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College Graduation Speech

Partners' Network Blog

Once again I have not been asked to present a college graduation speech, but if I was asked, this is what I would say.

Congratulations, you made it.  The question is what did you make and what is next?

You satisfied your parents by graduating.  You certainly should feel good at this accomplishment.  You might have college loans hanging over your head and now you have to actually think about a repayment plan.  Some of you will be starting your careers and others will be continuing with advanced degrees of some sort.  Either way, you are at a crossroads in your life.  The question is how will you handle it, and what goals should you set?

One goal is to earn a good salary. Money is important – very important, but do not make it your primary goal.  Your goal should be to do something you have a passion for.  The money will come regardless of what you do and also based on how well you manage your career.

Also, if you want to make a lot of money, don’t get a job,  start a business.  If you want to learn how then work for someone who already did – do anything you can for them so you could see them in action…and their energy and their decision-making process and the type of people they surround themselves with and how they delegate and how hard they work.  24/7.  Nine to five is not something they comprehend.  And spend every waking moment plus the few before you fall asleep thinking about what needs you can fill, or benefit you can create, and how you can leverage what you do to expand it as rapidly as it needs to be.

Oh, and read about those people and attend presentations by them, and spend time with likeminded people – make the synergy work.

And while you are at it, establish your brand in a strong and positive way.  Have your word mean something.  Be reliable.  Do that something extra.  Show up!  Everything you do will count.  There are no do-overs in establishing your reputation.  An uncorrected or unacknowledged misstep is usually fatal.  People have big mouths when it comes to talking about the bad things you did, but are closed mouth with the good things.

Also, build your Outlook® and contact file.  In  the old days, we used to say, “build your Rolodex®.”  That was a thingamajig that held little cards with names, addresses, and telephone numbers.  Today the email address or cell number is more important.  No matter how you do it, collect the names and contact information of everyone you meet.  You never know who you can turn to for help.  And build relationships.  Keep in touch.  You can use social media very effectively, but also think about a call once in a while, or mailing a card or note or a copy of an article or excerpt from a book about something you think they are interested in.  Your contacts become your currency, but like money, it will depreciate over time unless used and kept in circulation, and invested for compounded growth.

It’s a big world out there, but can be made smaller and much more manageable when you have a network you can call upon.  Some, you will never need or speak to again, but for those that you can reach out to, it can make every effort in this regard well worthwhile.

Go forth! Go forward! Create!  Do wonders!  Don’t rest!  Build and cement your reputation!  And don’t let anyone you meet ever forget you – should you need to call upon them.  And make your life a creation you and everyone you touch will be proud of.

If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me at emendlowitz@withum.com or by filling out the form below.

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