Ben Bernanke Gives 10 Life Changing Suggestions To New Graduates And Students | Exploring Markets

Ben Bernanke Gives 10 Life Changing Suggestions To New Graduates And Students

"All of what follows has been road tested in real life situations, but past performance is no guarantee of future results." - Ben Bernanke

1.) Life is amazingly unpredictable. Any 22-year old that knows where they will be in 10 years is lacking in imagination. "Life is a box of chocolates." Ask any alumni where they expected to be today and almost all of them will be surprised at where they are.

2.) Our lives are impacted by chance and seemingly small actions. But life has a grand long project for you, and that is the development of yourself as a human being. "Wherever you go. There you are." - Woodrow Wilson

3.) No system, including our own, is entirely meritocratic. Naturally there are those who reap the largest rewards simply by way of luck from family, endowment or even genetics. Those with the luck must share it with others. The Gospel of Luke: "From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required. And from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded."

4.) "Those most worthy of admiration are those who have made the best use of their advantages or, alternatively, coped most courageously with their adversities. I think most of us would agree that people who have, say, little formal schooling but labor honestly and diligently to help feed, clothe, and educate their families are deserving of greater respect—and help, if necessary—than many people who are superficially more successful. They're more fun to have a beer with, too. That's all that I know about sociology."

5.) "In regard to politics, I have always liked Lily Tomlin’s line, in paraphrase: “I try to be cynical, but I just can't keep up.” We all feel that way some time. Actually, having been in Washington now for almost 11 years, as I mentioned, I feel that way quite a bit. Ultimately, though, cynicism is a poor substitute for critical thought and constructive action. Sure, interests and money and ideology all matter, as you learned in political science. But my experience is that most of our politicians and policymakers are trying to do the right thing, according to their own consciences, most of the time. If you think that the bad or indifferent results that too often come out of Washington are due to base motives and bad intentions, you are giving politicians and policymakers way too much credit for being effective. Honest error in the face of complex and possibly intractable problems is a far more important source of bad results than are bad motives. For these reasons, the greatest forces in Washington are ideas, and people prepared to act on those ideas. Public service isn’t easy. But, in the end, if you are inclined in that direction, it is a worthy and challenging pursuit."

6.) Beware analysis. Be skeptical and diligent. Watch out for "experts." Bernanke tells this through the joke of economics. He says, "Economics is excellent at explaining what went wrong in the past. In the future? Not so much." 

7.) A career decision based only on money and not on love of the work or a desire to make a difference is a recipe for unhappiness. Money is a means and not an end. 

8.) Failure is an essential part of life and learning. If your uniform isn't dirty you haven't been in the game. 

9.) Find a close companion on your journey. Physical beauty is not important. You will need each other's support, sympathy, and love more times than you can count. Bernanke says, "Speaking as somebody who has been happily married for 35 years, I can't imagine any choice more consequential for a lifelong journey than the choice of a traveling companion."

10.) Call your mom and dad once in a while. A time will come when you want your own children to call you.

"Congratulations, graduates. Give ’em hell."