MONEY Workplace

Great Career Advice from 2015 College Commencement Speeches

A host of incredibly wealthy and successful commencement speakers told the class of 2015 to follow their passion and not worry about getting rich.

Graduation season is in full swing, and with it come the parades of 20-somethings in flowing gowns, doting families snapping photos, and, of course, star-studded commencement speeches.

Some of the past weeks’ remarks were emotional, others were comical, and a few were just plain terrible (sorry, Duke grads). But many were filled with inspiring life and career lessons from leaders across industries. Here’s a look at a few of the most insightful.

 

  • Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc.

    Apple CEO Tim Cook
    Alex Brandon—AP

    George Washington University

    “You don’t have to choose between doing good and doing well … Work takes on new meaning when you feel you are pointed in the right direction. Otherwise it’s just a job, and life is too short for that.”

    Cook also offered some wisdom from his former boss, the late Steve Jobs: “I always figured that work was work. Steve didn’t see it that way … He was an idealist … He convinced me that if we worked hard and made great products, we, too, could help change the world.”

    “Your challenge is to find work that pays the rent, puts food on the table, and lets you do what is right and good and just,” Cook advised.

  • Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrophysicist

    150521_EM_CommencementAdvice_Tyson
    Don Treeger—The Republican via AP

    University of Massachusetts Amherst

    “Your grades, whatever is your GPA, rapidly becomes irrelevant in your life… I cannot begin to impress upon you how irrelevant it becomes. Because in life, they aren’t going to ask you your GPA.”

    “I think on some level, role models are overrated … Growing up in the Bronx, had I required, as a prerequisite, that another black man from the Bronx had become an astrophysicist for me to become one, I’d still be in the Bronx.”

  • Former President George W. Bush

    150521_EM_CommencementAdvice_Bush
    Clayton T. Smith—Southern Methodist University

    Southern Methodist University

    “Those of you who are graduating this afternoon with high honors, awards and distinctions, I say well done … And, as I like to tell the C-students, you too can be president.”

  • Mary Karr, Poet

    150521_EM_CommencementAdvice_Karr2
    Stephen Sartori—Syracuse University

    Syracuse University

    “If you can get curious about what scares or infuriates you, especially if it’s part of yourself, you can get way less scared.”

  • Colin Powell, Former Secretary of State

    150521_EM_CommencementAdvice_Powell
    LaVergne

    Rice University

    “Leadership is all about followership. Leaders put followers in the best possible environment to accomplish a unit mission or an organizational mission. It works in the Army; it works in the university; it works in any endeavor in the world where humans come together to achieve a purpose.”

  • First Lady Michelle Obama

    Michelle Obama150521_EM_CommencementAdvice_Obama
    Brynn Anderson—AP

    Tuskegee University

    “Throughout this journey I have learned to block everything out and focus on my truth. I had to answer some basic questions for myself: Who am I? No, really, who am I? What do I care about?”

  • Tom Brokaw, Journalist

    150521_EM_CommencementAdvice_Brokaw
    Laura Greene—AP

    High Point University

    “Don’t be afraid to be disruptive; find new ways to do the conventional and the useful; and don’t run from big and bold challenges.”

  • Mellody Hobson, Chair, DreamWorks Animation

    150521_EM_CommencementAdvice_Hobson
    Gus Ruelas—Unversity of Southern California

    University of Southern California

    “A lot of graduation speeches will encourage you to be passionate about something. I’m here to encourage you to be passionate about someone … For me, it was career. Business. Those were my priorities. It took me a long time to be as brave in my personal life as I was in my professional life.”

  • Condoleezza Rice, Former Secretary of State

    150521_EM_CommencementAdvice_Rice
    Stephen Salpukas—College of William & Mary

    College of William and Mary

    “You’re headed into a world where optimists are too often told to keep their ideals to themselves. Don’t do it. Believe in the possibility of human progress and act to advance it.”

    “Your passion may be hard to spot, so keep an open mind and keep searching,” Rice said. “And when you find your passion, it is yours, not what someone else thinks it should be. Don’t let anyone else define your passion for you because of your gender or the color of your skin.”

TIME Depression

These are the Most Depressed Workers

businessman-working-late-office
Getty Images

One in five young workers have been depressed, according to the survey.

One in five millennials said they have been depressed on the job, the most of any age group, a new survey found.

That’s compared with 16% of Baby Boomers and 16% of Gen Xers, according to Mashable.

