It was late 2003, and we were just pulling into McDonald’s in Orlando.
We had landed earlier and grabbed a rental car for the week. It was to be the first trip for Max to visit all the Orlando theme parks; Disney, the water parks, Sea World, the whole library. Max was fresh off seeing Finding Nemo – about 12 times I think – and we were on a hunt to, well, “Find Nemo, Dad…”
I remember I was parking the car when my cell phone rang, and I just managed to grab it before it went to voicemail.
And then there was that pause and some static, the type you get when you know it’s a call from overseas.
As it turned out, it was a business reporter from The London Times. She had been given my name by an advisor named Alan Steel in Scotland.
The oddity of the next few questions about how we saw the top in the tech bubble, and “nailed the lows,” as Alan had apparently suggested to them at the time, was that I’d never heard the name before and had never been to Scotland.
But I was about to learn again that things work in mysterious ways.
The London Times interview went well and the week with Max at the theme parks was a memory for life…and we eventually found Nemo.
When I returned home, the first thing I did was look up Alan Steel Asset Management. It turns out Alan was famous there, well respected, and running one of the largest RIA firms in the region.
So, for those of you who know me, what I did next won’t come as a surprise. I picked up the phone and called him.
Now, it’s hard for me to make much sense of this next bit, but after the initial laughter between us as to how the call came about, a really odd feeling came over me. It was as if I had known this man and the places in Scotland he made reference to for my entire life. We soon arrived the idea that I should come over and speak to his clients about what was unfolding in America – give them a different perspective.
Not long after that initial call, I found myself on a red eye flight to Edinburgh where Alan and I first met in person. And thereafter, he drove me out to an idyllic Linlithgow Inn that to me seemed straight out of a Christmas story book.
Later that morning I would meet all of his team at their offices - what a wonderful group of people he had put together, all very kind, smart and helpful – and spend the day there before returning to the Inn that evening for a terrific steak dinner. That meal went well into “wee” hours of the morning, facilitated by two of the best red wines I’ve ever had: “Two Hands” and “Nine Popes.”
The next night we had a couple of great meetings with dozens of his clients, followed by two more sessions in Edinburgh the next morning. Later we ventured into this little pub right across from his offices. I remember saying to Steve Forbes and Alan, “Guys, I know this is odd – but I swear I’ve been here before. It really doesn’t feel like I’m visiting this place for the first time…nothing like it.”
That sense grew stronger throughout the trip, and when I got home, I remember speaking to my mother about it. You can imagine my surprise when she said, “Well, you never really knew your grandfather on my side, he passed away when you were three. But Tiger was born and raised in Edinburgh and was there until he was 25 years old and came to the US.”
Yep, mysterious ways.
Alan and his wonderful wife Fran – and our family – went on to become great friends over the years.
No time or space ever changed that.
Alan, always with a twinkle in his eye, a great story to tell, and a smile on his face was a dear friend.
He stood up to anything. Never backed down. Always worked for his client.
I know that when he got told late in August that he had another battle to fight, he would have entered the ring with great confidence.
And while we never like to cover the bad outcomes, sometimes we must.
Our good friend Alan Steel, who we have referenced often in these notes over the years, lost his fight with Covid.
Fran, his family, friends, clients, and wonderful teammates at the office in Linlithgow are in our hearts and prayers.
Ah well, my hunch is that he is sitting on the beach, hat down a bit, probably working on his iPad, and the red wine is flowing as he smiles and tips a glass to a new audience that has already gathered around him – and to us as well.