Skip To Content
No Mercy No Malice

Advice to Grads: Be Warriors, Not Wokesters

June 11, 2021

Last week, on my way to eat at Jack’s Wife Freda (#awesome) in SoHo, a young woman in a purple gown, with older versions of herself in tow, nearly ran me over. It’s that time of year. Approximately 4 million young adults, and their loved ones, will be forced to listen to someone my age tell them how to clean up the mess our generation is leaving for them.

My bromide: Be warriors, not wokesters.

Be mentally and physically … warriors. Lift heavy weights and run long distances, in the gym and in your mind. Many tasks you’ll be asked to perform early in your career will be tedious. Don’t do what you are asked to do, but what you are capable of doing. Think of it as boot camp before being sent to battle, as there are millions of other warriors fighting to win the same regions of prosperity. Get strong, really strong. You should be able to walk into a room and believe you could overpower, outrun, or outlast every person in the room.

My first job was at Morgan Stanley. I wasn’t as well educated as the other junior analysts. (My fault: UCLA is a sink-or-swim place; I decided to do neither and smoke pot and tread water.) Anyway, at Morgan, every other week I’d go to work Tuesday morning and not leave until Wednesday night. Nobody was at home waiting for me, I had no real hobbies, and in your twenties, if you don’t tell yourself otherwise, you can work 30+ hours straight … easily.

Send a message to your colleagues that you came to play. Many of you will have a gag reflex at my boomer capitalist mentality or some such bullshit. No, it’s America — a platform to deploy skills and grit to add value and garner resources. Every day, America becomes more like itself and becomes a better country … for people who have resources and/or influence.

And what of “balance”? Fine — many people thoughtfully calibrate the tradeoff and fashion a good life for themselves and their families without being obsessed with work and money. Assume you are not that person. If you’re in your twenties and reading this newsletter, you don’t want balance; you’re after influence and relevance. The world isn’t yours for the taking, but for the trying. Try hard, really hard.

Stoicism

Embrace a degree of stoicism for the first 24 to 36 months after graduation. I enjoy alcohol and THC, and used them every day in college. But I took 24 months (mostly) off both as I knew I needed to be in great shape physically and mentally. Whether it’s shopping, gaming, swiping, posting, eating, porn, streaming, or ESPN, take as much of this energy and time for the next couple years and reallocate that human capital to three things: work, relationships, and fitness.

It’s monotonous and likely not sustainable. However, the DNA of your career and professional trajectory is disproportionately, unfairly, set by the early years of your career. Some people blossom in their forties. Most successful people, however, burn a great deal of fuel in their twenties and thirties to ascend through a resistant inner space and make the jump to lightspeed. They cover greater ground in their forties and fifties thanks to the velocity established in their first 20 professional years.

Balance is a myth. There are only trade-offs. Having balance at my age is a function of lacking it at your age. Your call.

The Monk Warrior

Intelligence is the ability to hold two contrary thoughts concurrently. This sounds easier than it is. Our brains are wired for quick assessments. We’re descended from millions of generations of creatures whose ability to synthesize novel stimuli with a lifetime’s data and formulate a faster-than-thought response kept us from becoming another creature’s dinner. Until recently, when strangers encountered each other, only one left alive. But that feature is also a bug. When we react faster than thought, we don’t react thoughtfully. We optimize for short-term emotional satisfaction rather than long-term prosperity.

There is a lot of discussion re what it means to be “woke,” some of it well-founded, some of it hyperbole. Yes, be awake to the privileges and prejudices that surround you and rigorously honest about the world you’re inheriting. But the word has lost that original meaning. Beyond the media noise, an insidious pattern is emerging in academic and professional settings. The insistence on filtering everything through the lens of personal identity and experience. The prioritization of victimhood. The belief that to be offended is to be right.

Structural racism is real, and our economic system is tilted, if not rigged. The most accurate predictor of your opportunities isn’t your intelligence or work ethic but where you’re born. But playing the victim decreases your capacity to be a warrior against these injustices. Pursuing the politics of personal identity ensures you will remain an individual, alienated and alone. Warriors sacrifice for the tribe, but they recognize they are part of a tribe. Separate people from ideology, or you give up access to 50% of potential relationships and allies.

Reacting to every slight and demanding satisfaction from every insult is what the system wants you to do. Joining a Twitter mob seizing on a hapless middle manager or an out-of-touch English professor may feel like justice, but it’s just a cheap drip of dopamine lost in an ocean of social media profits.

Be a warrior. Before you resort to violence, make a thoughtful assessment. Register the intention behind people’s gestures, ideas, and words. Don’t make a caricature of people’s actions and speech so you can draw your sword and feel righteous. Be a highly skilled, devastatingly strong warrior who exerts their power by example and leaves their weapon in its sheath. Forgiveness is strength. Demonstrate it, every day. Be a warrior, not a wokester.

Twenty-nine years ago my classmates selected me as the commencement speaker at Berkeley’s business school graduation ceremony. Mid-speech, I remember looking up and seeing my mom waving both her arms in the air like a swan. She was so proud, she loved me so much. (Hint: Tell people you love and admire them.)

