I’m 71 — these are my 22 ‘useful’ life lessons for Gen Z

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From boomer to zoomers.

Kevin Kelly, 71, is sharing decades of wisdom that he wishes he “knew earlier in life” — 22 points to be exact — in a new essay for CNBC.

The founding executive editor of Wired informs on how to talk with others, manage finances, and handle rude people, among other “useful” topics.

“Listening is a superpower,” Kelly wrote. “When talking to someone you love, keep asking them, ‘Is there more?’ (until there is no more).”

He also believes everyone has something to learn. In fact, he advises that the more interested people are in others, the more interesting they become.


Two women talking
“If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room,” Kelly continued. “Hang out with, and learn from, people smarter than yourself. Even better, find smart folks who will disagree with you.”
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“If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room,” he continued. “Hang out with, and learn from, people smarter than yourself. Even better, find smart folks who will disagree with you.”

Kelly also gave a nugget of wisdom about interacting with “rude people” amid tension.

“Treat their behavior like an affliction or illness they have,” he explained. “This will make it easier to have empathy towards them, which can soften the conflict.”

When it comes to earning respect, he said to “be honest about your faults.”

He encouraged readers to be resilient by persevering, but also know when to “give up on something that doesn’t work.”

To extend an authentic apology, he recommends to “express genuine empathy with the other person, take responsibility, and offer a remedy to fix things.”


Person practicing speech in mirror
To improve your public speaking, he advises watching a recording of yourself.
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Finding your passion, he continued, starts by being “an expert on one thing” and mastering it — only then will you “steadily find where your bliss is.”

“When you create things that only you with your unique talents and experiences can do, then you are absolutely not an imposter,” Kelly wrote, in reference to imposter syndrome. “You are the ordained. It is your destiny to work on things that only you can do.”

To become a better public speaker, he advises watching a recording of yourself, and when it comes to asking stupid questions, “just do it.”

Kelly also knows a thing or two about raising smart and confident kids, urging parents to “reinforce their sense of belonging” and push kids to answer their own “why?” inquiries.

“The smartest reply is, ‘I don’t know. What do you think?” he said.

To make good decisions, he said to ask yourself: “Which choice will pay off now more than later?”

“The easy choice pays off right away, but the best choice will pay off at the end,” he wrote.


Person putting in credit card info in their computer
To accumulate wealth, live cheaply while you’re young, he said.
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Kelly also shared a wealth of knowledge about finances, advising readers to “live as cheaply as you can when you’re young” and “own as little as possible” to save cash. Splurge only on a few niche interests.

To “boost your salary,” he recommends negotiating income “the moment they say they want you, and not before.”

But wealth, he says, is measured “not by the things you can buy, but by the things that no money can buy.”

Kelly also encourages youngsters to buy and sell stock and always tip between 15% and 20%.

Money can’t buy happiness, he argues, but jealousy can tarnish joy.

“Unhappiness comes from wanting what other people have. Happiness comes from wanting what you already have,” he reasoned.


Dad pushing son on bike.
“Unhappiness comes from wanting what other people have. Happiness comes from wanting what you already have,” he said.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

But even Kelly knows advice is not one-size-fits-all.

“Advice like these are not laws — they are simply hats! If one doesn’t fit, try another,” he said.

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