How’s Your Portfolio of Friends?

Recently one of my best friends called me to apologize. He wanted to apologize for not listening to me and over talking me during a discussion we had the day before. It took awhile before I understood what he was talking about. We are such good friends that I hadn’t even noticed. But he said when I was talking about my portfolio he immediately jumped into talking about how good he was doing with his. He said he should have listened and acknowledge my accomplishment instead of boasting about his own.

For a minute I was taken aback. I know friends should apologize when they do such things but so many times we just let small slights go whether we perpetrate the slight or are the victim of the slight.

That got me to thinking about my “real” portfolio. My portfolio of friends. I’ve heard it said and I believe it, that the one with the most/best friends wins. Friends are more valuable than money. My best portfolio is my friends.

A good portfolio is diverse. My friends are diverse. They come in many fashions.

I still have friends from my hometown and from my high school days. I don’t see them much. Nowadays I probably keep up with them on social media. But that’s just a sign of the times. Over the years I’ve gone back home to hang out at clubs, churches and other community places, and I have always felt supported, appreciated and cared for by my friends.

Even if it’s through social media, it is still amazing to me the people that have known me all of my life. Maybe because when I grew up families were large, stair-step families. We would have friends and our brothers and sisters would also be friends. As I’ve gotten older that has led to a wealth of people in my life that have always been there. These people know the core of me. They know where I originate. They know my people. They are a valuable piece of my portfolio.

Then there are my college friends, The Emporia Connection folks.

These are some of the most loyal folks in the world. When we were in college we were all we had, and we supported each other unconditionally. It didn’t matter what fraternity or sorority you were in or not in. It didn’t matter if you came from the city or a small town. We made sure each other ate and survived.

I am blessed to say that a large number of my college friends are still in my life more than forty years later. We stay in touch and see each other as much as possible. Over the years when we come together others outside the group marvel at the depth of our friendship. They say few folks have what we have. These folks are another good piece of my portfolio.

Joining Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. in 1972, has also been a great source of friends for me.

There is a group of Kappas that I’ve known since college and we are extremely close. I talk to these brothers regularly. Over the years we have had annual meetings and vacations together. We’ve watched each other’s lives change. We’ve experienced the change of spouses, the growth of children, changing careers, moves to new cities and a host of life’s experiences.

These guys knew me when I was still short. They knew my first serious girlfriend. They have seen me at my lowest. They know the real me. My portfolio of friends would be nothing without them.

So far I’ve mentioned only friends and relationships that started before I moved to St. Louis in 1980. That is probably only half of my portfolio. But the friends I had accumulated in my portfolio by then would be the ones to teach me how to be a friend, the value of friendship and make me want more friends.

Just like having money can help you make more money. For me it has been the same with my friends. The friends I experienced in the first half of my life made it possible for me continue to gain more great friends.

When I was growing up there was a commercial jingle for Kool-Aid that said, “Make friends with Kool-Aid, Make Kool-Aid with friends.” That became my mantra and my way of making and maintain friendships.

It means you make friends by giving your best, and you do your best with your friends.

I practiced this in St. Louis. I used to have a birthday party every year as a celebration of my friends. When I moved to St. Louis people would charge you to go to house parties, or demand you BYOB, or you had to go to the right high school, be related to the right person, etc. I decided to show them how you should party with friends.

For my parties you had to be invited. Everyone couldn’t come to the party. And everyone had to be comfortable. Anything you thought you might want would be there and you didn’t have to bring a thing. I would have a band and a deejay, just in case someone wanted to dance. I would only serve the best food and drink. It would be good for you and good to you. Only the best for my friends.

Treating friends like this has enhanced my portfolio over the years.

When I moved to New Jersey I collected even more friends. These were mostly fraternity brothers but more importantly they were my friends. I have been in regular contact with these brothers since I left New Jersey. Nearly twenty of them flew to St. Louis for my fortieth birthday.

My New Jersey brothers are solid. No matter where we live now we still stay in touch. Even during the pandemic, we managed to have a Friday evening hooch/party. These brothers are all very accomplished men. They represent many different careers and they all have done very well.

When we all lived in New Jersey in the 80s we challenged each other all the time. We were very competitive. I think that is how we all did so well. We pushed each other.

You know you are a reflection of your friends. Your friends are contagious. You need to have some good competitive friends in your portfolio.

Since moving to Texas, I have made some very good friends. I have even more good fraternity brothers who are friends. I have my storytelling and speaking friends. I have friends from work and church. And now I’m at the age where I consider my brothers and sisters some of my best friends.

I have a very diverse portfolio of friends. I am so blessed.

I was thinking the other day, if I had to tell NaOra, who to choose for pall bears at my funeral, who would I suggest she ask? She knows most of my portfolio of friends, but I would think even she would have a difficult time narrowing the number down to six. Should it be six from my early life, from my college life, from my fraternity brothers, my St. Louis friends, my Kansas friends, or my current Texas friends? What a dilemma!

I can tell you for me having a large and diverse group of friends has been one of the best things I’ve done in my life. If someone asked me how do you get to be rich? I’d say save all of your friends and hold them close. Invest in your friends and the friendship will grow. Appreciate your friends and you’ll gain more than you could ever imagine. Love your friends and you will have a great life.

The one with the most friends wins. Thank God for my portfolio of friends. I’m RICH!

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