To that point in life, I’d done a reasonably good job with scant grit or commitment. I knew, though, that things would be different moving forward. Soon I would need to take care of a sick parent and demonstrate a level of grit commensurate with the opportunities presented to me. But at that moment I felt a sense of accomplishment, that I was loved, and immense stress that hasn’t waned for three decades. The most rewarding things in life — relationships, work, kids — are all really fucking stressful.

Accomplishment, love, and stress. I wish for you all of these things.

Life is so rich,

P.S. I’ve spoken often about the mendacious influence of a monopoly in search. I’ve voted with my capital and invested in Neeva, an ad-free search engine co-founded by Sridhar Ramaswamy, a former senior vice president at Google. Sridhar joined us on The Prof G Podcast this week to explain how his company is navigating a search market dominated by Google and share the leadership lessons he learned running a 10,000-person team during his 15 years there.

P.P.S. I’m teaching the next Strategy Sprint with Section4. In this two-week intensive course, we’ll go deep on topics that make today’s corporate giants successful and turn those insights into actions you can apply in your own career and business. Sign up now.

126 comments

  1. Nick says:

    Balance is absolutely a myth. When you follow you innate strengths, develop them and find places you can add value, life will not need balancing as everything you do will interconnect.

  2. Maggie says:

    This is pretty compelling. Based on the timeline, it sounds like you are GenX more than you are a boomer. I have to agree that there is work that I did early in my career that laid the foundation for my career in its entirety. My stoicism, however, was through most of uni. I couldn’t afford to fail. Having ‘said’ all of that, I DO think graduates today have it much more difficult than we did as they enter the workforce. If I were to offer advice, it would be — yes — lay that foundation but still — find time for yourself. The colleagues that were my peers early in my career have remained my friends even though we have taken various paths. I cherish the time that I spent with them outside of work hours and — while we do not see each other at work anymore — we are still each others’ support network.

  3. John Doe says:

    Jesus, what a bunch of career-djingo bullshit.

    What does not having fun/getting drunk have to do with stoicism? That’s so surface level I can easily believe what you said about your experience at UCLA.
    Going to work on Tuesday and returning Wednesday night doesn’t send a “I’m here to play” message. It sends another one: “I’m a doormat, exploit me, don’t pay me for all of my work”.
    I gained a ton when I adopted a strict “I leave after 8 hours; I can stay if there is a good reason, but it has to be good and it will be compensated” policy. I’m a professional, my time is valuable.

    Good on you for advertising this pile on fb and handing money to Zuck. Did find it an entertaining read, but not in a way you intended.

    Yours truly,
    A guy who “lifts, runs and reads” like you think you advocate to.

    You’re a parody of a thinker

  4. sugarfrosted says:

    > (My fault: UCLA is a sink-or-swim place; I decided to do neither and smoke pot and tread water.)
    Did you even edit this? This means it’s not a sink or swim place because you made a third option that was neither.

  5. BOOMER says:

    This is exacly… how the old era worked!
    And see where you got us? two world wars! you sound like the heavy capitalism world you live in makes everyone want to kill each other and take his money/job/whatever.
    Think again, its a different time, different people and differnet set of values!
    Rest In Pieces…

  6. Martin says:

    I was directed here from a WSJ article and boy oh boy it must be sweet being a boomer. May I direct your attention to what is commonly known as the Productivity/Pay gap.

    There has to be more incentive than “maybe this will pay off when I’m 50” to justify spending the prime years of your life in a cubicle working your butt off for your boomer boss who makes 5 times your wage and still refers to Excel as “Lotus”

    • fabian says:

      Problem is that nowadays your boomer boss can send your job to some guy somewhere who will make less than 10 times his wage (and get a bonus for the effort).

    • Not Martin says:

      High productivity does not entitle anyone to high pay. If you don’t like your compensation or what you do, go get a new job. If you can’t get a new job, get better at what you want to do. If you can’t get better at what you want to do, do something different. If you are gonna argue you already are great at what you do, you aren’t. Don’t @ me honey sweetie.

      • Robert says:

        Spoken EXACTLY like a clueless Boomer, Not Martin.

      • AbbyAve says:

        100% agreed. Immigrant, scholarships to Dartmouth and UPenn and became a professional. Along the way faced numerous incidents of racism and sexism but had to hustle and get past it. It can be done and I wish for the younger generations, you have to go hustle and hunt for yours.

    • Melissa says:

      To Scott: Not understanding that being able to smoke pot and tread water at UCLA and then land a job at Morgan Stanley was an opportunity and privilege some aren’t afforded because of where they are born is extremely short sighted. Most are not “playing” the victim. As an executive in HR there are so many offenses overlooked before most people complain. They are not being offended by every little thing. Enough is enough and until you realize that no amount of hard work will be enough.

    • BoyOhBoy says:

      If you can’t figure out the “more incentive” of working like a warrior in your 20s (with no-spouse-no-kids), tells me you’re already toast. That you think your 20s are “the prime years of your life” is another clue. Good luck to you, my friend!

