My Clinic Story: Geniuses learn from other’s mistakes, smart people learn from their own mistakes, and stupid people never learn.

By: Robert Noens, Fall 2017 IAC Student Intern

This is it; my last Clinic blog post. It is a bittersweet event. I am excited to be done and move on to the next chapter of my life. However, I am grateful for all the wonderful real-world and practical experience the Clinic and Practicum have offered me over the past year and a half. Frankly, I will miss it.

I suppose reflecting back, I would leave any reader with this one message: listen to your parents. When I say this, I do mean it in the literal sense; however, I for the purposes of this article, I would rather people read and interpret the phrase for what it represents. For me, the phrase means listen to those who have come before you, those who have more experience, and those who have your best interest(s) in mind – that last element is perhaps the most important. The reason for that is because the people that fit the description above, are the people that will make your life easier. They know the results of different actions, and they have seen an immeasurable number of circumstances play out – many I am sure similar to your own. And ultimately, these are the people who are more often going to be right.

There is a quote that I am reminded of while writing this. I am not sure where it came from, and I am not even sure if I am getting it exactly right, but, nonetheless, here it is: “Geniuses learn from other’s mistakes, smart people learn from their own mistakes, and stupid people never learn.” The reason I wrote that quote is because it largely describes the one lesson I would like to leave behind after my clinic experience. The lesson is: learn as much as you can, and head the advice of those people that are experienced and have your best interest in mind. It is fine to learn from your own mistakes. That is normal, but if you can learn from other’s mistakes (i.e. lessons on this blog or from other sources), I promise you that your life will be easier. Many of the mistakes that leave investors, or even young lawyers, in a poor spot are largely avoidable by simply listening.

More often than not, we do not truly take other’s lessons to heart. I have found myself guilty of this time and time again. It is hard to conceptualize the difficulty or magnitude of other’s mistakes and the lesson that resulted from them. I am here to tell you, however, if you can wrap your brain around the lessons and mistakes of other and truly empathize with them, your life, retirement, and overall investing experience will go much smoother and be much more fruitful.