Torabi to Penn State Smeal graduates: Seek fulfillment for life

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Farnoosh Torabi, a financial expert, bestselling author, speaker and host delivered the 2017 Penn State Smeal College of Business commencement address.

Torabi is a 2002 Smeal finance graduate who was a Schreyer Scholar. In the 15 years since she graduated, Torabi has created a name for herself in a number of areas.

She has distinguished herself as an award-winning personal finance expert, best-selling author and multi-media personality. Torabi has engaged in a host of mediums to help share her financial expertise with the public. She has: authored several self-help financial books; written financial advice columns and stories for leading newspapers as well as financial and general interest magazines; made guest appearances on major news and talk shows; produced an award-winning financial podcast; and hosted a primetime series on CNBC.

Torabi started her address by giving a brief sketch of her life after Penn State, talking about undertaking a 10-month journalism program at Columbia University and then embarking on an internship at a popular financial magazine. During that time, she said she lived in a rent-controlled New York apartment with a married couple and their 14-year-old cat and she did bird-sitting to make extra money.

The main thrust of her address was three simple truths, “strategies for making the most of your young adult life personally, professionally and financially … no matter how tough or confusing, doubtful or insecure life becomes.”

The first truth, she said, is to seek fulfillment in your life. She explained that while success has its benefits, it can leave a hollow feeling.

“Be sure that you carve out time to travel, spend time with your loved ones, try something new, volunteer, find a mentor, become a mentee … and practice not just being a go-getter but a go-giver,” she said.

“Don't get me wrong, dental is awesome. I took a job once mainly for the medical benefits … But you also want to live a life that has you waking up feeling grateful and good. Success without fulfillment is the ultimate failure.”

The second truth she revealed is “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Your happiness depends on it.”

She said that pushing yourself into unfamiliar, difficult areas and pursuits leads to adaptation, learning and growth.

“Being uncomfortable is hard, which is why it’s worth it. When you move outside your comfort zone, your life opens up to new experiences, opportunities, new emotions you didn’t know you were capable of feeling … far more than if you had just decided to stay home in your yoga pants,” Torabi said.

Finally, the third truth she listed was to “embrace the side hustle.”

She talked about several part-time jobs she performed in her 20s, from bird-sitting to baby-sitting to freelance writing. She emphasized that the extra income can lead to more than just paying your bills.

“So as you embark on your careers, create ownership in something that excites you, that rewards you in ways your salary or title cannot,” Torabi said.

“Maybe it’s a book, a blog, a band … heck maybe it’s AirBnB. Whatever your path, embrace the side hustle. At the very least it’ll help you pay your bills. Best case scenario: It affords you more independence in your career and life.”

Smeal’s entire commencement ceremony can be found online. Torabi’s address can be found starting at the 26-minute mark.

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Last Updated May 25, 2017