June 7, 2017
Dear Lily, Tim and Alek:
Mom and I are very proud of your accomplishments. You are a gift from God and we know that you will continue to make us proud in college.
When I was about leave home for college, my dad wrote a letter with his best advice for me. I kept dad’s letter and still read it from time to time. I am grateful that my dad took time to share his best advice and for what it’s worth, this letter is my best advice for you.
A Cold, Hard Reality
A year ago, I learned that a lawyer friend, Tom, had been fired from his highly prestigious international law firm in New York City. Might not seem unusual unless you know a bit more about Tom.
Tom wasn’t just any lawyer. Tom finished near the top of his class at an Ivy League law school. After law school, Tom outworked every associate lawyer at the white shoe law firm and made partner quicker than anyone had done before. Tom rose within the ranks to become a managing partner and was responsible for the law firm’s clients in two continents. Tom made millions every year in salary and bonuses, out-worked the other lawyers at the firm and is as smart as a whip. At the age of 50, Tom’s future was rock solid…or so he thought.
One day, Tom was called into a conference room at a partners’ meeting and informed that he was fired. Tom never saw this coming. Tom asked for an explanation, but no real answers were forthcoming. Eventually, Tom discovered that he was fired over a petty disagreement with one of the other managing partners. Now, Tom was out on the street after 25+ years of stellar work.
No One Will Take Care of You
This is a true story about a lawyer I know, but it could just as easily become your story. Studies show that the average person will be employed by 12-15 different employers during the course of their career. The chance that you will find one employer who will employ you for your entire career is close to zero.
You cannot rely a company to take care of you, nor can you rely on your mom or I. The only person who you can rely upon is YOU. Your mom and I will be your biggest fans, but you cannot count on us being around even for tomorrow.
Become the Best Version of Yourself
God wants you to become the best version of yourself. Every day you make thousands of decisions. With every decision that you make, first ask yourself: Will this help me become a better version of myself? If not, don’t do it.
Spend 10 minutes every morning in the classroom of silence with God. Follow this four-step routine:
#1: Gratitude: Give thanks for something in your life;
#2: Best Version of Yourself: Think of one example where you were the best version of yourself;
#3: Seek Forgiveness: Ask for forgiveness for one of your sins/mistakes; and
#4: Pray for Someone: Say a prayer for someone in need.
This simple prayer routine will begin every day with a mindset of gratitude. Do this prayer routine every day and your life will change.
Double Your Rate of Failure
Winners are not afraid of failure—they embrace it. You will fail at almost everything you do, but that’s okay. Accept failure as a part of life and you will be rewarded beyond your imagination. That’s right, failure is a good thing.
Become the Master of Your Own Fate
When you are self-employed, no one can fire you. You get to keep the profits of your business, you determine when you work and play, and you do not have to answer to anyone. It’s damn fun being the master of your own fate.
But there is a downside: there will be plenty of ups and downs and lots of scary moments. You will second-guess yourself and at times you will be tempted to return to the security of a “stable” job. It’s at these moments that you need to turn to God to ask him what you should do. In the classroom of silence, God will give you the answer.
Grow Your Fan Base with a Daily Blog
Begin a daily blog in college. Write about your experiences and things you’ve learned. Eventually, you will attract a following to your blog and by the time you graduate you might have thousands of followers. Your followers will be a resource that you can tap for friendship, advice or even getting your first job.
Become a Continuous Learner
Read 10 pages of a new book every day. Read spiritual and self-improvement books that will make you a better version of yourself.
Take a Dale Carnegie Course on public speaking and self-improvement. This changed my life.
Ask for Help
If you want to lose weight, join Weight Watchers. If you want to become a public speaker, join Toastmasters or take a Dale Carnegie course. Trying to succeed on your own will be hard without help from others who have been there.
How to Become a Millionaire
Save $2k/year from age 18 to age 26. If you do this one thing (and nothing else), you will be a millionaire by age 52.
When you get a job, automatically deposit 10% from every paycheck. This is the best way to become rich.
Give without Taking
Always strive to give more from any relationship than you take. Make it your obsession to make your spouse the happiest person in the world and you will have an amazing marriage. When you give more than you take, you will get paid back ten-fold.
Intelligence is Over-Rated
Intelligence is greatly over-rated. Your success will not be determined by your IQ, SAT score or where you went to college. The only thing that will determine your success is raw, naked ambition, i.e., “How bad do you want it?”
A burning desire for success will beat intelligence every time. If you are willing to die for something, success will be inevitable.
Why Grades Matter
When you set good work habits in college, you create a habit that you will have for the rest of your life. So, yes, grades matter a lot because they are a reflection of the work habits that will determine your success later in life.
Strive to out-work the other students and you will become unbeatable.
Final Words of Advice from My Dad
This letter would not be complete with the final words of advice from my dad:
If nothing else, you have the chance to do and to be whatever you will and as long as your mother and me are alive we will always be there to help. But, you can never count on us being there—not even for tomorrow. You must be prepared to stand on your own feet and to make your own success in life without anyone’s help. You must start now.
James H. Fisher, Esq., March 25, 1984
It would be easy to say “good luck” in college, but luck will not determine your success—you will.
I love you,
photo credit: lukas.b0 Pen Friends via photopin (license)