martin wescott smith at central junior high football game number 51

What Would I Do Different?

Life is too short for regrets. If I could speak to number 51, me in the ninth grade at Central Junior High in Greenwich, Connecticut, in 1973, here is some of what I'd share.

  • Shit Happens - Some bad rain falls in every life. So don't carry an umbrella every day, but have one in easy reach. Remember, the best umbrella is your ability to create and execute a plan even as lightning strikes, hail falls, and life as you've known it ends.
  • Time - Time only seems slow. Blink twice and forty years disappers. Live with urgency but not in a hurry.
  • Bold Beats Timid - Better to ask for forgiveness than permission.
  • Learn To Code - I wish coding was a thing then. I would love to have learned how to create websites AND touch type in Ms. Geeter's class.
  • Love - When you find the love of your life be appreciative, patient, and kind. Finding love and then losing it stings twices as much.
  • Smile & Laugh More - Be confident enough to laugh and smile more. Respect is earned, time short, and laughter costs nothing.


Growing up in Greenwich, money was strange. Most were well off, but money, power, and wealth didn't feel disproportionate. Life was more disproportionate than it felt. Saving money then felt boring. Having more money now would be the opposite of boring. Everything always costs more than you think and twice as much as imagined. Not spending so much back in the day would provide relief and possibilities now. Save a lot and retire early or save and start companies or save and travel.