Bensinger, DuPont & Associates, a firm that provides employee drug testing and assistance for problems like gambling, published the survey, Depression and Work: The Impact of Depression on Different Generations of Employees, to coincide with National Mental Health Awareness Month. The study said that depressed employees are more likely to function poorly at work.

There was no word on why millennials, born from 1978 to 1999, are more depressed than other groups. Baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964 while Gen Xers were from 1965 to 1977.

The article continued:

Other impacts of depression in the workplace include absenteeism (missing work), tense work relationships or conflicts, and receiving verbal or written disciplinary action as a result of depression.

“While major depression affects 10% of [American employees], an overwhelming 75% of people with depression don’t receive formal treatment,” Marie Apke, chief operating officer for Bensinger, DuPont & Associates, said in a statement. “Depression costs the economy more than $23 billion annually due to absenteeism. While recent public health initiatives continue to enhance and expand our understanding of the social and economic costs of depression, it’s clear more work is needed to combat depression in the workplace.”

MONEY 401(k)s

How the New-Model 401(k) Can Help Boost Your Retirement Savings

150521_RET_NewModel401k
Betsie Van Der Meer—Getty Images

As old-style pensions disappear, today's hands-off 401(k)s are starting to look more like them. And that's working for millennials.

If you want evidence that the 401(k) plan has been a failed experiment, consider how they’re starting to resemble the traditional pensions they’ve largely replaced. Plan by plan, employers are moving away from the do-it-yourself free-for-all of the early 401(k)s toward a focus on secure retirement income, with investment pros back in charge of making that happen.

We haven’t come full circle—and likely never will. The days of employer-funded, defined-benefit plans with guaranteed lifetime income will continue their three-decade fade to black. But the latest 401(k) plan innovations have all been geared at restoring the best of what traditional pensions offered.

Wall Street wizards are hard at work on the lifetime income question. Nearly all workers believe their 401(k) plan should have a guaranteed income option and three-in-four employers believe it is their responsibility to provide one, according to a BlackRock survey. So annuities are creeping into the investment mix, and plan sponsors are exploring ways to help workers seamlessly convert some 401(k) assets to an income stream upon retiring.

Meanwhile, like old-style pensions, today’s 401(k) plans are often a no-decision benefit with age-appropriate asset allocation and professionally managed investment diversification to get you to the promised land of retirement. Gone are confusing sign-up forms and weighty decisions about where to invest and how much to defer. Enrollment is automatic at a new job, where you may also automatically escalate contributions (unless you prefer to handle things yourself and opt out).

More than anything, the break-neck growth of target-date funds has brought about the change. Some $500 billion is invested in these funds, up from $71 billion a decade ago. Much of that money has poured in through 401(k) accounts, especially among our newest workers—millennials. They want to invest and generally know they don’t know how to go about it. Simplicity on this front appeals to them. Partly because of this appeal, 40% of millennials are saving a higher percentage of their income this year than they did last year—the highest rate of improvement of any generation, according to a T. Rowe Price study.

With a single target-date fund a saver can get an appropriate portfolio for their age, and it will adjust as they near retirement and may keep adjusting through retirement. About 70% of 401(k) plans offer target-date funds and 75% of plan participants invest in them, according to T. Rowe Price. The vast majority of investors in target-date funds have all their retirement assets in just one fund.

“This is a good thing,” says Jerome Clark, who oversees target funds for T. Rowe Price. Keeping it simple is what attracts workers and leads them to defer more pay. “Don’t worry about the other stuff,” Clark says. “We’ve got that. All you need do is focus on your savings rate.”

Even as 401(k) plans add features like auto enrollment and annuities to better replace traditional pensions, target-date funds are morphing too and speeding the makeover of the 401(k). These funds began life as simple balanced funds with a basic mix of stocks, bonds and cash. Since then, they have widened their mix to include alternative assets like gold and commodities.

The next wave of target-date funds will incorporate a small dose of illiquid assets like private equity, hedge funds, and currencies, Clark says. They will further diversify with complicated long-short strategies and merger arbitrage—thus looking even more like the portfolios that stand behind traditional pensions.

This is not to say that target-date funds are perfect. These funds invest robotically, based on your age not market conditions, so your fund might move money at an inopportune moment. Target-date funds may backfire on millennials, who have taken to them in the highest numbers. Because of their age, millennials have the greatest exposure to stocks in their target-date funds and yet this generation is most likely to tap their retirement savings in an emergency. What if that happens when stock prices are down? Among still more concerns, one size does not fit all when it comes to investing. You may still be working at age 65 while others are not. That calls for two different portfolios.

