Live Your Best Life: A Note from Sean

Sean P. Gilligan, CFA, CPA, CIPM

September 3, 2023

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Sean & Jocelyn Gilligan La Plata Peak Summit

Today, September 3, 2023, marks Longs Peak’s 8th anniversary, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the incredible journey we’ve had over the last 8 years. As we celebrate this milestone, I’d like to reflect on what this date means to me each year, both personally and professionally, and how I’ve embraced it to live my best life (one of our core values at Longs Peak).

In 8 years, I am proud to say that we have served over 250 investment firms, providing them with consulting services related to calculating and presenting their investment performance. Many of these firms achieved GIPS compliance for the first time with our assistance, allowing us to live out our mission of making investment performance more transparent and reliable – empowering investors to make better, more informed investment decisions.

Our growing team is a testament to the power of teamwork as we focus on this shared vision. The growth we have experienced is not just in numbers but also in our commitment to make a difference in the investment community. As we continue to grow, we remain steadfast in our belief that, together, we can overcome challenges, reach new heights, and inspire others to join us on this journey.

But beyond the business achievements, this date holds a profound personal significance for me. On September 3, 2003, exactly 20 years ago, I underwent my first open heart surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm and receive an aortic valve from a pig. A decade later, on September 3, 2013, I underwent my second open heart surgery to replace the pig valve with one from a cow, as the pig valve had torn.

Facing these challenging surgeries and the recovery periods was undoubtedly difficult, but I made a conscious decision to embrace a positive outlook on life. I chose to see myself as a survivor, part farm animal or not, and this mindset inspired me to live life to its fullest. For me, that meant taking bold chances and not letting fear hold me back from pursuing my dreams.

One of the most significant risks I took was starting Longs Peak with my wife, Jocelyn. At that time, we had two babies and no other income. That giant leap led to so much more and although there have been times of fear (like trying to scale a business through a pandemic!), it has been an immensely rewarding adventure, all thanks to our incredible clients and team.

This approach to life has also pushed me to make decisions that go beyond work. Each year, on or around September 3rd, I celebrate my life and health by doing something that I wouldn’t have been able to do without the success of those surgeries. In the past, I’ve run marathons, completed long hikes, and climbed 14ers (mountains with peaks higher than 14,000 feet) in Colorado and even summitted Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. This year, I am grateful to spend this anniversary hiking La Plata Peak (Colorado’s 5th highest mountain) with Jocelyn followed by a trip with my brother to Slovakia to hike the High Tatras.

On this special day, I am reminded of how precious life is. By seizing opportunities and pushing myself to new heights, I’ve discovered the true meaning of living my best life. This year, as we mark both the 10th and 20th anniversaries of my surgeries (and 8th anniversary of Longs Peak), I wanted to take a moment to thank some key players in my life that have inspired me along the way.

To my parents, thanks for raising me with an entrepreneurial spirit. Growing up with a paper route, mowing lawns, and shoveling driveways taught me more about starting and running a business than anything I learned in school. I also appreciate your encouragement and support along the way!

To my brother, the time we both spent living in New York in our 20’s was transformational for me. Coming from a small town, I never would have moved to New York if you weren’t already there clearing the way. I learned so much in those years both from you and from the invaluable work experience I gained there early in my career. That experience and time we spent together really changed the course of my life and career and I owe a lot of that to you.

To my wife, thanks for always being up for an adventure! In 2009, shortly after we got married, I suggested we leave New York and move to Shanghai for an amazing work opportunity and you said, “let’s do it!” In 2015 I suggested that I quit my job and we start Longs Peak together and you said, “let’s do it!” In 2019 I suggested we have a 4th baby and you said, “let’s do it!” You make life fun. I appreciate your optimism and the faith you have in us. Most of all, I appreciate the way you always show up 100% for our family, team, clients, and anyone else who needs you. We love you!

To my kids, thanks for putting up with me and mom talking about work all the time and for patiently riding the entrepreneurial rollercoaster with us! One of the reasons we started our business was so we could work from home and be close to you all before working at home was as common as it is now. I may not always love it in the moment when you walk in on an important video call to ask an urgent question, like if you can have a snack, but I know I will love looking back on memories like that someday.  You all are my inspiration for everything I do. Whether it is the things I do to improve my health or career, I am motivated to do it imagining the long healthy future I want to enjoy together with all of you.

To our team, who we affectionately refer to as our “big kids,” we appreciate everything you do to make Longs Peak the best it can be. All of you embody our core values and that shines through in how each of you approach the exceptional service we strive to provide to our clients. At the same time, you make Longs Peak an enjoyable place for me to work every day.  I truly appreciate that and am grateful to each and every one of you.

To our clients, thank you for entrusting us with the opportunity to assist in projects that we hope have led you to further growth and success. Your confidence in our expertise fuels our commitment to delivering exceptional service and innovation. Your GIPS and performance objectives are the driving force behind our growth. We are genuinely honored to be a part of your journey to grow your firm.

To everyone, I would not be where I am today without your influence and support in my life. You have inspired me to do everything I can to live my best life. I hope everyone reading this takes the opportunities presented to them to take calculated risks (pun intended) and live life to its fullest. Thank you all – I look forward to the many more adventures yet to come!