It’s commencement season. Can you remember your graduating self? Can you remember those questions, insecurities, and aspirations that lingered in your brain when you received your college degree? I know I do. Earlier this month, I had the honor to deliver the commencement speech at my alma mater (the University at Albany Business School) and was brought back to that time. I prepared by thinking about what feedback I would give my 22-year-old self today in that pivotal moment.
Situation turned 18 years old just a few weeks ago, and I reflected on all the transitional moments I’ve been a part of as a business owner. We all have tons of advice from our own life experiences, and picking just one can be difficult. Yet, I discovered one universal truth that has stood the test of time. It was in the journey of growing Situation that I’ve learned the hard-earned insight I ended up sharing with the class of 2019.
The greatest gift we can give ourselves is freedom, and the greatest way to gain freedom is to live below our means. By keeping a conscious commitment to saving for a more secure tomorrow, we enable ourselves to focus on creating meaning at every transitional step.
Unfortunately, for graduating students today, they don’t see a culture that values living below your means. The culture we live in today misleads us into believing our self-worth is somehow tied to the type car we drive, the designer clothes we wear, or the fancy, new technology we hold in our hands. Even worse, we are engulfed in endlessly scrolling feeds that deliver us the falsehood that everyone is living a better life than we are. Graduates are up against this meaningless clutter of the digital age.
As a business owner, I see it take shape in numerous ways. Many voices are shouting “grow, grow, grow,” and the hype of “go big or go home” is overshadowed by the truth of what I know has kept my business kicking after 18 years. The truth that, after every transformative moment, the most important thing is to keep building something meaningful. A meaningful life, for my family and me. Meaningful work, for my team and my clients. Meaningful impact, for the communities we serve. By saving for tomorrow, we can create more meaning today — for everyone.
Now, as we transition out of a three-day weekend, I would love to hear the advice you would give your younger self knowing what you know now.
Happy Tuesday and congrats to the Class of 2019.