But the overriding issue is that Americans just don’t save enough and a reasonably inexpensive and relatively safe investment product that boosts savings must be seen as a positive. With far less income, millennials are stashing away about the same percentage of their earnings as Gen X and boomers, according to T. Rowe Price. That’s at least partly thanks to new-look 401(k)s and the target-date funds they offer.

Read next: 3 Ways to Build a $1 Million Nest Egg Despite Lower Investment Returns

MONEY Love + Money

The Single Most Important Money Talk for Couples

The Voorhes

A new MONEY poll of millennial and boomer couples suggests that getting on the same page about your biggest money goal —retirement— leads to a happier and stronger union.

Married for 38 years, San Jose couple Carol and Ron Beck started getting serious about retirement in their mid-thirties. By that time, they had two kids and realized they needed to be thinking about their family’s future. So they set some savings goals, and continued talking about their plans in the years and decades that followed. Ron planned to retire around 65, and did. Carol is expecting to quit in the next two years. “We’re still deciding where we’d like to retire to,” Ron says. But even on that they have a good idea: a home near their daughter in Monterey, Calif.

There’s no question that couples need to plan together for retirement. In fact, since amassing the requisite amount of money will take time, retirement should typically be first on the list of priorities. “When it comes to goals, everything else comes next,” says Elizabeth Grahsl, a financial planner in Dallas.

A new MONEY poll of boomer and millennial couples suggests that we may need a little more help with this goal then we think. Some 79% of millennials and 91% of boomers surveyed say they are in agreement with their partners on saving for retirement. But MONEY also found that, among people who are married or living with a significant other, one in 10 boomers and four in 10 millennials don’t know their partner’s retirement account balance, while 14% of boomers and 40% of millennials don’t know when their partner plans to retire. That backs up a 2013 Fidelity poll that found that 38% of couples disagree on the lifestyle they expect, 36% on where they will live, and 32% on whether they will work. The costs of not being aligned are substantial: You could end up with less than you need at the finish line.

Here’s how you can avoid such a fate while strengthening your union and your finances.

Know your retirement wish lists. Since the amount of savings you need depends on your wants, create a “vision plan” together, says Brad Klontz, a financial psychologist and the author of Mind Over Money. Both of you should write down at what age you want to retire, where you want to live, and what you expect your life to look like. Do you want to stay put, downsize … sail around the world? “Come to the table with your dreams,” Klontz says. “Where you agree, it will be easy to adjust your finances because you are excited.”

Do a reality check. First, are you saving enough for the life you want? Check what your nest egg is on track to produce in annual income with T. Rowe Price’s Retirement Income Calculator, and see if that squares with your vision.

Second, keep in mind that retiring at the same time as your spouse typically isn’t the best move. Wives are often younger than their husbands, and women have longer life spans, so if a wife retires with her hubby, she’ll probably need to draw from their retirement savings for longer.

Also figuring into the equation are Social Security benefits, which make up 38% of income for the average retiree and which you’ll also want to coordinate with your spouse. One way to maximize benefits is to “file and suspend.” The higher earner files, then immediately defers benefits to let them grow (they rise 8% for every year you delay between full retirement age and 70). Assuming the lower earner is at full retirement age, he or she can then claim a spousal benefit, deferring his or her own benefit, which will also rise in the meantime. As you near retirement, run this and other basic scenarios using the benefits planner at ssa.gov or more detailed ones at maximizemysocialsecurity.com ($40).

Create a holistic plan. Make sure you’re acting as a team when it comes to saving and investing. If you’re a two-income household, you probably have access to two 401(k)s, for total annual tax-deferred savings of $36,000, or $48,000 if you’re both 50-plus. Stash at least enough in each to get the full company matches. If you can’t max out, sign up for automatic increases as your pay rises. “This is so basic it’s like breathing,” says O’Kurley, “yet a lot of couples don’t talk about it.”

You also want to think of your portfolio as one, and make sure you don’t have overlap or overexposure in your overall mix. The Instant X-Ray tool at Morningstar.com can help you figure this out. As a general rule, the percentage of your portfolio in stocks should be equal to 110 minus your age; the rest should be primarily in bonds. But if one or both of you have a traditional pension, you could adjust the bond allocation lower, since the guaranteed income allows you to take more risk.

Got several years between you or different tastes for risk? A UBS survey found that half of couples have divergent risk tolerances, but among them, those who choose an allocation between their preferences tended to be most satisfied. It’s also okay for the more risk-averse partner’s plan to be tilted toward bonds and the other’s to serve as a counterbalance in stocks, if that keeps the nervous one from overreacting to volatility. Another reason to split the baby: If your plan has lousy bond fund options, say, you could use your spouse’s plan to fulfill that allocation while using your 401(k) for stocks.