  7. Ray Dunaway- says:

    Hi Scott, You probably don’t remember me. You were in the MBA Program at Haas at the same time as my wife, JoAnn Dunaway. I enjoyed your post and believe you are right on. The things I gave up to devote my time and energy to our business were golf, TV and watching professional sports. I’ve never regretted giving those up because it provided time for JoAnn and I to have adventures. And incidentally, make a fair amount of money while having fun.

  8. Will W says:

    I’m in my late 40s and plan on deploying the strategy to up my game now.

  9. joine says:

    These words are incredibly motivating! A good reminder to apply inward pressure. Improve myself. Shut out the noise.

  10. Desert Hey Zeus says:

    These words are incredibly motivating! A good reminder to apply inward pressure. Improve myself. Shut out the noise.

  11. Michael H says:

    Loved this. Thanks so much Scott!

  12. Becky Washington says:

    I am female. I will not be able to “walk into a room and believe you could overpower, outrun, or outlast every person in the room.” Now what?

    • Jake C says:

      Not physically over power but brains and stamina. My wife is a leader. She is wicked smart and has husstle in spades. She ascended to a leadership role in a big well known company. This is what Scott means.

    • Franco says:

      The quote was: “You should be able to walk into a room and believe you could overpower, outrun, or outlast every person in the room.” Someone taught you some bad habits.

      • Franco says:

        Sorry. I see now that you quoted accurately. I think the author means walking in to a room with self-confidence because you earned it with self-disciplined habits. Surely being female doesn’t preclude that.

    • Damon says:

      The key word is ‘believe. Among the many benefits derived from physical training is confidence. I can assure you investing time in physical training regardless of gender in conjunction with mental development pays dividends.

  13. princecharles says:

    TLDR: political belief and action = victimhood, work life balance = bad career move, ruthless dog eat dog careerism = I’m a cool business ninja, everything good in life = stress. LOL how the f&^% did I end up here.

  14. andy says:

    We create our own reality – if that reality is based on achieving more than others in our cohort and one invests attention & engagement on social signals of achievement, recognition via that social currency is likely to follow.

    This is hardly the only game in life, so if you get your life tips from social strivers like Scott and but don’t invest your attention in that game, you’re less likely to find satisfaction with the result.

    This piece ultimately speaks to Scott’s choice of gameplay (here I note that he prefers to be addressed with the honorific “Professor” to place emphasis on the social distance between him and us, because doing so continuously reinforces his success in playing the social status game).

    That said, I think Scott’s choice of game is perfectly fine. He’s managed to stay focused on his gameplay (the rest of us tend to lose track of which game we’re playing amidst the many choices out there). His success does give him an opportunity to share advise to young people, and while I see his advice as self-serving, it’s not wrong.

  15. animesh says:

    This is the best thing I read in a while, how do I print this, anyone? Exactly what a 18 year old like me need to hear.

  16. dave says:

    I usually agree with >50% of Scott’s pieces, or at least find some value and insight. But this piece is almost all crap unless your only interest in life is making a lot of money through working in finance. Too many people like that are the cause of a hefty slice of all the problems in the Western world. There’s also an obvious but unrecognised conflict between Scott’s particular understanding of what working hard actually means (late nights, ‘beating’ everyone else) and the kind of reflective intelligence that he supposedly values.

    • Dave Fitz says:

      Hi Dave. Dave here. I’d respectfully disagree, with the exception of this line: “You should be able to walk into a room and believe you could overpower, outrun, or outlast every person in the room” — That one left me scratching my head. Otherwise, as for the general message, I interpreted this article to mean work as hard as you can because ultimately, we’re responsible for our own successes…not anyone else. The western world’s problems, from my perspective, stem from greed and an apathy for how our actions affect others. IMO Scott’s line of

      “Before you resort to violence, make a thoughtful assessment. Register the intention behind people’s gestures, ideas, and words. Don’t make a caricature of people’s actions and speech so you can draw your sword and feel righteous”.

      To me, this speaks against the greed & self-righteousness that have brought the western world to where we are. Overall I took his message to mean “Your successes will be from your own efforts, don’t get stuck blaming others or expecting others to improve your life…and be thoughtful in the process.”

      • Arjun says:

        Weirdly for me the line about being able to overpower people in a room possibly resonated the most for me. As a 25 year old with a hefty portion of my twenties being lost to the pandemic, I think I’m having an a mid-twenty-life crisis. Thinking on questions like how will my twenties have been defined? And I think the answer I come to is that I want everything, and to get everything I need to really maximise myself to that sort of point.

        • David says:

          same here, overpowering people in a room (metaphorically), is what a warrior is all about, no shrinking back, standing firm.

        • Nate says:

          Hefty portion of your twenties lost already? It’s been just over a year. Don’t let a global catastrophe define your life. Yes, there’s a long way to go, but life will go on, as it has after every other pandemic that swept the globe.

