Thursday, May 10, 2012

If I Were the Valedictorian

 A Message to the Class of 2012

The time of year is upon us. A time where we celebrate academic success and identify our future leaders of the world. The time for our next generation that signifies they have accomplished something of worth and value. The end of an era and the beginning of a new world: Graduation.

With graduation comes caps, gowns, teary-eyed parents, pomp & circumstance (never really knew what that meant), and speeches that will enlighten. As we graduate another set of young men from BA, I can't help but remember my own graduation experiences and my missed opportunities to deliver the valedictorian speech. In High School, I wasn't even close to that position (graduating in the bottom half of my class). In college, I was too focused on social life to worry about being able to spell GPA. Through the marvels of technology and a moment of vanity for me, you will now hear what my message would be if I were a valedictorian of the Class of 2012. Lucky you! ..... Bueller? ...... Bueller?

Deep thought #1 - Your worth in life is not based upon your pedigree.
It is not a question of where you come from, where you went to school or how much information you remember that is important. It is what you do from today on that will make you successful.

I spend most of my day with a group of young men that are sometimes so focused on gaining admission to "good schools" that they lose sight of the skills they acquired over the course of the year. They look for that athletic or academic acceptance as a sign of success because it is granted by what Seth Godin would term the "famous school". Keep in mind: famous does not mean good. Charles Manson became famous and most of us know where he ended up.

Success will not be defined by where you have been, but by where you can go. A place of employment, or a business venture does not immediately become successful by hiring a Harvard grad. It becomes successful by what that individual can accomplish in the years that follow. All that coming from a guy who spent some time in public schools, went to a Maine state university and received his Master's in an online environment. Did I mention I was never the valedictorian in any of those schools either?

Deep thought #2 - People skills are more important now than ever.
In a connected economy, environment or web, who are we connecting to? .... Other people - that's who!

If you have read any of my other blog posts, you know that I believe technology is a powerful tool. It is a tool that can be used for both good and evil. It is also a tool that our graduates need to understand to be successful in the future. The use of social media has opened up the world of communication at a rapid pace and our kids depend on it for many different reasons. We just need to make sure the same lessons we taught in kindergarten about how to treat people are not lost. Whether you are talking to somebody face to face or posting on a Facebook wall, people are interacting and the successful interactions are based on people skills.

Although written in 1936, Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People continues to be one of my favorite books. Amazon has it as a digital download. I bet there might even be a few online Carnegie courses that still discuss the principles in that book. I would encourage any graduate looking to get ahead in life in the Information Age to read that book. Sounds crazy but I think Carnegie's message is even more important today. I don't blame the car / vehicle (technology), I would like to think that I help make the driver better (people).

Good luck to the class of 2012 and may you realize that it is a new world you are about to enter. A world that, although dominated by change and technical advancement, continues to be human centered. ..... Live long and prosper ..... (I always wanted to say that...)

1 comment:

  1. A great angle into graduation and moving on to the next chapter in life. Too many times kids, and people in general, are too focused on where they are going next to appreciate where they are now. Do the job where you are, and the next job will take care of itself. Acquire the skills necessary to succeed and success will follow.

    Great job Dave.