I’m writing this for my kid who’s not due to graduate for another 20 years. I figure if I get run over by a truck or kidnapped by a gang of marauding Amazon women (by which I’m referring to the Amazon women of mythology and not employees of Amazon.com, though I suspect they too, are lovely) before he graduates, he can say his old man tried his best to impart something of value beyond watching Top Gear together and doing donuts in the parking lot.
Congratulations on completing your degree/diploma/Masters/Ph.D. in __________!
You’ve been doing the school thing for over two and a half decades now. You probably don’t remember but you were in full day classes by the time you were 2 years old. They had you reading Shakespeare by 3 and building scale models of the Large Hadron Collider by the time you were 4. Crazy! If you worked hard enough, you now probably have the option of pursuing a professional career. Though if you were able to discover exactly what you wanted to do for the rest of your life at a young age, you are truly one of the lucky ones.
I’m assuming we paid for your education. So you’re welcome.
1. Don’t worry about how marketable your degree is. Unless you’ve chosen a professional stream, there’s little chance you’ll have a career in whatever you’ve studied at school. But whatever career you find yourself in, know that there will be high achievers, also-rans and never-will-be’s. The difference is the passion in whatever you’re doing. Passionate people draw resources. They draw supporters, mentors and money. Passionate people are the people others call lucky. People don’t judge you by the ideas in your head. People judge you by how you communicate those ideas…and how passionately you do it.
2. Don’t be the dude at the dance who sits in the corner and leers at all the happy people. More than in school, if you keep yourself to the sidelines now, you’ll just watch others have all the fun. Jump in. Look foolish and learn from it. Stay silly for the rest of your life. Serious people always seem to be hiding something. I’ve met too many serious people who track every minute or email to determine if your company was good ROI. I tried to like them but it’s hard – they don’t even seem to like themselves. Androids can’t love. Don’t keep score. Just help out first. “If you help enough people get what they want, you will get what you want.” A whole bunch of people claimed to have said this. Who cares who said it. Just live it. Get right in there and mix it up.
3. Don’t apply for a job the moment you’re out of school. In front of you is the rest of your life. At this moment, you can ‘create’ a career that’s completely to your liking. Someone is hiring? Great! That means there’s growth in that industry. There’s an opportunity to create something. It’s 2011 and we’re already living in future. We just streamed Top Gear on an Ipad. Can you grasp how crazy cool that is?! Information is completely democratized now. You can start anything you want. You can start any business you want. Everything is public domain. I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like in 2031. Meet people. Meet lots of people. Assuming our robot overlords still believe in democracy when you graduate, don’t just think about applying for a job, think about creating a job. It’s your life to live as you wish. Your parents busted their butts just so you have this moment…this choice. DO NOT CONFUSE this with sitting on your ass and doing nothing. Smugly claiming that you’re trying to find yourself doesn’t cut it. Find yourself by doing. Find yourself by failing a few times.
Finishing school is hard work. It’s probably a lot harder now than it was when I was going through it. It’s a massive achievement and your parents are proud as hell. Now take all that knowledge and brilliance and make them even prouder by making good choices…by making something…
P.S. If the CME starts to trade fresh water futures in 2031, go long, stay long.