More from Love & Money:
Poll: How Boomer and Millennial Couples Feel About Love and Money
Why Couples Need to Get Financially Naked
This Is the Magic Number That Can Help Couples Avoid Money Fights

 

MONEY Love + Money

Why Couples Need to Get Financially Naked

The Voorhes

A new MONEY poll of millennial and boomer couples suggests that baring it all when it comes to money leads to a happier—and richer—relationship.

Katy Klein and her fiancé, Charles Hagman, both 30, began opening up about salaries, savings, and student loans just nine months into dating. The topics came up naturally as the Seattle couple figured out their plans for attending a pal’s wedding.

“Some of our friends were going early and renting a home by the beach,” says Klein, who works in PR. “So we had a conversation about whether that was in our budget … which spurred other conversations.”

Hagman, a software engineer, had intended to dig into those issues anyway. “I wanted someone who had similar savings goals,” he says. But for Klein, it was new terrain: “I’d never laid it all out.” Now that she’s done so, however, she says that financial transparency has set a solid foundation for their marriage.

Experts would agree. “Couples have less conflict about money when they share information,” says Terri Orbuch, a Detroit family therapist and the author of 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage From Good to Great. Knowing where you stand and what you want to accomplish builds trust and a sense of teamwork. Plus, getting on the same page gives you a better shot at hitting your goals and less risk you’ll unwittingly work against each other, she says. Thus, it’s crucial for married couples—and those headed to the altar—to open their books.

A new MONEY poll of boomer and millennial couples suggests that both generations are on board with baring all. When it comes to what partners should discuss before marriage, boomers and millennials both say the docket should include debt (78% of both groups), savings goals (69% and 74%, respectively), and amount saved (63% and 56%).

And yet other research suggests that few married couples truly practice transparency in their daily lives. A few years back, an American Express poll found that 91% of people avoid money talks with their partners; another from last year revealed that only 52% have financial conversations at least weekly. Worse, one in three adults in relationships say they lie to their partner about money, the National Endowment for Financial Education found.

As part of a monthlong series on Love and Money, we’ll be digging into our survey data and suggesting ways that couples can strengthen their unions and their finances. First step: Get financially naked. Here’s how to do it.

Choose a happy moment. Start the transparency conversation around the time of a positive event, like a promotion or a wedding, or at least when there’s an absence of major problems. “Finances are much easier to talk about when you are flush and happy,” says Mary Claire Allvine, a financial planner in Atlanta and the author of The Family CFO. “And opening up in good times makes it easier to talk about money when life changes for the worse.”

If you’re starting in a void, point to an article you’ve read, like this one. Say something like, “It made me realize I don’t know where we stand. Maybe we could take a look some night this week?”

Go full frontal. Crack open a bottle of wine and start opening your books. Begin by making a net-worth statement. This summary of assets and liabilities gives you a framework toward your common goals. It can also help you uncover flaws in your strategy, like debt growing as fast as savings. Use an online net-worth calculator like the one at Bankrate.com or an Excel spreadsheet. Plan to update your numbers quarterly.

If you have the energy, make a list of monthly expenses—review the last few months of bank and credit card statements—so you know where money is going. Or upload your accounts to an online money-management tool like Quicken or Mint, says Miami financial planner Ashley O’Kurley.

Find out your mate’s musts. Setting goals together begins with understanding your partner, says Patrick Wallace, a financial planner with Higher Strata Wealth Management in Hurst, Texas. He suggests you both answer these questions: What are the three most important money lessons you learned growing up? What are your three biggest money worries? What are your three biggest goals? What are the three most important ways you want to use money to leave a legacy? The answers will help your spouse understand what is important to you. “Your goals may still be in conflict,” says Wallace, “but it will be easier to compromise.”

 

MONEY Love and Money

POLL: How Boomer and Millennial Couples Feel About Love and Money

The results of MONEY's exclusive survey on the financial lives of millennial and boomer couples. Bottom line: The differences in how the two generations manage money in relationships are striking. But so, surprisingly, are the similarities.

Last year, MONEY conducted an exclusive survey on men, women, and money. The results captured sweeping changes in the way husbands and wives manage their finances and the impact of money on a marriage, particularly as wives bring home more of the bacon.

