On Incentives

"Never penalize those who work for us for mistakes or reward them for being right about markets. It will go to their heads, is counterproductive and, in any event, material compensation will not correlate with their ability to predict the future next time."

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Writings & Speeches

Remarks at St. Anne’s

As you know, I have previously written a letter to you and I will try not to repeat what I said in that letter—except, of course, to mention our six grandchildren who have attended or now attend St. Anne’s, Maya Booth who graduated last year, and the current attendees, Madeline Booth, and the Brays – Sam, Eva, Tess and Emma. Instead, I would like to talk a few moments about immortality. For those of us who are not writers, artists, poets, composers, and the like—it is not likely we will be remembered as they are—unless we are Leonardo, Verdi or Mozart! But our grandchildren—those who were in this room—and their children, and their children—our descendants—will be there, in the future working as craftsmen, teachers, maybe poets, artists, professionals and parents. Who they are, what they contribute, will depend in large part on the people in this room. Two things I think are fairly certain: we cannot immunize those who follow us from stress and pain, but we can provide them, though our grandchildren, the best values and social consciousness that a school can offer—and that is what St. Anne’s does.

What St. Anne’s can accomplish can last a very long time. It will affect future generations, our descendants. It comes down not just to the commitment of the faculty and administrators here, but also to the resources needed that will provide the nurturing, mentoring, schooling and values that the school imparts. And that comes down to whether we as grandparents think that the latest Sony PlayStation which we provide to our grandchildren or, yes, even the down-payment on their first house can compare in impact to the support we  make to our grandchildren’s education. The truth is, although it is not likely we will be remembered by name generations from now, what we do to help our grandchildren here, now, can have favorable outcomes both for them and for the societies in which their descendants live far, far out into the future. For what they learn here—the understanding of beauty, peace, respect for others, fairness, sharing,—is what ultimately is passed on to future generations. We, by our actions, can contribute to that result.  And we can take pleasure from it now.

St. Anne’s simply needs and deserves our support. We can achieve what Ovid, the Roman poet, wrote at the end of his work, Metamorphoses, some 2,000 years ago: “I shall have mention on men’s lips, and if the prophecies of the poets have any truth, through all the ages in fame shall I live.” His last Latin word was “Vivam,”—I shall live. So too can we.