      • Ernie says:

        “You should be able to walk into a room and believe you could overpower, outrun, or outlast every person in the room”
        The key word here is “could”. He did not say “will”. This means being better trained and better prepared than anybody else in the room. It does not mean that you need to dominate.It means you can put what you are working on into a much larger context and do some good for society. You can work towards “win-win” solutions that feel good for everybody.
        That is the monk warrior concept. You avoid a fight but are prepared to win if it can’t be avoided.
        Training and preparation means that you can chart your own course, with much lower risk of being blown off course. It gives credibility and trust from others which is very important for long-term success. It will be very difficult for them to dominate you. You are comfortable in your own skin.
        It is how I approached my career in my 20s. As I approach retirement, I am respected, work on difficult and interesting projects, have a happy family, work with people I like, and don’t engage in much conflict. In areas I am expected to have expertise, I am generally the best trained and best prepared in the room quietly and under the radar screen, so often underestimated, which helps in achieving successful outcomes in rooms filled with unprepared people. Blow-hards and chest-thumpers become annoyances instead of threats because your personal BATNA is often simply walking away which brings everybody back to the table.

  17. gary brandwein says:

    Not a warrior but a middleweight boxer. Power agility and the ability fake, dance, throw combinations , keep opponents off balance, court the judges and the press and out smart opponents without being hit hard or damaged. Great fighters do not sacrifice their body unless they have a delusion of magnificence and they die for it.
    Think of Blake’s great poem of the TIGER. The world is celestial and not a punching bag.

  18. joine says:

    I get paid over $190 per hour working from home with 2 kids at home. I never thought I’d be able to do it but my best friend earns over 15k a month doing this and she convinced me to try. The potential with this is endless……….www.earn96.com

  19. Frederick says:

    Maybe there is a better metaphor out there than “warrior” for how we should engage with life, and with each other? Most of the worthwhile and lasting change in the world has not through been achieved through, and not by warriors.

    • Zero-Gee says:

      SERVANT. How to best be of service to others is likely the way to achieving personal satisfaction and living a good life and a life well-remembered. When you die, you’re not going to have a lot of people come to your funeral and comment on what a great marketing campaign you executed in 2015. They’re going to comment on how generous you were with your time helping them learn or succeed at something, gave them the shot that changed their life, or how you helped them through a rough spot. I like listening to Prof Scott but you always have to remember that most of his ideas are half-baked or less so.

  20. Greg says:

    This is 100% great advice but it is really best suited for middle/upper class kids looking to ensure they build the best trajectory to financial freedom. This is an excellent article for those on the right side of the “tilt.” But what if you suggested taking the warrior disposition to use one’s talents to address injustices as well, that may lead to correcting the tilt. I would have love if your advice included a little bit of justice pursuit and keeping the flames of their wholeness alive.

  21. Mark says:

    So work your arse off to make profit for someone else in your 20s to gain ‘momentum’ to do more fruitful work when older? I don’t buy it. This is an apology for the exploitative capitalist system, and for how normies must fit into it. I want to work hard for something I love. I want to be prepared to do it, well-educated. But volunteering for slavery after college doesn’t prepare you for anything except resentment and burnout.

    • Mark says:

      Not sure what wokeness has to do with any of this. It’s just another loaded term to keep people fighting with each other on social media. People profit from it. But not you.

    • Connor Diday says:

      I’m not quite sure, he doesn’t suggest (in this journal) that you have to be working for someone else in order to do create that momentum.

    • Benjamin says:

      I see this criticism very often when successful influencers (like Scott) or CEOs or VC folks give advice to younger people, telling them to work harder, work weekends, work more.

      I agree that you shouldn’t work solely for someone else’s behalf. Your health, wellbeing, and life your priority. I also wanted to share my perspective:

      I find that the work I do–while it does benefit a company–also provide me access and opportunities to learn far beyond what I can do on my own. I’m in a community of people (my coworkers) that I wouldn’t have access or proximity to, there are tools and resources that I can use at scale. So I do often work nights and weekends, but the extra hours are by choice to get more experience and benefit myself, which I think often gets lost in these articles.

  22. Warren Weiss says:

    As a 58 year old boomer who finds himself in grad school completing an MBA, I quite enjoyed your article. I recognize that I’m somewhat of an outlier from a temporal perspective as well as the point in my career life cycle and or trajectory. Ostensibly, I find myself in a position where I’ve as far as I can and in such disposable society where at my age one needs to reinvent or oneself or demonstrate an extreme level of agility to be seen as relevant in such quickly changing environments. Clearly, completing grad school is both. In my case, having been the work force for many years I’ve acquired skills and experience that arguably is equivalent to “paying the dues”. I recognize that I need a a vehicle to pivot out of financial services and into consulting and the MBA is that vehicle; this is about transformation into something I am passionate about and will enjoy rather than continuing the race to a heart attack in an industry that no matter how much success you’ve had in the past, you’re only as good as your last month and in most cases are viewed as nanoscopic cog in a huge machine.
    I’m at the stage in life where time is becoming extremely scarce and no amount of wealth can purchase it so making the most of a this limited resource is crucial , Staying relevant and having options for myself is the key and fortunately realizing this and having the necessary resources gives the opportunity to go back to school
    and be a self employed employed consultant. My time in the force has also afforded the time to network over the years which will help greatly with my ” renaissance”. Thanks for another dose of wisdom. Loved the book on COVID.
    Cheers!