This year, we dug down into generational differences: Our latest MONEY poll compares the perceptions and behaviors of some 500 millennials and 500 baby boomers when it comes to their relationships and money. The results reveal distinct differences in their approaches to financial matters. But one theme crosses generations: Couples who are in sync on issues like saving and budgeting feel more financially secure, argue less about money—and have hotter sex lives. Click through the gallery for a look at the numbers.

 

MONEY work life balance

Millennials Want Work-Life Balance Too. Here’s How They Can Get It

Hero Images/Getty Images

Don't be afraid to ask.

We all want a life more that’s more balanced between work and fun. But millennials, more than any other age group, are the unhappiest when they don’t get it.

Nearly one-third of millennials say managing their work, family, and personal responsibilities has become more difficult in the past five years. And nearly half—47%—are working more hours, compared with 38% of Generation X and 28% of baby boom workers, according to a recent survey by Ernst & Young’s Global Generation Research.

More than other generations, millennials want flexibility in terms of where and how they work and are the most willing to take a pay cut, pass up a promotion, or even relocate to manage work-life demands better, according to the survey.

But employers don’t make it easy. Nearly one in six young workers surveyed by EY say they suffer negative consequences for choosing a flexible schedule.

Why should employers care about millennials want? This group—age 18 to 34—now officially outnumber Generation X as the most populous group in the workforce and are on track to surpass baby boomers soon. As employers try to attract and retain the best and the brightest, knowing what’s important to them is, well, important. Turnover among millennials tends to be higher than other work cohorts, and high turnover is costly to companies.

The E&Y survey further illuminates why this generation is more adamant about wanting flexibility. Millennials are hitting the time of their lives when they marry, buy homes, and have kids at the same time the demands of work are escalating.

“Earlier generations were probably too afraid to ask for flexibility. The mindset was that work comes first,” says Rose Ernst, national director of G10 Associates program, which works with companies to hire and retain college graduates and Generation Y workers. But many millennials grew up with parents who got laid off or whose careers suffered during recessions despite putting in long hours in the office. Meanwhile, technology has evolved so it’s easier to work from anywhere.

The dynamic on the home front has also changed. Millennials are almost twice as likely (78%) to have a spouse or partner working at least full time, compared with 73% of Gen Xers and 47% of baby boomers.

Until more millennials advance in their careers and become managers, the reality is that an older generation of workers still sets the standard for where and how work is done at many organizations. Here’s how to ask your boss for a flexible schedule and make it work without hurting your career.

  • Be up front. If you’re interviewing for a job, don’t wait until late in the game to ask about the possibility of a flexible work schedule, says Ernst. Research the company before you interview to find out what the culture is like in terms of nontraditional work arrangements. Clearly some jobs are going to be more adaptable than others. If you’re a human resources person focused on recruiting and meeting with job candidates, you may be able to do some work from home or after hours. If you’re managing a large team of people who work in one location, it’ll be more difficult to work remotely.
  • Be reasonable about why you’re asking. If you want to leave at 4 p.m. twice a week to take a class relevant to work, or if you need a few weeks off every February for volunteer work in Costa Rica, that’s going to be perceived differently than asking to leave early because you play in a softball league on Thursday nights.
  • Have a plan. If you’re already on staff and want to move to a flexible schedule, such as job sharing or telecommuting, prepare a proposal on how you’ll get your work done.
  • Don’t be a flake. It’s obvious but critical to be reliable. You’re much more vulnerable to being judged as a slacker when people can’t see you working. Always be reachable, deliver work on time or early, and make it a point to check in regularly.
  • Give and take. Volunteer for projects when you can or offer to help out colleagues on deadline, especially if others are making accommodations for your work schedule.

It remains to be seen how quickly work norms are changing. But there is power in numbers. “The millennials are a huge cohort of workers who value flexibility more than previous generations,” Ernst says. “That gives them leverage to change how we work.”

TIME Innovation

How the Navy is Taking the Lead on Maternity Leave

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. Here’s how the U.S. Navy is leading the way on maternity leave.

By Alexander LaCasse in the Christian Science Monitor

2. What if growing up “color-blind” means white millennials don’t see racial injustice either?

By Mychal Denzel Smith in the PBS Newshour

3. Jailhouse informants are a leading cause of wrongful convictions. It’s time for them to go.

By Jordan Smith in the Intercept

4. Spend two minutes per hour walking — just walking — to cut your risk of dying by one third.

By Christopher Wanjek and LiveScience at Scientific American

5. Fruit and vegetables worth billions are left to rot because they’re ugly. Now we can eat them at a discount.

By Lorena Galliot in Grist

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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