A Half-Century Of Damn Good Advice In 15 Short-Sentences For Gen Z

Justin Zack
3 min readJan 27, 2024
Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash

I am 50.

My kids are Gen Z.

(Which means I know a few things about livin’.)

Here are 15 lessons I’ve learned about life that I wish I could lay out for every 20-something (they don’t make the same mistakes I have):

Start investing right now.

Seriously.

Stop what you’re doing right now. Open an investment account. Grab $3 from your wallet (or the cloud) and deposit it.

You can always make more money.

But you can’t rewind time and cash in on compounding interest.

Invest in experiences.

Material sh*t goes in the bin.

Experiences live in your mind — forever.

(Don’t forget it.)

Invest in process.

People get hung up on outcomes.

You don’t get results unless you have a good process.

It’s boring, but it’s the fastest way to build long-term success.

Trying to sound smart is stupid.

“It is imperative that we enhance and augment our strategic planning methodologies to ensure the optimal realization of our objectives in a timely manner.”

Blecht.

Be less impressed.

Famous people, rich people, wildly successful people, are all just people.

Same struggles, same flaws, just different levels.

And those levels don’t matter.

Be a lesson collector.

If you aren’t learning, you’re not growing.

And if you aren’t collecting your lessons then life is…

Well, to be blunt, no fun.

Be weird.

You do you.

No sense trying to be someone you aren’t.

Draw if you want to, dance if you want to, hike every 14er in Colorado if you want, play ice hockey, write if you want, but by all means do you.

And if people think it’s weird, so...f’ing…what, it’s you!

Never stop studying.

As kids we want to hurry up to “adult.”

So we can stop studying for tests.

But the truth is life is a test.

And the more you study, the better prepared you are.

Fart in public.

It’s embarrassing.

But it’ll make you (and everyone else) laugh.

Sure people will say you are gross, and “ewe that’s disgusting”, but here’s the thing, as soon as they are behind closed doors, yea, they let it rip too.

It’s just part of life, so live it.

Cancel your plans.

You can always reschedule.

But you’ll never get a second chance at being someone else’s solution when they need it the most.

Say stupid shi*t.

You never know what will stick.

Creativity happens when you polarize attention.

Follow your advice.

If you sit behind a computer all day and ship thousands of do’s and don’ts, then you better have the experience to back it up.

Otherwise you are just a liar.

You know what to do.

The reason you don’t do is because you are too worried about what happens if you do do it.

News flash.

If you don’t do it, you will NEVER know.

Now go do what you know to do.

Share your lessons.

But just know…

Those lessons are you really for you.

Get drunk.

Once.

Then never do it again.

You’ll learn what most people do to escape reality. Then make a commitment to yourself to never do anything that requires a false afterburner.

Your body will thank you when you’re 50.

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Justin Zack

Project leader. Product thinker. Write about human things. Find me at justinzack.com