Commencement Economy

What can we learn from college graduations?

Around the country millions of students will finish college this year, and they and their families will endure interminable lectures by commencement speakers that are variations on the theme, “To thine own self be true.” (Of course, these Honorary Doctors don’t seem to realize that when Shakespeare coined that phrase, in Hamlet, he was mocking the old windbag who mouthed this truism. Hamlet’s quest to be true to himself resulted in his own death and the deaths of almost everyone around him.)

But being true to yourself is easy. Find what you want to do and do it. It’s a little harder to find someone who will pay for it. “Follow your bliss” is stupid advice if no one wants to fund your bliss. Prosperity–and happiness–comes from understanding and serving the needs of others.

What made Apple and Microsoft and Wal-Mart and other global innovators great was their ability to satisfy needs that most people didn’t even know they had. Far better advice for grads would be to create bliss for others: “So shines a good deed …”

Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA

Chief Investment Officer

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