TIME MATTERS – CHAPTER 1: The Princeton Dream

Image of the Princeton Campus from above

Hi, my name is Raymond Young. You can call me Ray, Raymond, Young, Mr. Young, dude, hey you… whatever suits your fancy. I really don’t care. You can even call me Rey, Señor Young or Don Raymond because even though my name sounds American, English is not my first language. I was born in a Spanish-speaking Caribbean Island within a family of Irish descent. My great-great-grandfather came to the Island as part of the Irish mass migration of the 1920’s. So, being four generations removed from my Old World ancestry my first language is no longer English but Spanish. Anyway, I’ve decided to tell this story in my ancestor’s language in order to better reach certain people who need to hear it for they are unnamed players in this timeless drama based on true events… that haven’t happened yet.

See, I’m writing to you from a moment gone by. While reading this you’re immersing yourself in a trip through time by interacting with a physical construct that resides in the past. What you’re actually doing right now is interacting with the past while guiding your creation process in the present. And by reading this you’re materializing the specific future I have in mind.

It all started on a northern autumn Monday around 7:00 AM. I’d been up for a couple of hours already, when my partner Bob Olsen called to make sure I was going to make it to our 9:00 o’clock meeting. Back then I had a reputation of being a little too casual about timeliness.

Bob and I were partners in an upstart advertising agency called YO! (a millennial-style name selected instead of the typical and boring Young & Olsen). We met right out of college in the agency I first worked at. Bob was a client from Procter & Gamble, and I was an art director working for one of Bob’s brands. It so happened that he was a Stanford alumnus and I was from Notre Dame so it didn’t take long for us to start talking about the sports rivalry between our schools. One thing led to another and we became friends to the point that I was the best man at his second wedding. A sort of shotgun affair that started on the wrong foot and ended in divorce a year and a half later.

After a few years learning the ropes of the business and making the typical rookie mistakes at someone else’s expense, I talked to Bob about starting an agency of our own. I had a few clients who were willing to go with me but needed a rainmaker to grow the business. A role Bob was perfect for. His deep marketing knowledge combined with his good looks and charismatic personality made him irresistible to prospects.

Convincing him to join me in the venture was easy. The process of talking him into accepting that it was better to go with a name like YO! instead of Young & Olsen was the equivalent of moving your bowels when constipated without the use of stool softeners or even prune juice. Back then I realized that the world would be a safer place if I never got a gun. Anyway, the name stuck, and our venture took off. I might even make it as Bob’s best man for his fourth wedding if it ever gets to that. I hope not; his third wife Iris is really the best thing that ever happened to him.

That morning, Bob was calling about a meeting with our senior staff to discuss the upcoming new business presentation to a prospect called Chronologix. The company was about to launch a new smart watch that could learn about your everyday routine in order to help you better plan your day’s activities in the future. Their approach was somewhat nouvelle but not really groundbreaking.  Just one of those accounts where you have to dress up the beast to make it look desirable. I had given the matter some thought during the weekend and that Sunday night I had a weird dream. One that, in hindsight, turned out to be the beginning of a very strange series of events.

In it, I was at Princeton University for graduation day. The main speaker, a recent Nobel Prize winner, was talking about somebody’s work as the inspiration for his groundbreaking work on the topic of time. As it usually happens in dreams, this scene morphed into another one where I’m walking through the beautiful late May Princeton campus, near Blair Hall, with an alumnus that I couldn’t see but that I “felt” was my wife. I looked towards a bench and saw a white-haired man seating there reading a newspaper. I couldn’t make his face until he lowered the paper enough to show that it was Albert Einstein. He winked at me… and I woke up.

My 9:00 o’clock meeting that Monday was going to be attended by a Princeton alumnus that, at the time, had me rethinking a particular aspect of my life.