Copyright John T. Reed
I am finishing a new book, my first novel. I had not had a professional portrait photo taken in 28 years so I got one taken on 8/12/15. Here it is:
So I told Facebook to replace the prior Facebook profile photo that had been taken in 1978 by Money Magazine when I was 41 years old . Here’s that one:
I was not going to say anything about it. I figured probably few would notice and even fewer would care. But Facebook automatically published a “John T. Reed changed his profile photo” message to everyone.
Oookay. So then I felt I should explain why I got the new photo taken and edited that automatic post accordingly. As a result of some additional posts, I added a couple of photos from when I was in high school and college. Here are those Facebook comments and the two additional photos.
Bill Mulvey says he likes this above. Thanks for the encouragement, Bill. He would know about these things. He was an Army Spokesman back in the day.
Before that, he and I were in the same squad (10 guys) our first day at West Point on July 1, 1964 which was about three weeks after I graduated from high school where I looked like this.
John T. Reed I did not discover that I was a writer until my summer job between the two years of Harvard Business School. After writing one or two articles and getting paid for it, I thought, “This beats working for a living.” I turned 31 years old that summer.
No teacher from kindergarten through Harvard MBA ever told me I was a good writer, but a number of acquaintances and friends and other recipients of letters from me did occasionally comment that I was. It is a scary thought to think that my first choice for a summer job that year was working for Swiss Air in Switzerland. It is also scary to think how many other people out there who were born to be X and NEVER had an experience that revealed that to them.
They taught us at West Point that during your first 90 days at a new assignment, you should keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth shut. I was apparently applying that principle to life in general from toddlerhood through about age 29.
One of my West Point companymates once suddenly turned on me when we were cadets and said, “You know, everybody thinks you’re just quiet Jack Reed. But I see what you’re doing. You’re taking everything in and analyzing the hell out of it.”
I think the occasion was one where I felt compelled to offer a rare comment that he found surprisingly penetrating and indicative of my having “recorded” virtually everything that happened in all the bull sessions we had been having—apparently because he previously assumed few words coming out signified little going on inside.
I was not consciously behaving that way. I was just—wisely—remaining silent because I thought I did not yet know enough to be commenting. Not that I was sure I ever would. I just felt unqualified. Needed more information.
I think you can almost see the “eyes and ears open mouth shut” mindset in the eyes of my high school photo—and the “eyes and ears open, but mouth ready to comment, too” mindset in the eyes of the recent photo—one of the differences between being 17 and being 69.
Yulia Demkin If ever there was a kid who looked like he was headed to West Point, that is him.
John T. Reed When I was in high school, I had a crew cut to look more like a cadet. Ironically, after I got there, where we were allowed to have hair three inches long, I made sure I had as much as I was allowed as soon as I could grow it. Here is how I looked at age 20 at the end of junior year when I actually WAS a West Point cadet, not a high school wannabe. I probably looked a little LESS like a cadet when I WAS one than I did in high school. This is one of the many paradoxes of the actual West Point as opposed to its public image. I have a long article about that at http:www.johntreed.com/gotousma.html
John T. Reed I never noticed this before but I find the eyes of these four photos very interesting. The 17-year-old me has a sort of fake-it-til-you-make-it, deer-in-headlights look. When the photo was taken, I had not yet been admitted to West Point. I was just another high school senior. My mom and all her friends and relatives kept telling me I, “had my whole life in front of me.”
True, and I was apprehensive about it. Tons of unknowns including how I would fare.
The eyes of the 20-year old me, a West Point cadet with about 14 months until graduation, you can see much more confidence after just three years, but they were very eventful years. But no great depth of self-knowledge or world knowledge, just a sort of general sense that I will probably be able to handle whatever is to come.
The 41-year-old me photo at the top of many of my web pages shows the eyes of a guy comfortable in his own skin, Harvard MBA, father of three sons, husband, successful businessman and author—not Mr. Know-it-all, but relaxed about what has happened and what might come.
The 69-year old photo eyes are at the other end of the “you have your whole life in front of you.” This guy looks like he has figured out that life, to a large extent, is a colossal joke full of hypocrisy, mirages, satisfactions, frustrations, and so on. He gets the joke.
Here are the photos again side-by-side in chronological order for easier comparison.
I get a kick out of young people dismissing people my age as hopelessly out of it and not understanding what life is about in the year 2015.
Yeah, something like that. We’d maybe be more impressed if you were not sounding and looking so much like us when we were 20.
John T. Reed
Link to information about John T. Reed’s Succeeding book which, in part, relates lessons learned about succeeding in life from being in the military