You Shouldn’t Take It With You

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Co-chief executive,
The Carlyle Group

Education: Duke University (magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa), 1970; University of Chicago Law School, 1973.

1973-1975: Practiced law in
New York with Paul, Weiss,
Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.

1975-1976: Served as Chief Counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments.

1977-1981: Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy (Carter Administration).

During 1980s: Practiced law in Washington, D.C., with Shaw, Pittman, Potts & Trowbridge (now Pillsbury, Winthrop, Shaw Pittman).

1987: Co-founded The Carlyle Group, now one of the world’s largest private equity firms.

Rubenstein, a Baltimore native, also has served on numerous prestigious boards, including those of Johns Hopkins Medicine, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Brookings Institution, the University of Chicago, and the National Museum of American History of the Smithsonian Institution.

Hard-Earned Advice for Aspiring Corporate Leaders: “ Do not follow the lead of the Egyptian pharaohs.”

careerfileThe purpose of wealth should be much, much more than the accumulation of homes, yachts, jewels, planes, art, and so many other common symbols of wealth. In truth, you should realize that the greatest value in accumulating wealth is the good you can do to help make your society and your country a better place.

I assure you, from my own experience, that far greater joy has come to me from all the money I have given away than from all the money I have earned. It’s not even close.

Give back to your society, and with more than just your money. Give your time, your ideas, and your energy.

Make a difference on this Earth. Do something that makes your community, your society, your country, and your Earth somewhat better than you found it when you came here. You will ultimately lead a much fuller, more consequential, more meaningful, and, most importantly, more enjoyable and satisfying life if you do so.

Follow the lead of Andrew Carnegie or John D. Rockefeller or Bill and Melinda Gates or Warren Buffett, and so many others who were fortunately able to accumulate more money than they needed and then gave that money away.

Do not follow the lead of the Egyptian pharaohs who wanted to be buried with all their wealth. There honestly is no evidence that you’ll need your wealth in the afterlife.

The Bottom Line

“As you join or rejoin the capitalist system, wherever you live, do not measure your self-worth by your net worth.”

— David Rubenstein remarks from his graduation address at Carey Business School commencement, May 2016

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