Blackstone’s Byron Wien Discusses Lessons Learned in His First 80 Years

25-Feb-2013

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A banker turned social finance entrepreneur. Liu-Yue built and managed two social enterprises to help make the world a better place. Liu-Yue co-founded Oxstones Investment Club a social financial education website that helps facilitate the exchange of ideas on emerging alternative investment opportunities along the new Silk Road (emerging markets). Liu-Yue also co-founded Cute Brands, Inc. – Cute and Happy with a Cause! Cute Brands is a cause-oriented, character-based brand licensing and social impact fund that creates social awareness on global issues and societal challenges through character creations, and also supports select charities (WWF, WCS, and ASPCA) through consumerism. A NYC native, Liu-Yue worked as an Executive Associate at M&T Bank in the Structured Real Estate Finance Group. Prior to M&T, he held a number of positions in emerging markets bonds and Latin American equities at SBC Warburg Dillon Read (Swiss Bank), OFFITBANK (the wealth management division of Wachovia Bank), and in small cap equities and special situation investing at Steinberg Priest Capital Management (family office). Liu-Yue has a Bachelor of Science in Finance and Marketing from the Stern School of Business at NYU, and an MBA specializing in investment management and strategy from Georgetown University. He also completed graduate studies in international management at the University of Oxford, Trinity College.







By Byron Wien, From http://www.blackstone.com/news-views/blackstone-blog/blackstone%27s-byron-wien-discusses-lessons-learned-in-his-first-80-years

Here are some of the lessons I have learned in my first 80 years.  I hope to continue to practice them in the next 80.

  1. Concentrate on finding a big idea that will make an impact on the people you want to influence.  The Ten Surprises which I started doing in 1986 has been a defining product.  People all over the world are aware of it and identify me with it.  What they seem to like about it is that I put myself at risk by going on record with these events which I believe are probable and hold myself accountable at year-end.  If you want to be successful and live a long, stimulating life, keep yourself at risk intellectually all the time.
  2. Network intensely.  Luck plays a big role in life and there is no better way to increase your luck than by knowing as many people as possible.  Nurture your network by sending articles, books and emails to people to show you’re thinking about them.  Write op-eds and thought pieces for major publications.  Organize discussion groups to bring your thoughtful friends together.
  3. When you meet someone new, treat that person as a friend.  Assume he or she is a winner and will become a positive force in your life.  Most people wait for others to prove their value.  Give them the benefit of the doubt from the start.  Occasionally you will be disappointed, but your network will broaden rapidly if you follow this path.
  4. Read all the time.  Don’t just do it because you’re curious about something, read actively.  Have a point of view before you start a book or article and see if what you think is confirmed or refuted by the author.  If you do that, you will read faster and comprehend more.
  5. Get enough sleep.  Seven hours will do until you’re sixty, eight from sixty to seventy, nine thereafter which might include eight hours at night and a one hour afternoon nap.
  6. Evolve.  Try to think of your life in phases so you can avoid a burn-out.  Do the numbers crunching in the early phase of your career.  Try developing concepts later on.  Stay at risk throughout the process.
  7. Travel extensively.  Try to get everywhere before you wear out.  Attempt to meet local interesting people where you travel and keep in contact with them throughout your life.  See them when you return to a place.
  8. When meeting someone new, try to find out what formative experience occurred in their lives before they were seventeen.  It is my belief that some important event in everyone’s youth has an influence on everything that occurs afterwards.
  9. On philanthropy my approach is to try to relieve pain rather than spread joy.  Music, theatre and art museums have many affluent supporters, give the best parties and can add to your social luster in a community.  They don’t need you.  Social service, hospitals and educational institutions can make the world a better place and help the disadvantaged make their way toward the American dream.
  10. Younger people are naturally insecure and tend to overplay their accomplishments.  Most people don’t become comfortable with who they are until they’re in their 40’s.  By that time they can underplay their achievements and become a nicer more likeable person.  Try to get to that point as soon as you can.
  11. Take the time to pat those who work for you on the back when they do good work.  Most people are so focused on the next challenge that they fail to thank the people who support them.  It is important to do this.  It motivates and inspires people and encourages them to perform at a higher level.
  12. When someone extends a kindness to you write them a hand-written note, not an e-mail.  Handwritten notes make an impact and are not quickly forgotten.
  13. At the beginning of every year think of ways you can do your job better than you have ever done it before.  Write it down and look at what you have set out for yourself when the year is over.
  14. Never retire.  If you work forever, you can live forever.  I know there is an abundance of biological evidence against this theory, but I’m going with it anyway.

The views expressed in this commentary are the personal views of Byron Wien of Blackstone Advisory Partners L.P. (together with its affiliates, “Blackstone”) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Blackstone itself. The views expressed reflect the current views of Mr. Wien as of the date hereof and neither Mr. Wien nor Blackstone undertakes to advise you of any changes in the views expressed herein.

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