Dear Next Generation: Always Grow and Continue to Learn

It's never too late to create a fulfilling life

Dear Next Generation: Always Grow and Continue to Learn
Dear Next Generation, an advice column from readers to young people. (Photo by Shutterstock)

I read with great interest the article by Frank Monti about advice for young people. I believe my life is very similar but with a different twist and would also be helpful to young people just starting their careers.

I graduated from high school at 16 and college at 20. After college, I started as a statistical analyst at a small consulting firm. By age 22, I was a vice president.

I got there by coming to work early, staying late, and working during weekends and holidays. I worked 50- to 60-hour weeks. I was driven to succeed and did very well financially.

At age 30, I was offered an excellent job at a large, national corporation, which was one of our clients. It was a wonderful job. I had a staff of over 20, including lawyers, accountants, and analysts, but it was demanding and left me with little personal life. I belonged to the corporation. I often had to fly on Sunday to be somewhere by Monday morning and fly home the following Saturday. I was single and played golf. Sometimes, on a weekend, the vice president of sales would call me to play golf with customers. It sounds like fun, but it consumed most of the day.

Again, I was financially successful but not fulfilled. I wasn't cut out for the corporate life. Whereas Mr. Monti turned down a promotion, I simply quit—a gutsy move, but the greatest thing I did for my career.

I became a college professor at age 42. There's a saying that life begins at 40. That was true in my case. Not only did I start a new career, but I got married to a wonderful woman at age 45, my first and only marriage, hers also. We just celebrated our 40th anniversary.

When I started as a professor, I had a bachelor's degree and an MBA. If you want to really succeed in the academic world, you need a doctorate. So I went back to school while still teaching, and with the help of my wife, I got my doctorate at age 47.

I also became a pilot at age 50 and bought an airplane.

One of my themes to young people is to always continue to grow and learn. I am now 85 and planning to learn Swedish. All four of my grandparents were Swedish immigrants.

Being a college professor fulfilled my life. I was doing something useful for society. I have taught more than 10,000 students, many of whom became college professors because of me. Others send me emails thanking me when they get promoted in their job. You don't get rewards like this from many other professions.

I am 85 and just retired this year, and I miss it. Working with young people keeps you young!

Dr. Douglas Lonnstrom, New York


What advice would you like to give to the younger generations?
We call on all of our readers to share the timeless values that define right and wrong and pass the torch, if you will, through your wisdom and hard-earned experience. We feel that the passing down of this wisdom has diminished over time and that only with a strong moral foundation can future generations thrive.
Send your advice, along with your full name, state, and contact information to [email protected] or mail it to: Next Generation, The Epoch Times, 229 W. 28th St., Floor 7, New York, NY 10001.
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