In honor of this past weekend, which for me included celebrating my daughter’s college graduation and Mother’s Day, I wanted to take this opportunity to share what I have learned along the way. Here is what Elise and I talk about:
- Never let anyone else define you. No professor, no employer, no elected official, nobody. Sure it’s important to be open-minded and respectful. But remember, a grading system, an employer’s evaluation, a demographic, and a bank’s metrics tell only part of your story. While you need to operate, to some extent within existing systems, never ever stop questioning, refining, redefining definitions, metrics and systems that don’t capture your full contributions and awesomeness.
- Learn to read a financial statement. Regardless of your major, do not leave college without a class or two that can help you negotiate a salary, fight for a budget, and demand your fair share of equity. If you can’t read the financials, you cannot advocate for yourself and your team.
- Don’t stress if you decide the degree you start with no longer seems to be your life long career choice. Life is funny that way. We grow, we change, experiences and reality come crashing in to utterly upend our best laid plans. Sometimes they are welcomed, and other times we wish they never happened. But you are young and just getting started. If nothing else, a girl needs to learn to stay flexible, to adapt, and to see each challenge as an opportunity. Easier said than done but at the end of the day, survival takes chutzpah, a sense of adventure, and a sense of humor. Don’t just take the road less traveled, design and map that road (allowing for all kinds of twists and turns) and then go roaring down it. (Please remember to buckle up–the ride will be bumpy.)
- Life is not fair. No matter where you are in life, there will be assholes. Always do your best to avoid them, move away from them, and yes, not let them define you. Remember, they are assholes.
- Understand the value of compound interest. Even an intern in a non profit can begin her financial planning. Setting up a savings account, contributing regularly, learning about retirement planning. I know, I know, getting a job is hard, earning a decent salary is harder, and the very idea that one day you will be old enough to retire is hardest of all to fathom. I am here to tell you: it pays to start now.
- Relish this moment.