My Life Is A Caricature. Is Yours?

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Here’s an up close and personal view of a whole life in a few dozen bullet points. For entertainment purposes and accuracy, I’ve highlighted the biggest, most formative experiences. Rather than tone down them down, I’ve maybe even dressed them up a little. In relief like this, my life is a caricature.

Not everyone will be proud of me for publishing this for the world to see. I have spent much of my life suffering in silence and protecting the secrets of others. Secret-keeping is the foundation of abuse in all its forms. “Don’t tell anyone.” “Just sign this non-disclosure agreement.” Perhaps discretion is the better part of valor, but for what? Many kept secrets hold no value, either in the world at large, to the people whose secrets are protected, or to the people keeping the secrets. In fact, they just shield abusers from accountability, and they often create more victims when the abuser continues a form of behavior they desperately need to change.

I’ve learned the greatest value to the world and me will be revealed when I authentically express my true self. No more hiding. Facts are facts. This is therapeutic. In the end, this will help far more people than it hurts. That is my intention.

My Life Is A Caricature


  • First of 3 boys. I realized at age 28 I have blind spots about women. I grew up with no sisters.
  • Survived my first divorce by age 2.
  • Raised by an only boy (youngest of two) and the youngest girl of 9.
  • In 7th grade, I helped my mom through Nursing school by tutoring her in Algebra.
  • Survived my second divorce in middle school.
  • Fired by my dad.
  • My high school swim coach always laughed at me: I was the first athlete who’d ever missed swim practice because I had a meeting with my CPA. I miss Coach Crocker.
Dylan and Yancey with Age Group Swimming Trophies
I wasn’t a particularly gifted childhood athlete, and mostly I just swam, but I became a successful age-group runner in middle age. You can too!


  • Earned entry to UC Berkeley through affirmative action. Told them I wanted to help my Dad expand and grow the business. My dad had other ideas.
  • 6 years to graduate college. 5 years of Fraternity leadership, including Lodge Manager, Treasurer, and President — twice. While I was in college, the Clintons were in office and media advised Social Security wouldn’t be around when I was old enough to collect. Determined to attend grad school while still an undergraduate.
  • First in my family to earn Bachelor’s degree.
  • Survived my first corporate acquisition.
  • First in my family to earn Master’s degree. Went to graduate school because life with a liberal arts degree seemed untenable. Went grad school to learn how to invest my money, which is why I picked up a concentration in Finance. While there in Silicon Valley, it seemed right to pick up two more concentrations, in MIS, and Management of Technology and Innovation. Finance professor said the best portfolio is no-load index mutual funds. If you have the nerve to do it, he’s right.
  • First in my family to take on $115,000 in student debt.

20s Were Difficult

  • Lived on $14 a week for almost a year after I graduated college. Accidentally lost 50 pounds. Looked in the mirror one day and noticed I was scrawny.
  • Graduated grad school and changed careers from staffing/recruiting/temporary human resources services to software publishing.
  • Spent 3 1/2 weeks in Buenos Aires, including a weekend at Iguazu Falls. Took a course in International Finance.
  • Became a consultant and project manager when my boss suggested it.
  • Paid off the student loan my mom took out on my behalf.
  • Started a business, then puzzled for 20 years why I had difficulty sustaining and growing it, even with an MBA.

30s Were Difficult

  • Raised money from friends to start another business with family. Killed the business. Returned the money. Angered family members.
  • Arrested in my front yard and went to my first AA meeting because my attorney suggested it. Didn’t read the book or get a sponsor. Also took 6 months of mandatory alcohol education, paid fines, and did several days of community service.
  • Spent four years as a traveling consultant, including 6 weeks in Mexico. Avoided travel jobs twice before, and finally couldn’t avoid one. Is it true that what we resist persists?
  • Took a 60% pay cut and moved half way across the country after the dot-com bubble. Narrowly avoided bankruptcy by borrowing from family members to refinance credit card debt. Several years later, repaid in full with interest.
  • Earned PMP project management certification.
  • Enjoyed my second corporate acquisition. Oracle created real leadership and momentum to move everyone forward in the same direction.
  • Became a lifetime member of AAII.
  • Left consulting and went to work in-house on a highly successful web property. Loved it, though we lived every day in the shadow of a previous, incomplete corporate acquisition.
Dread and failure are created conditions. You can just as easily create aliveness and success.
While my career was working reasonably well, I was feeling stuck, both at work and at home.
  • Nearly arrested a second time and went back to AA because I knew drinking would destroy me. Got a sponsor. Read the book.
  • Became coachable. Stopped suffering.
  • Divorced a wonderful woman I never married.

Things Began Looking Up In My 40s

  • Studied phenomenology at Landmark Worldwide.
  • CISSP information security certification.
  • Got a leadership coach.
  • Got a nutrition coach.
  • Spent some time in WeightWatchers.
  • Lost 50 pounds the second time, and I’ve kept it off for five years and counting. My weight record, since I got my second weight loss rolling, is on MyFitnessPal.
  • Studied communication and leadership at Toastmasters.
  • Developed horrible sinus allergy symptoms, started taking allergy meds like they’re candy, got diagnoses for several environmental allergies, then my doctor diagnosed me with autoimmunity (rare for a male).
  • Got serious about athletic competition, diet, stress management, and sleep.
  • Got a running coach.
  • Ran 5 marathons, several triathlons, and obstacle course races, and I’m just getting warmed up!
  • Finally realized finance and investment knowledge isn’t worth a damn without money. Ha!
  • Studied investment real estate acquisition and operations at Lifestyles Unlimited.
  • Spent an amazing two weeks in Cusco, Macchu Piccu, Amazon rain forest and jungle 4 hours by boat from Iquitos Peru.
  • Had a very unpleasant inguinal hernia resolved through open abdominal surgery. Thank goodness! Soon I’ll return to athletics, when recovery is far enough along.

Where I’m Going

Answers To The Big Questions

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Also published on Medium.


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Dylan Cornelius helps coachable parents and professionals have renewed confidence, respect, and satisfaction.

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