Ben Bernanke’s 2013 Commencement Speech at Princeton University

The chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, spoke at the 2013 Baccalaureate Ceremony at Princeton University. He titled his speech “The Ten Suggestions.” It’s worth a read. Three highlights below:

7. I’m not going to tell you that money doesn’t matter, because you wouldn’t believe me anyway. In fact, for too many people around the world, money is literally a life-or-death proposition. But if you are part of the lucky minority with the ability to choose, remember that money is a means, not an end. A career decision based only on money and not on love of the work or a desire to make a difference is a recipe for unhappiness.

8. Nobody likes to fail but failure is an essential part of life and of learning. If your uniform isn’t dirty, you haven’t been in the game.

9. I spoke earlier about definitions of personal success in an unpredictable world. I hope that as you develop your own definition of success, you will be able to do so, if you wish, with a close companion on your journey. In making that choice, remember that physical beauty is evolution’s way of assuring us that the other person doesn’t have too many intestinal parasites. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for beauty, romance, and sexual attraction–where would Hollywood and Madison Avenue be without them? But while important, those are not the only things to look for in a partner. The two of you will have a long trip together, I hope, and you will need each other’s support and sympathy more times than you can count. Speaking as somebody who has been happily married for 35 years, I can’t imagine any choice more consequential for a lifelong journey than the choice of a traveling companion.

He’s got some bias in his rosy outlook on politicians in Washington. Nevertheless, if you neglect item 5 on his list, everything else he spoke about has merit.

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