Editor's note: We asked noted entrepreneurs to reflect on what they wish they'd known starting out and to put it in a letter to their younger selves. Kevin Daum started and sold multiple companies and whose Stratford Financial Services was honored on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies in the U.S.

Dear Kevin,

One thing that will be consistent once you pass the age of 50 is the amount of time you'll spend reminiscing. It's not that you'll long for the past, it's just that you'll now have so many past experiences that are triggered when you're thinking and doing things. Patterns emerge and memories flourish, providing thoughts and feelings that have greater depth than you could have ever imagined. This may be why many older people seem to have a richness to them that many younger people have not yet acquired.

Presently, the first of Generation Z are about to graduate college and enter the workforce. This topic will now supplant all the angst, media attention and hand wringing that was thrown upon millennials over the last 15 years. There is one article in particular where a 17-year-old explains in what ways others misunderstand his generation and how they will need to adapt.

That triggered a memory of you as a 17-year-old--so much energy and drive, but lacking a bit in understanding and depth. For you the adventure is just beginning. Every day in front of you has opportunity, emotion and wonder just waiting to be experienced. You can master the life ahead and make a significant contribution to the world around you but all is not as it appears. Here are three key concepts that will help you make life an awesome experience.

You will never be truly understood by others.

This will frustrate you at times and cause you to feel isolated. The truth is that being understood doesn't really matter. What does matter is your capability to listen, empathize and connect. Your ability to be loved is a direct reflection on your ability to love. Start by loving yourself for who you are and then constantly improve the way you positively impact others, for that is how they will assess you.

Time is your greatest friend.

"Now" is the enemy of success. Everything worth achieving comes with time and the journey makes everything more valuable. You will never have enough time and you can never control it. Instead, examine how it can support you in every desire and relationship. It is truly your greatest asset so covet it and use it only on worthy people and endeavors.

You are responsible for your own experience.

No one or nothing can take away from you that which you must hold dear, yourself. When things are good, appreciate the benefits and share the joy. When things are bad, step up and resolve the situation. Nothing in life is concrete except your ability to change the situation and the way you perceive it. Take action and improve constantly.

If you head into life thinking you know, you will miss so much and much will pass you by. Approach each day in a spirit of inquiry, and the secrets will unfold beyond your wildest imagination. Enjoy the ride. Be ready and willing to laugh... a lot.


Your 52-year-old self,