Byron Wien’s 10 Key Life Lessons

I was reading last week’s cover story in Barron’s on Byron Wien who has been a top Wall Street strategist for more than 50 years and something he said pointed out how High School Counselors can have a life long impact on the future of some of the nations brightest people. At 83, Mr. Wien is still the chief strategist for the Blackstone Group and is considered a legend in the industry.

He told his story of being orphaned at 14 and excelling in High School. A Harvard admissions representative was planning to visit his Chicago High School and told the school counselor to recommend a single student for an interview. The counselor recommended him for the interview, he went on to Harvard and the rest is history.

He has 10 Key Life Lessons that he recommends people live by to succeed in life and many of them can be applied to High School Counselors as well. My comments are in italics.

  1. Network intensely: Luck plays a role in life, and there is no better way to increase your luck than by knowing as many people as possible. Getting to know as many of your peers as possible at other schools is a great way to network and also keep your job options open.
  2. When you meet someone new: Treat that person as a friend. Assume he or she is a winner and will become a positive force in your life.  You never know when someone can help you in your career. Treat everyone you meet as the most important person in the room and you can’t ever go wrong.
  3. Read all the time: Have a point of view before you start a book or article and see if what you think is confirmed or refuted by the author.
  4. Get enough sleep: Seven hours will do until your’e 60, eight from 60 to 70, nine thereafter, which might include eight hours at night and a one-hour nap.
  5. Travel extensively: Try to get everywhere before you wear out. Attempt to meet local interesting people where you travel and keep in contact with them throughout your life.
  6. On philanthropy: His approach is to try to relieve pain rather than spread joy.
  7. The hard way: Is always the right way. Never take shortcuts. Shortcuts can be construed as sloppiness, a career killer.  This is a great lesson to teach your students as well.
  8. Don’t try to be better: Than your competitors; try to different. There is always going to be someone smarter than you, but there may not be someone who is more imaginative.
  9. When seeking a career: As you come out of school or making a job change, always take the job that looks like it will be the most enjoyable. If it pays the most, you’re lucky. If it doesn’t, take it anyway.
  10. Never retire: If you work forever, you can live forever.