  23. Dr K says:

    Scott,
    I love 95% of your wisdom and passion and most of your article is spot on advice. Except for the 38-year-old M&A genius who has a nervous breakdown from over work, the 41-year-old IT manager diagnosed with an incurable brain cancer, and the family of four split apart by two 40-something parents working 60 hours a week each. Yes, all real people. And I could give you a hundred more examples of people who have sacrificed themselves on the altar of work.
    Balance is possible. Look to Scandinavia for some good examples.

    • Alex says:

      Agree by and large. I think early investments in career have out sized ROI but peace of mind is priceless and I left after a summer in investment banking because I lost my serenity. I work hard but treat myself well nowadays. In my early 20s I did not, clearly trying to fill a void or prove something, and led to burnout and a downward spiral of depression.

    • Alex says:

      Agree by and large . I think early investments in career have out sized ROI but peace of mind is priceless and I left after a summer in investment banking because I lost my serenity. I work hard but treat myself well nowadays. In my early 20s I did not, clearly trying to fill a void or prove something, and led to burnout and a downward spiral of depression.

  24. Linda says:

    Once again you have hit the proverbial though illusive nail on its head. I would send this to my son but he has told me he isn’t interested in my suggestions.

    • Al says:

      I’m sorry to hear that, Linda. I hope you find someone that wants and cherishes your suggestions.

  25. Tony says:

    Completely agree with all of this. I’m 61 and I come from a different time than now, a time worse and better in many ways. Smoked all the pot there was. Dropped out of college. Then I went to work. Just sold my business of 26 years for just under 1B. I hope readers can take all this in deeply enough to drown out the noise of a pop culture that encourages identification with victimhood. I just finished teaching an entrepreneurship MBA class using The Hero’s Journey as it’s template. The responsibility it engendered was electrifying and surprising to many of the students. Carpe diem. Rock on…

    • S James says:

      “Identity with victimhood”. Wow. You have no place teaching. You have no idea what people are going through You’re entitled, ignorant, sitting on 18, and pontificating.

      I suggest you really try to listen and understand what people are saying.

      • Tom says:

        teaching: giving students a new set of skills by which they can be better people/more successful. You: yes, we can’t. Hooray!

      • Matt says:

        If i ask my 6, 7 year olds all of their life experiences, complaints…i will get tons of it. Opening up and listening to EACH persons experience and problems leads to….well NOTHING. Life doesnt care about your problems.

  26. Susie Lansing says:

    As a mother of two “young adults” in their 20s, and a career person in AI technology, I love and believe this advice–not just for my son and daughter, but as a reminder for myself. It’s still relevant even as I am well–nearly 4 decades–into my career.

  27. Jeff says:

    Enjoyed the balance in this piece.

  28. Humana says:

    The trick is EITHER alcohol OR weed. Don’t mix drugs.

  29. Catherine says:

    Mostly good advice, though I am beginning to believe that the word woke has become another clickbait keyword. Put it in any title and both the lovers and the haters will flock to it. Also, most people seem to give it their own definition and then blame everything they don’t like about life on it – or people who listen to ‘woke’ media. Its the same with the word Millennial and the newly minted ‘GenZ’ labels – many titles with these words are also just clickbait with not much to say, but do everything they can to hype their audience one way or another, whichever way will bring in the most profit from their niche. My ‘GenX’ advice to grads: learn to discern when you’re being manipulated, and try to turn down the flucking judgmental bs – because its easier to take responsibility for yourself and walk in your own shoes. And oh yeah – wear sunscreen. 😉

  30. Eric says:

    This is the most spot-on article I’ve read in a very long time. I can think of no better advice at graduation.

  31. Todd says:

    Get woke go broke

  32. R says:

    Better yet, be the woke warrior

  33. Gus Courtauld says:

    Be a warrior. What a statement.
    Ignore the hate Prof G. This kind of message is powerful: it needs to be put through a loud speaker and listened to by every student currently graduating (like myself). Big love,
    From Cambridge, England.

  34. Anshul says:

    Professor

    You just blow me away sometimes. Just too good. Never stop writing.

    Best
    Anshul
    India

  35. John Azevedo says:

    Instead of working 30 hours straight, consider working only 8-10 hours and saving a couple hours a day to nonverbally connect to source. You’ll feel better and you won’t spend all your resources climbing to the top of a ladder only to find that you had it up against the wrong wall.

  36. Doug Farren says:

    Blunt, honest, and pretty much on point as always Prof G. Warrior on

  37. S James says:

    I’m a big fan and normally in agreement with you but not this time – at least not the way you’ve presented and articulated the issue.

    First, I find the title unnecessarily provocative – like you’re chasing eyeballs – and second misleading.

    First, “wokester” is belittling but I’ll leave it at that for now. What does it mean to be “woke”? It was originally black slang (or some may prefer “urban”) before it became common parlance and used to connote being conscious or awake. That’s all it is and, especially for someone like you who raises issues and makes all of us conscious, I think it’s hypocritical for you to say in your headline essentially ‘don’t be conscious’ and ‘just think what they tell you and do what they say’.

    I know that’s not what you’re about and that’s why I say it comes across like someone – maybe you or staff – was just trying to be provocative. Being provocative is fine but don’t be reckless like that – it’s sloppy and people will read it wrong.

