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

Interview number sixteen with Gregory J. Fleming.

Photo: Courtesy Gregory J. Fleming

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

Gregory J. Fleming: “Hi Justin. I am raising three millennials, Andrea, who is 20 and a Junior at Yale College, Charlotte, who is 18, a Senior in high school and on her way next fall to Colgate University, and my son Rory, a Junior in high school. So this topic around life advice for young adults is very germane for me and something I spend a lot of time reflecting on. My children often tease me on my constant stream of advice, always three themes, which is my self-imposed limit on digestible content for human beings in one setting. In this case, given the gravity of the topic and the many things I would like to say, I have four thoughts to communicate to young adults.

Work hard, stay humble, think big, and maintain balance and a focus on what is truly important in the long run. These are the building blocks for a successful and happy life. Human beings need to be challenged and stimulated by hard work. Humility is critical for you to interact constructively with others and also because it will come in handy in life when you, as we all do, get kicked in the teeth. If you won’t think big and stretch for the most you are capable of, nobody will do that for you. Last, all is lost, and you will inevitably and tragically end up unhappy later in life if you lose perspective and balance and fail to stay faithful to those things that matter most to you.”


Gregory J. Fleming is a Senior Research Scholar in Law; Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Center for the Study of Corporate Law; and Visiting Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School. He is the former President of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management and Morgan Stanley Investment Management.

Mr. Fleming is a leading authority in the global financial services industry. He joined Morgan Stanley in February 2010 as President of Morgan Stanley Investment Management, a role he held until October 2015. He assumed the additional role leading Wealth Management in January 2011. Prior to joining the Firm, Mr. Fleming served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Merrill Lynch from June of 2007 to early 2009. Previously Mr. Fleming ran Merrill Lynch’s Global Investment Banking business and joined Merrill Lynch as an investment banker in 1992. He also has been a principal at Booz Allen Hamilton. After leaving Merrill Lynch in January of 2009 after 17 years, Mr. Fleming was a Senior Research Scholar and Distinguished Visiting Fellow of the Center for the Study of Corporate Law at Yale Law School.

Mr. Fleming is a director of Colgate University, a member of the Board of Advisors for the Yale Law School Center for the Study of Corporate Law, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Economic Club of New York, a Director on Turn 2 Foundation Board, a Trustee at Deerfield Academy and a member of the Ronald McDonald House Board of Directors. He is a Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude graduate in economics from Colgate University and received his J.D. from Yale Law School.

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