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Letter to my daughters: What Grandpa Taught me

Girls, you know how I can get sentimental about family sometimes. This is one of those times. As you continue to make your way in the world, I think about how much Grandpa has tried to teach me over the years, and how important it is to me to pass those ideas along to you.

Here are my “Top 10”:

1. 90% of life is mental. This includes work, school, sports, happiness, everything. Your body, heart and soul will follow your mind. Decide you are a hard worker, decide you are happy, and you will find that you are IN FACT those things.

2. Self-esteem comes from being useful to someone else. Self-esteem is earned not by being talented and gifted and smart and funny; self-esteem is earned by putting those talents to work in ways that other people find useful. And a very good way of knowing they find it useful is they PAY you to do it. Money is not the root of all evil, love of money is. Money is actually a great way for people to communicate to you how useful and valuable you are to them.

3. Be willing to work for less than you are worth provided you are learning. The caveat is to be sure you are a profit center—meaning you have to produce more for the person that is paying you than you cost him.

4. Think. Take your time, think about what you’re doing, and pay attention to what you are doing to so you can learn from it. EVERY TASK can teach you something if you are paying attention.

5. You can always outwork the other guy. ALWAYS. It goes back to 90% of everything is mental.

6. Physical labor can be good for the mind, heart, and soul. It’s hard on the body, which is why our family loves the internal combustion engine and all the machines and tools it powers.

7. Don’t wait for the perfect job, or for your “bliss.” Find work that is interesting and useful, work at it, master it, and be willing to do something else that is useful and interesting. You’re going to live a long time and may have several professions. Don’t wait, get started right away.

8. Listen to your Mother. If I have to explain this one to you, then I have failed miserably as your father.

9. Read. Reading can help you learn from other people’s mistakes, keep from repeating them, or at least take solace in the fact that you aren’t the only one to screw this up. Read everything and anything you can get your hands on. Take notes, bend pages, highlight passages (unless it’s a library book, don’t do that to library books).

10. I love you. This was the hardest lesson for me to learn, but the easiest one for me to pass on. I love you girls, more than you can know until you have children of your own.

Let me know if I can help.

I love you,


The opinions expressed are those of Tony Muhlenkamp of Muhlenkamp and Company and are not intended to forecast future events, guarantee future results, or offer investment advice.

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