We have all been to funerals.
And we have all heard a eulogy.
But we never think what ours would be like. What will people say about us?
Out of respect, we hope that all the words will be nice. And they usually are making sure the faults we had are conveniently covered over.
Often, we believe that our Eulogy will cover our achievements. Sometimes they do. But rarely have I been to a funeral where there is a mention of the number of businesses owned, or the wealth they created.
It’s usually about their giving, loving nature, how they made people feel, their family and friends. And what they have done for others.
So, when I heard that David Swensen died recently, I thought I would let you know a bit more information about the man.
Now I know what you are thinking. Who the hell is David Swensen and why do you care?
Well, it’s because he was one of the greatest investors of our time.
Swensen was responsible for investing Yale University’s endowment (the money it uses to fund its education).
Over his career, he grew that pot from $US1 billion … to a staggering $US31 billion.
Based on what he did, if he did it privately for himself, he would have become one of the richest men in the world. And it was not as if he did not have the chance. He did – except he chose not to.
Instead, he worked for relatively low pay managing money for Yale because Swensen was driven by the fact that his investment gains helped the institution change young people’s lives.
What was David Swensen’s golden rule for investing? Like Warren Buffett, he hated expensive active managed funds and felt that we should invest in index funds.
Many people spend much of their lives pursuing things that look impressive.
Such as fancy homes. Fancy cars. Money. Power. Respect. Gadgets. Getting to the top of the corporate ladder. Seen as being successful.
Yet the person delivering your eulogy won’t talk about the car you drive, the home you had, the money you have or any of the other things that have been chasing. And that’s because they don’t matter. Just think about it. When was the last time you went to a funeral and the eulogy talked about the person’s cars, home, money or success? It never happens.
Instead, they’ll talk about the kind things you did. The courage you showed. The difference you made.
David Swensen understood this. And his legacy lives on in the hundreds of students whose lives he changed.
So let me ask you. Will your legacy be about cars, homes and success? Or will it make a difference in many lives you have touched?