    More troublesome is how the article encourages people to just take it – “Forgiveness is a strength”. What do you mean by that? You can’t say that flatly if you understand the issue. Don’t you know that people have been “forgiving” forever? And you can’t characterize it as “reacting to every slight and demanding satisfaction”. Are you saying all things people are reacting to are “slights”?

    Is what Roger Ailes did at Fox a “slight” and should women at Fox News continue to “forgive” Roger Ailes? (Many did just want you state in your article for many years – they “forgave”.) Should Penn State players keep quiet about their “slight” and “forgive” Sandusky? Should African Americans just take the “slight” and continue to “forgive” their superiors for belittling them, passing them over or the seemingly incessant microaggressions which have major consequences?

    The point is people – women, homosexuals, people of color – have been in “forgiving” “slights” for decades and what we have are the Roger Ailes of the world, Dennis Hasert’s, etc.

    I get your point and you’re of course partially right. But as you know it’s a matter of degree and context is paramount. The issue isn’t black and white like the article presents. The issue is grey – where you draw the line, when do you stand up, when do you say something. That’s the issue.

    Presenting it flatly, categorically, without context, tells me you just don’t understand it. Of course, I know you would never say oh just just take it all – but someone reading your post without any such context will think black or white when what people need are the shades of grey.

    S James

    • Matius says:

      Dude, you’re so smart. And did I forget to mention virtuous? Now that we all agree that you are correct and thus affirm your existence, kindly shut up.

    • Todd says:

      Idk what world you live in where you see all of these injustices happening to lgbtq and blacks . The majority of what your talking about happens to white people. Most Americans after the blm riots see blacks as some backwards race and which if you have to add a color before lives matter you are racist.

      • Brad says:

        Oh, Todd, Toddster, the Toddmeister… you’ll always be our special boy.

      • S James says:

        Sounds like you’re one of those “most Americans”. Todd – “get woke go broke” you and your brethren are not worth the time and energy. Stay frustrated and fragile.

    • Garrison Gowens says:

      You literally phrased this perfectly. I agree completely.

  38. Gary Helminski says:

    Beautiful Scott. This is one I will share broadly.
    Your content is spot on, and you say it so well.
    Thanks for all you do. You are making the world a better place.

    • S James says:

      It’s an oversimplification and polarizing. Your intended recipient is better off not reading it.

      • Boris Badenov says:

        I think if their intended recipient isn’t someone who looks for offense in every word, they will probably get a lot out of it

  39. Sam JJ says:

    Thank you so much Scott. I don’t often agree with you but this time I really do and it made me far less regretful of the choice I made to work my arse off in my 20’s, burning the midnight oil on both ends, not going out a lot, not drinking much, and focused on doing great work. I used to wonder if I over worked during my youth and now I know that no, I wasn’t the only one and that was probably the right choice. I actually started out woke, became a warrior and now I am a woke warrior 🙃

  40. Jenn S says:

    This is a commencement speech— a roadmap to paving a bright and rich future. So good! So much truth!!

  41. Ariel mintz says:

    Why is it such a given that being successful will make your life better? Maybe some people feel that if they’re not successful they won’t be happy in life, but is that true for everyone? I think we idolize the successful and hard working person in America and people get convinced that that’s what they need from their life, but it’s not true for most people. It also feeds an idea for people that they’re not happy because they’re not working hard enough, which is very bad in my opinion.

  42. Ripmeister says:

    Thanks for the wise words Prof G, you are the truly awake few amongst a sea of sleeping wokesters!

  43. fabrizio ladi says:

    Yes be a Warrior and spend well your energy and focus, but above all choose your war: one with the odds in your favor! there are many ways to live your life also -outside the matrix – whichever one you are in now! Dare yes dare to create your own game.

  44. Patrick A Fekula says:

    Scott,
    Regarding your advice to today’s graduates, “Well said!”
    I’m a 70-year-old, who retired after a 45-year career in not-for-profit and human resources work. I wish I had read your comments when I graduated from Lehigh University in 1973. Keep up the good fight!

  45. Monica says:

    In my opinion your 20s are for exploring the world and finding out who you are and what you want to do. Your 30s are for having kids and working your butt off. At least that’s usually the way here in New Zealand (for the middle class anyway), where the “overseas experience” is a rite of passage. When you live at the arse-end of the world you have to get out of there to figure out that you are better off where you started.

  46. Jonathan says:

    Probably the best one to date. Keep up the great work, Scott.

  47. Levi says:

    Nice article prof.

    I took the same approach. Worked pretty hard and have founded two businesses besides my study (no joke). Sold the first and the second is doing well.
    I also got a burnout at age 24.
    I find it hard to find balance between your words, which I deem true, and not going too far.
    Hope I will find my balance, and I’d like to encourage all youngsters out there to be kind to yourself and allow yourself evenings and weekends off!

  48. Henry Lyons says:

    How about getting married and spending time with your children? Is that permitted in Scottworld?

  49. C says:

    Great advice. But, the root of woke evil are those in academia too timid and cowardly to stand up for what is right or just. They let the emerald city of Tenure destroy their integrity. Women who believe they need to act like the men they hate. Men who are desperate for women’s approval. My generation did sow the seeds of this generation, but academia fertilized them.

