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What a 99 Year Old Wall Street Trader Knows

Although Irene Bergman intended her advice for Wall Street finance types, her wisdom can apply to anyone in any situation.  Bloomberg News recently highlighted Ms. Bergman for her longevity in a notoriously competitive business, stock trading. We can all learn a lesson, if for no other reason, than Ms. Bergman has the weight of a century of life behind her words.

First:

Don’t do anything stupid.

Then, knowing you don’t know everything, study, learn and:

…don’t be afraid of revising your thesis, she said. If thorough research favors a portfolio shift, have courage and make changes.

Even though, Ms. Bergman’s advice referred to making profits from a financial investments, her sentiments can apply to anyone with the maturity to recognize new information, then the humility to revise course.

Of course, trusting one’s experience is essential:

Her family’s post-war [World War II] experience informs her advice today. [Ms. Bergman’s Jewish family fled the Nazis in both Germany and Holland.] Because it took a decade after coming to New York for Bergman to recover her family’s wealth, which was frozen by U.S. and Dutch authorities, she emphasizes the importance of safeguarding funds.

Preparedness can give a degree of confidence that despite any situation, one can weather life’s unpredictability .

Consciously cultivate mind and body:

She said she stayed physically fit by riding dressage horses until she was 80 and mentally sharp by forgoing retirement.

Lastly, be responsible, first to oneself and then for one’s actions:

“I always like to do what I want to do, then it’s my fault,” she said. “I can’t blame anyone else.”

Perhaps, advice is only particularly relevant to those “who’ve lived to tell the tale,” and may fall on deaf ears with the young, who may best profit from such advice.  I share Ms. Bergman’s guidance in the hopes that someone will not have to repeat history…yet expecting that we are destined to hear historical rhymes.