The Life Advice Guide: Insights For Young Adults From Stars of Business and Beyond

Interview number eleven with Lee Cooperman.

Photo: Courtesy Lee Cooperman

Justin Higgins: “Hi Lee, what life advice do you have for young adults?”

Lee Cooperman: “Hi Justin. There are five things that I generally like to tell young adults.

First, I tell them about the gazelle and the lion. Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up and knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up and knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. In life, it doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle, when the sun comes up, you better be running. I always preach full commitment and hard work in everything you do. The harder you work, the luckier you are going to get.

Second, in the wise words of Andrew Carnegie, “I wish to have as my epitaph: ‘Here lies a man [or woman] who was wise enough to bring into his [or her] service men [or women] who knew more than he [or she]’.” In your career, always try to find and hire the best people humanly possible because they’ll improve your performance. Don’t be threatened by strong people. Be benefited by strong people.

Third, no matter how wealthy you become, the one luxury you cannot afford is arrogance. Be nice to people whether they are above you or below you.

Fourth, I quote Henry Ford, who said: “The best way to make money in business is not to think too much about making it.” If you do what you love and love what you do, you are bound to be successful.

Lastly, I read a comment many years ago by William Arthur Ward, who gave the following advice: “Before you speak, listen. Before you write, think. Before you spend, earn. Before you invest, investigate. Before you criticize, wait. Before you pray, forgive. Before you quit, try. Before you retire, save. Before you die, give.” That advice is the arc of a productive life.”


Lee Cooperman is the Founder, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Omega Advisors, Inc.

At the end of 1991, following 25 years of service, Lee retired from his positions as a General Partner of Goldman, Sachs & Co. and as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs Asset Management to organize and launch an investment-management business, Omega Advisors, Inc.

At Goldman Sachs, Lee spent 15 years as a Partner and one year (1990–1991) as of-counsel to the Management Committee. In 1989, he became Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs Asset Management and Chief Investment Officer of the firm’s equity product line, managing the GS Capital Growth Fund, an open-end mutual fund, for one-and-a-half years. Prior to those appointments, Lee had spent 22 years in the Investment Research Department as Partner-in-charge, Co-Chairman of the Investment Policy Committee and Chairman of the Stock Selection Committee. For nine consecutive years, he was voted the number-one portfolio strategist in Institutional Investor Magazine’s annual “All-America Research Team” survey.

As a designated Chartered Financial Analyst, Lee is a senior member and past President of the New York Society of Security Analysts. He is Chairman Emeritus of the Saint Barnabas Development Foundation, a member of the Board of Overseers of the Columbia University Graduate School of Business, a member of the Board of Directors of the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation, a member of the Investment Committee of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, and Board Chairman of Green Spaces, a committee organized to rebuild 13 parks in Newark, NJ.

Lee received his MBA from Columbia Business School and his undergraduate degree from Hunter College. He is a recipient of Roger Williams University’s Honorary Doctor of Finance; a recipient of Hunter College’s Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters; an inductee into Hunter College’s Hall of Fame; and a recipient of the 2003 American Jewish Committee (AJC) Humanitarian Award, the 2006 Seton Hall Humanitarian of the Year Award, the 2009 Boys & Girls Clubs of Newark Award for Caring, and the 2009 UJA-Federation of New York’s Wall Street and Financial Services Division Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2013, Lee was inducted into Alpha Magazine’s Hedge Fund Hall of Fame and was honored by the AJC at their 50th anniversary with the Herbert H. Lehman Award for his professional achievements, philanthropic efforts, and longstanding support for AJC. In 2014, Columbia Business School awarded Lee its Distinguished Leadership in Business Award, and Bloomberg Markets named him to its fourth annual “50 Most Influential” list (one of only ten money managers globally to be so honored, selected “based on what they’re doing now, rather than past achievements”). He was inducted into the Horatio Alger Society in April 2015.


Originally published at www.justinmhiggins.com.

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