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CommunityGivingBackAmong the World’s Most Famous

When I met Greg, he was preparing to travel to Southern California to attend TED Talks, an annual conference that brings together the world’s greatest minds to present “Ideas Worth Sharing.” Celebrities, heads of state, noble prize winners, and managing directors of major philanthropic efforts are the type who appear on the exclusive list for this famous gathering.

After the conference, I followed up with Greg to see if there was something he learned about the Good Life he could share. He admitted that his major highlight was leaving the conference feeling inspired to change the world. After hearing many great ideas and success stories, he admitted to having the feeling of “I could do anything.”

Greg knows he is in a position in his life where he is not required to work as hard as he did earlier in his career. Having 20+ years of experience in prestigious companies could land him a 9-to-5 job that would allow him to enjoy a great lifestyle in San Francisco. However, part of him is challenged to find a deep-rooted passion to do something very meaningful others, even if it will require him to work incessantly. He noted that after TED he is inclined to say that the Good Life is found in the latter option in which one is pursuing their passion.

Another aspect that Greg enjoys about the TED conference is the community. He loves reconnecting with people and seeing what they have done since the previous year. He admits that some of the conference has turned into a business-style networking, yet he said that most in attendance are predominately committed to establishing genuine friendships with others whose passions are to support great causes.

Ideas Worthy of More Discussion

To recap, I wanted to highlight how Greg’s description of the Good Life highlights many aspects that others have discussed in their Good Life answers. His answer includes the following key ideas:  giving back to society, pursuing your passions, learning by using your creative and analytical talents, finding a sense of simplicity and contentment in what you have, and creating community.

I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.
— Jim Carey

Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more.
— Anthony Robins

Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.
— Albert Einstein

The more credit you give away, the more will come back to you. The more you help others, the more they will want to help you.
–Brian Tracy

You learn something every day if you pay attention.
— Ray LeBlond

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CommunityCommunity is at the Heart of the Good Life

Another major aspect of Greg’s Good Life is having a sense of community. I met Greg at an upscale wine bar and restaurant that was converted from an old industrial garage. He said he frequently stops by this place to visit with his neighbors. Even if one of his neighbors is not there, he feels that he will be able to have great conversations with anyone there because of his knowledge of many diverse things.

Greg wishes that he had the sense of community within his neighborhood like he saw on the TV sitcom Cheers. He knows that this is very hard to accomplish in a city like San Francisco where most people are very career-focused and usually do not have the time to build strong relationships with neighbors. Even though Greg knows that establishing community does not come easy for someone like him who lives in a fast-paced city, he keeps it a priority to cherish the time he does have with the friends who he is able to see on a frequent basis.


Giving Back

I asked Greg to elaborate more on what he has learned from having a career of giving back to society. He said that he has come to understand that philanthropy is hard work; it is not a matter of giving money to a great cause. Rather, it is something that must done with a passion because making a difference in today’s world is something that can only be accomplished with a willingness to being extremely devoted to creating a positive change.

Based on his emphasis on how the Good Life is found by constantly learning, it was not a surprise to learn that one of Greg’s favorite areas to give back to society is by supporting educational programs. He explained how he has supported many efforts to develop the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) throughout the world. However, he said it is his personal mission to add an additional A to the acronym to make it STEAM so that Art is a critical part of everyone’s education.

Greg has found that being open to artistic and creative activities has helped him in many avenues of life. Nowadays, Greg serves as an angel investor who awards money to young technology companies in exchange for a percentage ownership in the company. Like most angel investors, he meets prospective clients at coffeehouses to better know them and to learn more about their ideas. His favorite meeting spot is a boutique coffee bar on the roof deck of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). He instructs these clients to meet him on the first floor where they precede to climb to the coffeeshop, passing by galleries of modern masters. By the time they are settled to talk business over coffee, they are in a creative and open mindset that makes for great conversation.

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The Good Life PhilosophyThe Good Life Starts in the Mind

Like many others in this project, Greg attributed the Good Life to starting in the mind. According to him, the Good Life begins with our mental efforts to enjoy what we have and our efforts to appreciate life in new ways.

Greg admitted that he did not like the phrase “life-long learning” because he feels it is too commonly used. However, he noted that keeping his mind active and experiencing new things has attributed to his success in his career and his overall satisfaction with life. Greg feels that many others in our society miss out on the Good Life because they get their degree or find a steady job, and they cease to have the motivation to keep learning. Greg implied that the Good Life is more readily found by constantly using our minds to discover new ways in which we can experience things such as beauty and truth.

