. Give of you and make the world a better place.
Number three is unlocked the power, secrets, words, and terms like WWW, What a Wonderful World. SMILE, Seeing Miracles In life Every day. My eight-year-old niece says, “Seeing Miracles In Everyday Life.” Create the kind of world you want to live in, causing, rethinking, enabling all to excel, and utilizing all of your assets to become not just blessed but a blessing into the world. Use four-letter words like love, life, hope, grow, bond, free, gift, pray, play and swim. Tell people, “FUNN.” “Where did you get that?” “I followed Barry Shore.”
Remember, the JOY of Living can be summed up in one word and that word is giving as you have heard from our amazing, wonderful, and winning, Gershon. When you do all this, you will be happier, healthier and wealthy. Who doesn’t want that? I urge you all to use the two most powerful words in the English language at least three times a day.
If you do this consciously and conscientiously for the rest of your life, you will be happier. You will make your family and friend happy. All the world needs that. Thank you, To Harmonize And Network Kindness. Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always keep inspiring noble deeds. Learn the lessons.
I urge you, read this again. Share this with at least five people. We will have over one million and a half people around the world reading. Everything you want to know about Gershon and all the stuff that he does and succeeds that is amazing, go to my website, www.BarryShore.com. It’s all there. Everything about Gershon will be there. Share this, read it again, and be transformed by this wonderful information. Become the best you, the ultimate giver because that’s who you are. With that, Gershon, we wish everybody a fond to do. Thank you.
About Gershon Distenfeld
Gershon M. Distenfeld, Senior Vice President, is Co-Head of Fixed Income, Director of Credit and a member of the Operating Committee. As Co-Head of Fixed Income, he is responsible for the management and strategic growth of AB’s fixed-income business. As Director of Credit, Distenfeld oversees all of AB’s credit-related strategies, including all global and regional investment-grade and high-yield strategies, as well as their associated investment strategy, activities and portfolio-management teams.
Gershon is involved in many philanthropic activities, donating both his time and money to efforts to help those in need.