I feel a deep sense of gratitude for Brigham Young University and its noble purpose. It has been at the very root of my conversion to the gospel and has laid the foundation for my private happiness and my professional progress.
Most likely, it is my career that qualifies me as the convocation speaker today. However, I would be mediocre at best if my personal journey were centered on business success alone. We cannot be first-rate in our professions if our work is all we are. We need balance in our lives; therefore, my advice for you today is this: get a LIFE.
Let me spell this out for you: L, be loyal; I, be inspired and inspiring; F, be family focused; E, be eternally minded.
I am convinced that at the root of successful individuals is a high degree of loyalty. Loyalty is multidimensional and must be applied to every aspect of our life. Be loyal first and foremost to God. He gave you life and provided you with gifts and power that you have wisely cultivated, getting you to where you are today.
As a bishop, I see an increasing number of members, as well as people of other faiths, who forsake loyalty to their churches, to their values, and even to their families. Often such individuals are troubled by unanswered questions. Do not become disloyal because you have a question!
I was a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the age of twenty-three and was baptized in the Jesse Knight Building. I had unanswered questions then, and I’m grateful to still have unanswered questions today. Without questions and intellectual curiosity, you can hardly increase your knowledge of God and the universe. “Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things” (Alma 32:21). In his book The Lord’s Question, former BYU philosophy professor Dennis Rasmussen wrote: “Into man’s spiritual shell God places his question like a grain of sand. And man’s work, daily renewed, is to make of it a pearl of great price.”1
Have questions, but remain loyal to your faith. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “I am not asking you to pretend to faith you do not have. I am asking you to be true to the faith you do have.”2
As you are loyal to the faith you have, naturally you will also be loyal to your spouse. Swiss farmers like to say that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. What an awful and pessimistic principle!
The lush, green, and vibrant beauty of your own garden is almost always within your sphere of influence. Follow the counsel of the prophets and make the garden of your marriage the most beautiful.
In a professional context, loyalty means you choose wisely and then you stick to that choice. Successful businesses need loyal partners. The responsibility is on you to carefully select an employer who will provide you with new assignments, projects, and advancement in return for your loyalty. After you have wisely selected your employment position, stick to that choice for a number of years. You will surely face challenges and hardship, but such obstacles construct character and will mold your professional career.
Be Inspired and Inspiring
To be successful, you must not only be inspired but also inspiring. Steve Jobs, the visionary cofounder of Apple, said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.”3
Most of your waking hours will be spent at work. Find something that will require a piece of your heart. Persevere and press forward, making sure that you are being edified and uplifted by what you do. Then ensure you are a daily inspiration to those around you.
One day at Partners Group, the investment company I cofounded, I went to our client dining facilities. To my surprise, I saw extremely detailed pictures of place settings posted on the kitchen walls. Curious, I asked Evelyne, my colleague responsible for the client dining experience, what these intricate images were used for. She responded with a confident smile, “You know, I’m dyslexic and not good at writing. But I do know how to set a perfect table. I’ve taken pictures of the place settings so my team members will understand what is expected of them.”
This woman’s innovative and inspiring way of guiding her team was an inspiration to me and to all her colleagues. She took pride in her work and found creative ways to fulfill her role. This exemplary woman chose to never settle for mediocrity. I have heard more clients rave about our catering team than about any other team in the firm.
Surround yourself with inspirational colleagues, and inspire others on a daily basis. It is not hard; it starts with small things. It might be as simple as an extra smile, an unexpected compliment, or a motivational pat on the shoulder, but uplift those around you on a daily basis. Avoid complainers, don’t participate in politics, don’t compete with your colleagues, and embrace an abundance mentality. Think contribution not career.
Be Family Focused
Our world is fast-paced and brimming with instant gratification. We live in a culture where many feel not only like they can do anything but also that they must do everything and anything at any time. This phenomenon takes its toll on families, as both parents are striving for careers simultaneously.
I could not have accomplished what I did without the uncompromising loyalty and inspirational support of my wife. My wife, Cornelia, graduated summa cum laude from the broadcasting program the same year I earned my MBA from BYU Marriott. Postgraduation we moved to New York, where she worked with the Dateline team at NBC while I was trained at Goldman Sachs. My assignments with Goldman moved us to London and to Zürich during the time when our first children were born, and Cornelia decided to stay home with our children. For the next fifteen years, we have continued to mainly divide responsibilities between homemaking and moneymaking. We always considered the former to be the most important job and fully shared the benefit of the latter.
When Jonas, our youngest of five, began school, Cornelia picked up part-time work and has been excelling ever since, now traveling the world regularly as a documentary filmmaker. She just returned from Africa last week; when she was gone I made sure that Jonas Skyped into seminary at six in the morning.
I’m not advocating that women need to stay home and that only men can be the breadwinners; there is not one right way to balance family and career. Develop the appropriate model for your individual situation. It might make economic sense to specialize one spouse’s career for a season at the peak of life’s demands with a growing family. Don’t sacrifice the relationship with your spouse and your children for the sake of two simultaneous, ambitious career tracks.
Be Eternally Minded
Live deliberately, maintain an eternal perspective, and all your life decisions will come more easily. I had the great privilege to be taught in my MBA strategy class by Stephen R. Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. The second habit he discusses in his book is to begin with the end in mind. If we keep our eternal perspective, we will follow BYU’s admonition to “go forth to serve.” On the job, in our family, in our community, and in our church callings, we must not forget to follow the Lord’s example and keep our eyes open for the needs of those around us.
Russell M. Nelson, president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, once asked, “What would you like said about you at your funeral? Or, if you were to write your own eulogy and you could have only three sentences . . . , what would you want to say?”4
As I reflected on this question, I quite easily formulated my own little list. I want to be remembered as (1) a loving husband and father; (2) a caring son, brother, and friend; and (3) a worthy priesthood holder.
You have spent your time at BYU learning about yourself and creating the person you want to be. You are diligent and intelligent workers—but remember to find balance. Remember to get a LIFE. Continue to create yourself; continue to learn.
You are the one who has control over your own life. As you become the person you desire to be and the person Heavenly Father needs you to be, your life will be a blessing and you will truly leave your mark on the world.
- Dennis Rasmussen, The Lord’s Question: Thoughts on the Life of Response (Provo, Utah: Keter Foundation, 1985), 11.
- Jeffrey R. Holland, “Lord, I Believe,” Ensign, May 2013.
- Steve Jobs, Stanford University commencement address, 12 June 2005.
- Russell M. Nelson, “Begin with the End in Mind,” BYU fireside address, 30 September 1984.
By Fredy Ganter
About the Speaker
Fredy Gantner is the chair of the Global Investment Committee and a member of Partners Group’s board of directors. He cofounded Partners Group in 1996 and served as chief executive officer until 2005, when he became executive chair. In 2014 Gantner stepped down as executive chair and took up his current role. Prior to founding Partners Group, he worked at Goldman Sachs. Ganter holds an MBA from byu Marriott. This text is adapted from his convocation remarks given 28 April 2017.