As many of you may have seen recently, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke suggested to members of the Princeton University's class of 2013 an outline for approaching their new-found freedom and ideas on living their post-college lives. In addition to such suggestions being both practical as well as humorous, many of the suggestions are applicable in today's entrepreneurial and start-up environment.
1. "Life is amazingly unpredictable." - Bernanke suggests to the new graduates to "Don't be afraid to let the drama play out." "Any 22-year-old who thinks he or she knows where they will be in ten years, much less in thirty, is simply lacking imagination." Bernanke similarly suggests that he thought he knew where he was going in his life; however, "then I got a phone call."
2. "Wherever you go, there you are." - Bernanke paraphrases a Woodward Wilson's school adage and suggests that "if you are not happy with yourself even the loftiest achievements won't bring you much satisfaction." This is particularly applicable to entrepreneurs and start-ups as many successful entrepreneurs realize that the focus is on becoming a better human being and making the world a better place, not simply turning a profit.
3. "From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required." - Here Bernanke quotes the Gospel of Luke, suggesting that the obligations associated with success go beyond the obvious. Further, Bernanke suggests that "those who are the luckiest in all those respects also have the greatest responsibility to work hard, to contribute to the betterment of the world, and to share their success with others." This suggestion has been seen throughout the world of entrepreneurs and suggests that such an adage can become a daily focus to the concept of success.
4. What is admiration? - Bernanke suggests that "those most worthy of admiration are those who have made the best use of their advantages or alternatively coped most courageously with their adversaries." Additionally, Bernanke suggests that those people are "more fun to have a beer with, too." Very true for the entrepreneurial and start-up world as well.
5. Most policy makers are trying to do the right thing. - Bernanke suggests that public service isn't easy as he should know, but in the end "if you are inclined in that direction it is a worthy and challenging pursuit." While this statement may be true, unfortunately, entrepreneurs do have to address many regulatory obligations and obstacles in their "worthy and challenging pursuit."
6. Economics is a highly sophisticated field. - Bernanke suggests that "Careful and economic analysis does have one important benefit, which is that it will help kill ideas that are completely illogically inconsistent, or widely invariance with the data." Entrepreneurs know all too well that this is true and live by this adage daily.
7. Money isn't everything. - "For too many people around the world, money is literally a life or death proposition." Bernanke suggests to the graduates "to remember that money is a means not an end. A career decision based only on money and not on love of work or desire to make a difference is a recipe for unhappiness." This is exactly why entrepreneurs become entrepreneurs. Money generally is a means and a true entrepreneur's love of work and desire to make a difference can be a recipe for success and happiness.
8. Failure is essential. - Bernanke suggests that this is a necessary part of life and learning and all start-up and business owners know and most have lived through this. The only difference tends to be that the successful ones learn from their failures while less successful ones tend to repeat their same mistakes.
9. What is in a partner? - A true partner relationship, Bernanke suggests, is like being on a long trip together and one which needs mutual support and sympathy along the way. Similarly, a good business partner should take on similar traits so when the tough gets going, partners can rely on one another to see the business and each other through the dark times.
10. Mom and Dad. - Lastly, Bernanke suggests to the young graduates to "call your mom and dad once in a while." For those entrepreneurs and business owners lucky enough to have either mom and/or dad living, such a suggestion generally makes good common sense.
In the end, the Fed Chair congratulated all the graduates and told them to "Give'em hell!"
Such is the life of an entrepreneur and starting your own business! Now get out there and give'em hell.