The invitations went out a month ago. The gown was delivered last week. Now, the auditorium is filling with teary-eyed parents and bleary-eyed graduates waiting to grasp their diploma and hail victory over their youth (or at least their incredibly difficult English teacher).
My graduation commencement speaker in 1982 was an eager United States Congressman named Al Gore. I don’t remember a thing he said. He wasn’t as cool as Steve Jobs who spoke at Stanford in 2005 when he said, “Death is very likely the single best invention of life. It’s life’s change agent; it clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now, the new is you….Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”
Gore wasn’t as funny as Will Ferrell at Harvard in 2003. “I’m not one of you. Okay? I can’t relate to who you are and what you’ve been through. I graduated from the University of Life. All right? I received a degree from the School of Hard Knocks. And our colors were black and blue, baby.”
Gore gave a more memorable commencement speech at Johns Hopkins in 2005. He said, “In preparing my remarks, in all seriousness I tried very hard to remember who spoke at my commencement in 1969. I have no idea. Unless I’ve just tricked you into remembering, my bet is that 30 years from now you won’t have any idea what was said here, but you will remember the parties tonight. You will remember your families being here. You will remember all the hard work that got you to this point and you’ll remember how you felt.”
How does this relate to your investments? The single most important asset in your Purpose-Built Portfolio is YOU! The work you do, choices you make and the career you build will have more impact on your financial freedom than any other investment you make. Whether you are a recent graduate or close to retirement, you control your destiny by the choices you make. While we want to learn from the past we don’t want to live in it.
The Roman poet Horace gave us, “Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero,”which translates to “Seize the day, putting as little trust as possible in the future.” Regardless of your background, your education or anything else in your past, you have today! Seize it! Contemporary author Annie Dillard states it this way, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” This advice is as pertinent for graduates of my class in 1982 as it is for our graduates this year. In matters financial and otherwise, living life intentionally will leave you with an enviable portfolio and happy life.