LarryPosted: July 23, 2012
I don’t hear from my old friend Larry very often these days, but this interview, which he sent out recently to friends, made me reflect on his singular life.
I first met Larry when I was working at a small software company that sold a personal financial management product and which attempted, not terribly successfully, to position itself as a high-end product in relation to Quicken. He was a CPA in Petaluma in Sonoma County, and used our product in his practice. He liked to talk, a lot, about what he was up to, whether in relation to our product or not. The boss made me Larry’s primary contact, probably on the premise that it was better for my time to be wasted than his. I left that company, but Larry and I have remained in touch to a greater or lesser degree.
Larry spent several years supporting the entertainment industry as a CPA before he gave up life in the fast lane for the rural west side of Petaluma. He came to love China, however, and attempted to set up a veterinary pharmaceutical business there. That failed. He was ripped off by the locals and overrun by the multinational pharmaceutical companies. His wife divorced him.
What did he do?
He stayed in China. He set up a CPA practice there supporting American expatriates. He married a Chinese national and had a daughter with her. That daughter is now an adult. Today he splits his time between Guangzhou in Southern China and Hong Kong. He prepares expat tax returns. He writes books on taxes for expatriates and articles on a taxes, economics, and variety of topics. He speaks in public. And he follows American baseball via the Internet on his iPad. He freely admits to hating preparing tax returns, but he also knows that that is what pays the bills and allows him to write, speak, and listen to baseball.
Larry is a marvelous example to me of how a person can handle adversity, remake one’s life, and turn it into one of happiness and contentment.