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If you’re like me, you may not be familiar with Richard Jenrette, author of The Contrarian Manager. After reading this though, hopefully that changes.
Jenrette is most famous for co-founding the investment bank Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette in 1959, before it got acquired by Credit Suisse for $11.5 billion.
He is also known for his extensive work in restoring historic homes throughout the United States and even in the Caribbean, including Edgewater on the Hudson River, Millford Plantation, Roper House, Ayr Mount, and Cane Garden.
Jenrette was born on April 5, 1929 in Raleigh, North Carolina. He became an insurance salesman upon graduating college and worked with his dad. That didn’t last for long though. He was called and enlisted into the Army during the time of the Korean War. However, after basic training, he did not have to go to Korea to fight. Instead, they sent him to Baltimore, Maryland, to work in Counterintelligence. He worked with quite a few Harvard graduates and quickly realized he could hold his own with them.
After his service, Jenrette went back to work with his dad in insurance. But, he had his eyes set on going to Harvard Business School. He didn’t even bother telling his dad that he applied, as he didn’t know what his dad’s reaction would be.
Long story short, in 1957, Jenrette graduated from Harvard. He said that his experience at Harvard Business School changed his life. Most valuable to him was learning their methodology on finding solutions based on the “big picture” and not always focusing in on specifics.
Jenrette proceeded to work on Wall Street, where he noticed that most of the brokerage firms were chasing after blue chip stocks, while neglecting some of the smaller stock companies out there. He then joined forces with two fellow Harvard grads to start up Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, the first brokerage firm created since the 1930s to focus in on all stocks, not just blue chip stocks.
After he died in April of 2018, a note was found on his desk entitled “What I Learned (How to Succeed) (and Have a Long and Happy Life),” with 24 rules on how to get ahead in finance and in life.
What I Learned (How to Succeed) (and Have a Long and Happy Life)
- Stay in the game. That’s often all you need to do – don’t quit. Stick around! Don’t be a quitter!
- Don’t burn bridges (behind you)
- Remember – Life has no blessing like a good friend! You can’t get enough of them. Don’t leave old friends behind – you may need them
- Try to be nice and say “thank you” a lot!
- Stay informed/KEEP LEARNING!
- Study — Stay Educated. Do Your Home Work!! Keep learning!
- Cultivate friends of all ages – especially younger
- Run Scared — over-prepare
- Be proud — no Uriah Heep for you! But not conceited. Know your own worth.
- Plan ahead but be prepared to allow when opportunity presents itself.
- Turn Problems into Opportunities. Very often it can be done. Problems create opportunities for change — people willing to consider change when there are problems.
- Present yourself well. Clean, clean-shaven, dress “classically” to age. Beware style, trends. Look for charm. Good grammar. Don’t swear so much — it’s not cute.
- But be open to change — don’t be stuck in mud. Be willing to consider what’s new but don’t blindly follow it. USE YOUR HEAD – COMMON SENSE.
- Have some fun – but not all the time!
- Be on the side of the Angels. Wear the White Hat.
- Have a fall-back position. Heir and the spare. Don’t leave all your money in one place.
- Learn a foreign language.
- Travel a lot — around the world, if possible.
- Don’t criticize someone in front of others.
- Don’t forget to praise a job well done (but don’t praise a poor job)
- I don’t like to lose — but don’t be a poor loser if you do.
- It helps to have someone to love who loves you (not just sex).
- Keep your standards high in all you do.
- Look for the big picture but don’t forget the small details.
Here is the actual copy of the note: