Since graduating from Northwestern University in 2007, Ryan Birkhauser has devoted his career to wealth management and helping people plan for their futures. But he also balances his current responsibilities as a Senior Vice President at Merrill Lynch with family time. He and his wife Mary live in Lake Forest with their sons, Jack and William, and are always on the go. Here are a few of this busy Lake Forest executive’s lasts.
1. Memorable sporting event you attended?
As a Northwestern alumnus and avid college basketball fan, it was a thrill to be at the game last February in which Northwestern beat Michigan and “clinched” their first NCAA tournament berth. It was a long timing coming and hopefully a sign of bigger and better things for the program!
2. Book you read that inspired you?
The Road to Character by David Brooks. The book dissects our “resume” self, i.e. our quantitative aspirations, from our “eulogy” self or those more qualitative characteristics. Brooks utilizes a number of short biographies to examine individuals across various eras and regions. In reading about their drivers and their impact, it challenged me to reexamine my true motivators.
3. Piece of great advice you received?
My wife has challenged me to trust that seemingly insignificant change and repeated, deliberate decisions will lead to meaningful transformation when compounded over an extended period of time. For quite some time, I found myself inclined to believe that abrupt change would lead to measurable results, but instead have seen the benefits and growth from a consistent commitment to improving our business.
4. New Year’s resolution that you actually kept?
As for most, life is really busy and seems to be moving faster and faster for a host of reasons. Between work, kids, and social commitments, my wife and I feel as if we’re always on the go. As such, I’ve been really intentional in carving out quiet time to think, to reflect, and to prioritize in a swift season of life.
5. Place you visited on vacation that changed your perspective on the world?
I’ve been fortunate to spend time in Asia—most specifically Hong Kong and Shanghai—both of which are remarkable, thriving international cities. My time there heightened my awareness to extreme cultural diversity as well as the technological innovation occurring right now. Both cities are innovative, efficient, and incredibly diverse regions of thought leadership.