“Today is the only guarantee you get”

Villanova Commencement Address by Pulitzer Prize Winner Anna Quindlen …

“Get a life. Pick up the phone. Send an e-mail. Write a letter. Kiss your Mom. Hug your Dad. Get a life in which you are generous. Look around at the azaleas in the suburban neighborhood where you grew up; look at a full moon hanging silver in a black, black sky on a cold night. And realize that life is the best thing ever, and that you have no business taking it for granted.

I learned to live many years ago. Something really, really bad happened to me, something that changed my life in ways that, if I had my druthers, it would never have been changed at all. And what I learned from it is what, today, seems to be the hardest lesson of all. I learned to love the journey, not the destination. I learned that it is not a dress rehearsal, and that today is the only guarantee you get. I learned to look at all the good in the world and to try to give some of it back because I believed in it completely and utterly. And I tried to do that, in part, by telling others what I had learned. By telling them this:

Consider the lilies of the field. Look at the fuzz on a baby’s ear. Read in the backyard with the sun on your face. Learn to be happy. And think of life as a terminal illness because if you do you will live it with joy and passion, as it ought to be lived. Just keep your eyes and ears open, the classroom is everywhere. The exam comes at the very end. No man ever said on his deathbed, I wish I had spent more time at the office.”

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“Focus on those things you do better than others”

Advice is from Peter G. Peterson, Co-founder and Senior Chairman, Blackstone Group …

“Focus on those things you do better than others. That has been enormously helpful in defining our business strategies. For example, when we [Peterson and co-founder Steve Schwarzman] were setting up the Blackstone Group in 1985, many argued that Blackstone should invest in hostile LBO transactions. We felt that our advantage was that we were on friendly terms with many American CEOs and boards. So we took the contrarian position. We would only do strictly friendly investments. As a result, so-called corporate partnerships have become a major foundation – and a very profitable contribution – to our business.”

“I want my kids to know and feel they are loved for who they are, that I am proud of them and that I will always be there for them”

A must read for all parents, from Dr. Phil’s book Family First

“I want and claim the right for my children to feel appreciated and valued by me and by everyone in our family. I do not want them to ever feel alone or doubt their place in a loving and committed family.

 I want my kids to know and feel they are loved for who they are, that I am proud of them and that I will always be there for them. I may not endorse everything they do, but I will never reject them. If any member of this family feels like their contributions are not being recognized or acknowledged by others in the family, thats not okay-not now, not ever.”