A Dream Home

Despite how great his current life is, Greg admitted that his picture of the Good Life is not solely tied to living an exciting and balanced life in San Francisco. He admitted that his dream for the future is to build a home at Sea Ranch, a seaside community in Northern California known for its interesting architecture. Greg envisions learning more about architecture so he can help in the creation of a “writer’s cabin” where he can have a peaceful sanctuary to pursue his passion of learning new things and finding ways to change the world.

The Proper Perspective

I was intrigued by Greg’s mention of wanting to build a small cabin. My father too had a dream of building a log cabin on a small piece of land that our family owned in the Appalachian Mountains. Even though my dad had the money and could have retired at any point to pursue this dream, he never did. He allowed the pressures of his business and confusion in his personal life to cause him to commit suicide and never pursue something that was a part of his Good Life.

After having noteworthy positions with some of the world’s top corporations, Greg knows how it easy it is for one’s work to dominate his or her life. In the competitive business world, he has seen many get caught in the mentality that one must work harder and go to any length to ensure business success. However, Greg has learned that those who are living the Good Life are those who know how to put life in proper perspective.

One way Greg maintains a proper perspective in life is by taking the time to walk as much as he can in San Francisco. For his meetings and appointments, Greg tries to walk to them in order to be open to experience the vibrant activities of the city. On the night when I was speaking to him, he already walked ten miles that day. He showed me various pictures from his phone that he took from earlier, several of which were the security measures that assembled throughout the city for a fundraising speech delivered by the President.

In general, Greg implied that we should never get too wrapped up in our chores or daily routine that we forget to slow down to enjoy the beauty of life.

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Everyone things of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.
— Leo Tolstoy

The Good Life Giving I’ve received a range of opinions on what makes up an excellent experience; examples have included things such as: surfing, spending time with friends and family, and having a religious experience. But there has been one thing that everyone has agreed upon – giving back to society and doing acts of kindness are experiences associated with the Good Life. For this reason, I wanted to introduce you to someone who’s an expert on charity and philanthropy.

Greg Miller is the former managing director of, the philanthropic foundation of the world’s largest Internet company. For five years, he found ways to leverage the company’s technology and resources to address some of the most difficult problems faced by society. He has since worked as an angel investor and as a consultant for companies that want to use their resources to support charitable work.

In addition to having a great knowledge of how to improve society, Greg has had a full life of running eleven marathons, climbing Mount Everest, learning how to play the guitar and mandolin, and traveling all over the world. After he shared with me about his impressive background, he invited me to his San Francisco home to share specific advice on what the Good Life means to him.

An Amazing Life

Greg’s home is a two-story loft tucked in a narrow alley in a hip San Francisco neighborhood. The loft could be described as a dream home for many living in San Francisco. It’s in quiet spot, yet it’s in a convenient location that is in walking distance of world-class restaurants, bars, and San Francisco’s baseball stadium. It comes furnished with all the latest technology gadgets and furniture. Greg even has a well-trained dog and cat to keep him company.

When I walked into his home, my attention was immediately drawn toward the beautiful photography that lined the brick walls. “Wow, these are amazing pictures. Did you take these?” Greg explained that he did take several of them, but many of the pictures were taken by a professional photographer he admired. They were symbolic to him because they depicted scenes from his former travels.

Greg does not display these stunning views to impress others with what he has done in the past. Rather, he likes having these photos as a constant reminder of all the beauty he has seen in his former expeditions. His stories of discovering sacred mountains in Nepal and encountering packs of wild horses in Chile’s Patagonia led to a discussion on his appreciation of photography.

Greg feels photography is the perfect “Good Life” activity because it forces one to use both sides of the brain to create something that represents beauty. Greg admits to becoming more of a left-brain individual after obtaining a law degree and working with technology companies that are mainly comprised of left brain engineers. However, he feels that he has a strong creative side, and he has recently found the Good Life in activities that use both his creative and analytical talents.

Greg explained how he uses his left brain to think about the precision and technical aspects of using technology to make a photograph. However, he must also use his right brain to imagine how to compose a shot that will convey something that words cannot describe.

Photography is just one of the many hobbies that Greg has taken up in recent years that have given him a fuller picture of the Good Life. In fact, he admits that keeping his mind active and constantly learning has been one of the “game-changers” that has led to him finding the Good Life.

He recounted that his first Good Life Crisis came about when he was in his twenties. He resolved to learn something new every year of his life. Since then, he has learned to fly fish, studied computer programming, become a licensed EMT, and even obtained a motorcycle’s licensee and rode one day with the Hell’s Angels.

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