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What I Know Now - Michael Litwin '70: (Retired) Businessman, Consultant, Philosopher

September 6, 2017

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From the Summer 2017 Western The Magazine for Alumni of Western Illinois University

You're only as old as you act
I'm 69 years old going on 15. I wonder what I'll be like when I grow up?

If you love what you do, it's never work
I've loved what I've done every single day of my 46-year career. My passion and enthusiasm was infectious and as a result we were able to create a culture of excellence.

Success is based on good judgement.
Good judgement is based on experience. And experience is based on bad judgement. My philosophy in my life and career has been to never make the same mistake twice. The older I get, the smarter I get because I'm running out of mistakes I haven't already made.

It's not important to be liked.
It is important to be respected. Sticking to your principles and doing what you think is right will serve you better than doing what you think others want or expect.

Sometimes its better to ask for forgiveness than permission.
It's better to regret a few mistakes made along the way than regret never having tried.

Drink good booze and get ocean front rooms.
Do it as right as you can within your budget. Sometimes that might mean saving a bit more to enjoy the upgrades.

Golfing a lot doesn't necessarily mean you'll get any better.
One year into retirement and many rounds of golf under my belt has not seen my handicap improve. I've learned to enjoy my mediocre game anyway. I appreciate the fact that, at least, I'm still on the right side of the ground.

No one succeeds on their own.
Align yourself with competent advisors who you trust. Empower your employees to make decisions and compensate them fairly. Their success will ensure your success.

Chicago hot dogs and deep dish pizzas are the best.
I've tried them all and it's not even close.

It's OK for a White Sox fan to be happy the Cubs won the World Series.
What was not to like about the 2016 Cubs? I even bought a Cubs Championship t-shirt and wear it from time to time.

There is nothing better than grandchildren.
I spoil the hell out of my 7- and 10-year old grandsons. We break all the rules. We go swimming at night after the pool is closed. We've become best friends. I hope we stay this close forever.

Millennials have it much harder than we Baby Boomers did.
Make no mistake about it. Competition for jobs has become global and it's harder to find employment. The cost of education is dramatically higher with student loans significantly impacting the future financial prospects of many of today's graduates. I remain optimistic, however. Western has provided our graduates with a great education and I'm confident they have the tools to succeed in any environment.

In retrospect, mutton chops may not have been as cool as I thought they were.

Make sure you're prepared to retire.
I wasn't ready the first two times I retired. I ended up going back to work both times to save my sanity (and our marriage!) I finally realized I needed to be engaged in some fashion, so when I finally retired for the third time last year, I joined some boards and continue to do some consulting work for my former employer. Now I have the best of both worlds.

You're never too old to stop learning.
Like a muscle, if you stop using your brain it will atrophy. Recently, I got interested in the universe so I went out and bought a telescope and took an online college course on astronomy. Next on my list is learning how to be a better cook …

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