Isaac’s son Nolan made a great illustrated print of some of the people behind Praxis. I love every part of it but the real standout to me is the likeness of Cameron which looks a bit like George Constanza. I was glad I’m not the only one who likes to make the comparison.
The illustration is printed and framed and I plan to hang it in my new office. Gifts like this — and I’ve received a number of them over the years — have taken on increasing importance in my life. Most other gifts have some sort of expiration date. If you give someone a gift card or clothing or concert tickets, that’s great, but in a few years the chances that the person remembers that gift is low.
Something like this print won’t expire in my lifetime. I’ll see it everyday when I’m at home and it will always be a reminder to me of the work we’ve done these last four years building Praxis into what it is today. It’s not given for immediate effect but it’s made to last the long term. I think that’s pretty neat.
And when I go back through my archives, these are the kinds of gifts that really mean something now, the ones that are unexpirable, that take on more meaning the longer you keep them and the more you share their story with others. These are the ones I’ve always made sure I held on to no matter what. I think the obvious lesson here is to start trying to give gifts that won’t expire on their recipient any time soon.
Though for most of my life I was the kind of person who just gave out gift cards, I’ve realized in the last year or so how much social capital can be gained by being a good gift giver. You can set yourself up to be a topic of discussion for years to come and make a lasting impression on a person or institution. I’ve tried to start doing this more often. It’s forces you to really take an active interest in the receiver in a way that many expirable gifts would not and this lends itself to some interesting results.
Last fall for example, I sent a 6 foot tall working pencil to my friends at the Foundation for Economic Education after they invited me to lecture at their summer seminars on economics and entrepreneurship.
Their founder, Leonard Read, wrote the famous iPencil essay that has introduced thousands of young people to the basic ideas of free market economics, and I thought what better tribute to that than a pencil that stands as tall as me? The office loved it and I expect it will remain there as a talking piece for years.
I’ll always be the guy who sent the big pencil and they’ll always have the giant pencil as a memory of our work together and my complete and total gratitude for all they’ve done for me. It is unexpirable and that makes all the difference.