Swenson’s Guidelines for Successful Living

I take a lot of notes, apparently even at other people’s commencement addresses. Back in 2003, my wife graduated from San Jose State University, and a well-known local real estate developer named Barry Swenson gave the commencement address. He offered the graduating class nine guidelines for going on to successful careers. I was so impressed with his guidelines that I wrote them in my palm pilot, only to discover them again earlier today.

At any rate, as we’ve reached the graduation season, and this advice is probably applicable for anyone at any stage of life, I recount, in my own words, how I remember Mr. Swenson’s pithy advice.

  1. Use leverage.  You don’t  hear this one all the time, but, as I recall, Mr. Swenson was advocating the use of loans on appreciating assets like real estate to build wealth.
  2. Study. Keep learning and keep educating yourself.
  3. Measure. Keep track of important things. Measure your progress. We only manage the things that we measure.
  4. Save. Be judicious about what you spend your money on. Try to save it starting at an early age.
  5. Invest. Not only save your money, but invest it wisely.
  6. Timing. Be conscious of timing. There are right times and wrong times to do things.
  7. Join clubs. Network with others. Build good friends and get involved with worthwhile projects, even if they are not all profit seeking.
  8. Marry happy. Who you marry is one of the most important decisions of your life. Choose wisely.
  9. Depend on yourself.  Don’t expect others to do everything for you. Depend on yourself and take responsibility for your own life.

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