    While you are talking to graduates, maybe turn to the stage and talk to the administration.

    • Noah Brendt Stephens says:

      Just out of curiosity, who did you vote for in 2020?

      • Arunas Nesavas says:

        Just out of curiosity, how many of the words below have you used in the last 2 weeks?

        Equality
        Cisgender
        Undocumented Immigrant
        Gender
        Body positive
        Nazi
        White supremacist
        Racist
        Reparations
        Latinx

  50. Rob Graham says:

    Amazing Scott, really hit the nail on the head. Thank you.

  51. Millennial says:

    Thank you for articulating what so many people in my generation need to understands. Wokeness is destructive to individuals, communities, and our country. Equity in outcomes has never worked and is diametrically opposed to equality of opportunity. Americans are builders and strivers. With plentiful and easier access to funding, talent, and technology, there has never been a better time to start businesses and succeed. Future generations will benefit from new learning platforms like Section4 and Synthesis School that focus on how to think, instead of our broken traditional education system that focuses on what to think.

  52. Yassin Abo El Nour says:

    Thanks for articulating what I’ve struggled to for ages:
    The world may be an unfair place, but being “woke” in the trending sense is not contributing to improving anyone’s lot.

  53. mdv59 says:

    “Don’t do what you are asked to do, but what you are capable of doing.” That is really the key. I would add that as you get into your 30’s and 40’s you’ll find your biggest asset is the track record you’ve established as someone who is reliable and delivers on what they promise.

    • mm says:

      In my experience, this is 100% correct. The key to my success, as a person who retired at 56 having founded zero companies and inherited zero wealth.

  54. Todd Greenbaum says:

    Thank you, Scott. I have forwarded this to my children (25,22,20). The younger generation will benefit from this assessment.

  55. Erin says:

    Thank you! I’m closer in age to you with a 3 children at points in their life that this relates to, yet it relates to me. I’ve run a small chocolate manufacturing wholesale and and online retail business. I’m reorganizing and moving on soon. I appreciate your honest comments and also view your podcast with the sister from another mister as a comedy show at times. Thank you!!!!

  56. CCPMM says:

    This is your best post ever. It resonates with truth as I know it. Thank you.

  57. Rahul Garg says:

    That was a great read sir and I completely agree with you on this. I myself had to learn a few of the above mentioned things the hard way when I lost my job after venting out the built-up frustration inside of me at my boss. Although, there were multiple reasons for the frustration to have built up in the first place including all the usual suspects namely being overlooked, lack of recognition and monotony but the tipping point came when I was supposedly frustrated about the work-life imbalance and a minor provocation resulted in me lambasting my boss. I regret it till day, and only now do I realise how ungrateful I was towards my work and the opportunities I had in my hands, all of which was lost in a minor fit of rage. Till date I haven’t been able to find work and I am in my late twenties, and after reading this article the belief that work is everything at this stage in life has been reaffirmed in me and have vowed to make work and studies (MBA) the top most priorities.

  58. Pat Connolly says:

    one of your very best posts yet….maybe the best. My first job out of college(with a degree in mechanical engineering) was as a production supervisor at a P&G plant. The plant manager was the youngest in the entire company–at 28. I asked him for advice. He said “You have to get above the thundering herd in the first five years”. He was right.

  59. Paul says:

    Somewhat along these lines. I heard some people are now declaring math as racist. Of all the items of education this seems the least racist. China, India, and Russia don’t give a F if it is, and it really isn’t racist. Being Woke is often being blind to logic. Gene Simmons of KISS says you should work 7 days a week when you are young and not be going on vacations. He feels this sets you up for success. Perhaps the odd Gene philosophy is overkill, but your 20s is a good time to work very hard to make the next possible 80 years much more enjoyable.

  60. 6'4 200 IQ Scott Galloway Respecter says:

    “Lift heavy weights” is very crowded life advice. There are dozens of other personalities who have build entire brands around this. Will you please post a 400lb deadlift video to establish at least a little credibility?

    Same on the “woke” hedging. This seems like a very weak, limp stance. If you believe “woke” ideology is almost completely correct, and “woke” ideology includes modes of action, how can you pretend to hedge like this?

    I recognize your talents Scott, but I think these ideas above need to be developed further.

  61. José Eduardo Salgado says:

    Thank you Professor, I completely agree this is the path at the start of your career, if you are able to build those habits you will be developing the capabilities that will put you in a great position further down the road, experience and relationships will be strengthened by this.

  62. Jack Dorsey's Nosering says:

    Totally agree with everything regarding the woke stuff. However, you constantly pelt us with stuff about balance being a myth. While that works in traditional management/analyst type roles, it totally ignores the faster growing engineering based roles. (prediction: in 20 years, you won’t be able to have a corporate office job without being able to code) Maybe I’m just remarkable. (I’m not, I got rejected by my teir 3 school and had to go to community college before getting in) I’ve enjoyed flexible work (before covid), well above average income for someone my age, not living in an expensive big city, all with great work life balance. Sure I had to work my ass off and pull all nighters in college, but I haven’t worked over 50 hours a week ever in my career. Maybe I’m that person you say to assume you are not? Doubtful, as many of my peers enjoy the same lifestyle. I know a lot of software engineers listen to your stuff, and that may work for the ones who want to work at FAANG, but there’s a clear split between those who do and don’t.
    Coding + automation (sometimes automating work tasks) = more productive = less working time = more balance. I’m not “Ok Boomer”ing you, just pointing out that while software is eating the world it’s belching out more free hours to those who build it. I love you Scott.

