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In short, John D. Spooner has been carefully crafted a series of essential life lessons that every young person just out of college or high school needs to read before they embark upon their own life’s adventures.
Told in friendly and reassuring tones, Spooner relates wonderful stories to illustrate and gently guide the next generation of what they can expect when searching for a job, how to know if you’ve found the right spouse, insights on how to plan for one’s financial future, how the internet has changed our lives, dealing with adversity in life, and much, more more.
No One Ever Told Us That condenses all of this key information into one volume – and it’s presented in a clear-eyed way that only a loving grandparent can.
For decades, John D. Spooner has been one of America’s leading financial advisors. Now, as his own grandchildren are on the frightening cusp of adulthood, Spooner has chosen to impart his wisdom to them — and to readers everywhere — in the form of old-fashioned letters.
People over 60 endlessly complain to me about the younger generations: they're entitled, they know nothing about history or the past, and they're lost in their smartphones, often while driving or walking in the middle of roads. Of course, it's easy to generalize about the generations, and none of you reading this wants to be lumped in with anyone. But I hear complaints about your cadre almost weekly, and please tell me if these stories fit in with your experience.
One client of mine, in Chicago, told me, “I have a great assistant. She's street-smart; she gets it, and she could have a terrific future. But many days, she comes in upbeat, incredibly happy. But after lunch, she has her head down, sour and unhappy. Where does this change come from? Well,” he went on, “it turns out she's texting, all day. A boyfriend breaks a date, a girlfriend criticizes her, her sister has a problem. My assistant is great. But she's got no commitment, no sense of career path. You know what I'm talking about?”
I do. Because I hear stories like this all the time.
I wandered into an antique store outside of Boston this weekend and made an offer on a small French writing desk from the late 1800s. “How's business?” I asked the owner. I ask people in shops and restaurants and bars this question wherever I travel. It's how I like to do research, from the ground up.
“Pretty good,” he said. “A huge uptick from a few years ago. So much so, that I'm telling you right now, I won't give you less than 10 percent off.” We haggled a bit and I said, “About a month ago you had a young man helping you. He knew his stuff.”
“Yeah,” the owner said, “he did. But I let him go. All day he'd be on his whatever, smartphone. It was like he didn't have a job and the customers mostly were an annoyance to him. Work ethic? It's gone, like the Boston Braves, if you ask my opinion.”
These brief stories can be like the Ghost of Christmas Past in Dickens's A Christmas Carol. But they can be irrelevant to your own futures if you pay attention to opportunities that open up for you. I want these lessons to be a playbook for you in how to make your way in this increasingly anonymous world. Because it's not the digital world that's going to make your life successful and easier. It's how you interact with people and how you win them over to your side.
Robots may take over in many ways. But they're never going to help you deal with an elderly parent, help you get your kids into Stanford or Notre Dame, or make love to you on your anniversary. We need real skin in the game, not something out of the 3-D printer. Make your lives as personal as you can; get yourself noticed in interesting ways. Be good to people and don't be afraid of teaching others certain tricks of the trade that you picked up from your own experiences.
This book began on New Year's Eve, and it's fitting that it ends on the same day four years later. We all make note of benchmarks, birthdays, and New Year's, natural moments where almost all of us look backward more than ahead. Resolutions never resonate as much as looking to the past, childhood, families both lost and still here, loves lost and gained, the good stuff, and the bad. And your youth.
This New Year's Eve I was at the apartment of a couple I have known since their engagement and marriage in 1963. I had worked as a counselor in a summer camp in Maine with the host, a man of common sense and knowledge about the foibles of human nature. Here's a typical pearl from him about relationships: “Wrong no man . . . and write no woman.” Hmm . . . think about that. My friend is a lawyer and enjoys putting debatable concepts on the table. I believe in staying in touch with your past but not being dragged down by it. Preserve the friendships that can inspire or amuse you, and, as you give life lessons to others, know that sometimes those lessons can be turned around on you. One of the dinner guests this New Year's Eve was a brilliant one, a famous jurist at the highest state levels. I had recently gotten a phone call from one of her children, a bright young man who needed some help with a problem in his business. He left me a phone message. I called him back, got an answering machine, and told him, “Sure, call me at the office. But never on a Monday or before eleven in the morning.”
One of my key lessons in life to young people is never to call anyone busy on a Monday morning for an interview or informational meeting. Or for a problem that's not part of the business of the person you're calling. Because it's only going to annoy the person who is starting his or her own business week. On Monday mornings he or she has more important things to do. The person will not be eager to talk to you again. It plants a bad seed, even a stupid one.
Well, the young man called me before 9 AM on the next Monday morning. I wasn't in. But when I arrived it annoyed me that he hadn't paid attention.
But because of my friendship with his mother, I did call him that Monday afternoon. And after I answered his question to me, I took the opportunity to tell him my practical rule of life about calling Monday mornings. He didn't skip a beat and said, “You know what my number one rule of life is?”
“No, what is it?” I answered.
“Always do what your mother tells you to do.”
The judge and her husband drove me close to my home after the New Year's party. It was after 1 AM. The night was cold and the streets were deserted. We are not a late-night party town in wintry Boston.
But I kept laughing about the young man's response to me. I would hire someone like that if he were looking for a job. He separated himself from the crowd and gave me something precious, two things we can use every day: a different way of looking at the world. And a smile.
I'll leave you with hopes that every day of your young lives, you can find a belly laugh or two. It's the best therapy.
January 3, 2015
Having grandchildren has been one of the amazing, unexpected joys of my life. In this book, John Spooner does what all grandparents hope to do for their grandchildren. He takes the life and career experiences he has had and finds a beautiful way to share the lessons learned with his grandchildren so that their lives may be better. All grandparents would wish to do the same.
--Coach Mike Krzyzewski, Duke University men's basketball coach and a grandfather
John Spooner is smarter about money and about life than almost anyone I know. As a blessing for all our grandchildren, he has written down what he has learned. Through charming storytelling, John shares his wisdom. Grandchildren and grandparents alike are the beneficiaries.
-- Shelly Lazarus, Chairman, Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide and a grandmother
Spooner is a phenomenon, as much a psychologist and futurist as an investment advisor.
-- Inc. Magazine
I began listening to John Spooner's life lessons in 1974 - the value of handwritten notes, being held accountable, the unexpected laugh, the importance of being uncomfortable in another country, not our own, and, above all, attempting to have a deep and bountiful heart. It's all here, just open to any page.
- - Lesley Visser, Hall of Fame Sportscaster
- On Sale
- Apr 3, 2012
- Page Count
- 256 pages
- Business Plus