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Commencement Address

Professional Development

This is the time of year when the nation’s graduates line up for accolades (and their diplomas). It is, for them, a beginning—a commencement of a new phase in their life. 

But ahead of that, most are given the “opportunity” to hear some words of wisdom and inspiration from an individual that they have likely never heard of (though their parents may have). In that spirit, I’d like to offer the graduates of 2023 some lessons I’ve picked up along the way:

Your first job can be like your first love—it will either bring a smile for years to come—or it can break your heart. And sometimes both. 

Just because you’re young(er), people are going to assume you know things you don’t—and assume you don’t know things you do.

Everything you’ve heard about your elders isn’t true. But some of it is.

There actually ARE stupid questions.

If your current boss doesn’t want to hear the truth, it may be time to look for a new one.

There can be a “bad” time even for good ideas.

Your work attitude often affects your career altitude.

When you don’t have an opinion, “what do you think?” is a good response. And sometimes even when you do.

People who ask for something ASAP probably want it sooner than you think is possible.

Emails (generally) don’t have to be answered right this minute.

Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone—BEFORE it rings.

If the only time your boss hears from you is when there’s trouble, don’t be surprised if they don’t look forward to your visits.

Book some quiet time in your day.

Most meetings really COULD be replaced with an email.

The world is made up of introverts and extroverts—learn and respect the difference(s).

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it pays to read the fine print.

Never say you’ll never…

Always sleep on big decisions.

There is an inverse relationship between the number of people in a meeting and its productive output.

Never let your schooling get in the way of your education.

Sometimes the questions are complicated, but the answer isn’t.

And most of all, don’t forget that you’ll want to plan for your future now—because retirement, like graduation, seems a long way off—until it isn’t.

Congratulations to all the graduates out there. We’re proud of you!

p.s.: Got any advice to add to this list? Share it in the comment section below!


All comments
Thane Walton
4 months 1 week ago
Join your 401k right away, and keep bumping your contribution up every year until you are maxing out. Yes! You really can do it. Saving 22,500 a year will set you up for much success!
Cynthia Tacheny
4 months 1 week ago
Failing to plan is planning to fail. (Whenever I feel like I can "get by" without a plan because I'm feeling too lazy to make one, I have to remind myself of this.)