    • Jacob says:

      I see what you’re saying, but with these types of positions, wouldn’t the end goal of coding automations to make ur job easier be to automate your entire job until you are no longer necessary? It feels like nowadays anyone can learn to code or outsource it to someone cheaper. With the extra free time at home are you sleeping in or doing more? Although there may not be endless work to do at the job, you could be taking night classes and trying to become more knowledgeable and valuable. Don’t get too comfortable, that’s my takeaway.

  63. Derek Beckman says:

    I find this to be excellent advice. even in my thirties(closer to 40). As I try to reinvent my career from uneducated, languishing in an entry level position, several times failed entrepreneur(karate studios are hard, but i had trouble kicking the habit), into real estate. Its important to put in the work, and to do it longer than others are willing. thank you for the reminder

  64. Mike R says:

    I really wish I’d read this at 24 (or younger) instead of 34.

  65. Henry says:

    I struggled with this one until I came to terms that it was written by an American for Americans living with an American perspective.

    For an African, living in America, with a mix of British (colonial), African (tribal), and American (imperial) perspective, a lot of this lands as nonsense.

    • Bea says:

      interesting – I had a similar thought (and I am an American) “musings of a white guy” – curious where Scott falls on the “not intelligence or work ethic but where you’re born” continuum – just seems that it might easier to castigate those “playing the victim,” when one is riding high on the teeter-totter.

      • Daniel says:

        Indeed. Often those whose trees have grown tall above the canopy have forgotten how dark and stinky the ground level is.

    • peter glowacki says:

      Your mindset in life is a choice. I’ve never met any successful person that had a victim mentality. There are many successful people of all different races and ethnicities that populate this great country. Many ethnicities that came to this country suffered extreme prejudice as they assimilated. It is not unique to any one race. The only difference is who allows themselves to be used as a pawn for those that profit from the poverty/victimhood industry.

      • Noah Brendt Stephens says:

        It’s not a “victim mentality” if people have been systematically victimized.

        • Tom says:

          Sorry to say, all races are racist to some degree. The difference is that blacks treat each other worse than they treat other races. Kids don’t get a decent education because there is no culture of support and mutual success, rather everything is a zero sum game and Dwayne’s success comes at the expense of Shawn. Ever notice the culture of trash talk in sports? It is the norm in basketball, football etc among black athletes. It is far less common among white athletes. A cultural difference that makes a huge difference in life prospects.

    • Tom says:

      I really wish that I understood what you are saying. But I get stuck on American “Imperialism”. You mean in the traditional sense of subjugating a foreign power? Marshall Plan and Dodge Plan indicates otherwise. USA has pumped BILLIONS into countries to help create infrastructure. The USA, like democracy, is the worst…except for all the others…

  66. Denise Butchko says:

    Completely love this post Scott! Wish I’d seen it 20 years ago 🙂

    • Jacqueline says:

      Youth is wasted on the young, and I am guilty as charged. It would be wild if you could go back to 18 with your current knowledge of life. I would have eaten a lot more vegetables for starters.

  67. Erica says:

    “We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.” – Jim Rohn

  68. Ankur says:

    Scott! I love you for speaking your truth and sharing it with the world ❤️

    • Rodger says:

      I’m a late boomer myself. My parents grew up with bomb raid drills during WWII so I agree that the warrior attitude should be a reality of being ready in every way imaginable. History repeats itself unfortunately so being prepared with a wise warrior mentality will help one’s awareness and perspective of the world not just the USA.

  69. Lee Lau says:

    I predict this headline will trigger some people.

    • Dr. Kurt Malkoff says:

      Nailed it. You finally have a seat at my ideal dinner party since I told Einstein he was relegated to eating in the kitchen. That E equals MC square thing just gets boring after awhile.I’ve also included Ray Dalio so you will have someone to talk to but that’s if he ever stops talking about himself!As always, great article. This is the stuff I’ve been telling my patients for 50 years. It’s true and it works.

      • Dr Steve Kane says:

        As usual, a treasure trove of useful wisdom from the Prof. Except for the 28-year-old M&A specialist who commits suicide from burnout, the P&G middle manager diagnosed with an incurable cancer or the family of four completely torn apart by the divorce of two parents working 65 hours each a week. Balance is possible; see much of Scandinavia for a multitude of examples.
        Don’t get me wrong as I am a huge fan of Scott’s. But as my dad used to tell me, “son, life is short even when it’s long.”

  70. paul ehrmann says:

    “At six o clock, I shoulder ax/and in the afterglow/I link a line of shadowy tracks/across the drifted snow.

    I see for nature no defeat/In one trees overthrow/Nor for myself in my retreat/For yet another blow.” Robert Frost