For those of you who have graduated from high school or college this month, you no doubt have heard words of wisdom from men in suits and women in dresses about how you are the future and your potential is unlimited and all that stuff I heard when I graduated high school in 1978 and college in 1982.
These speech makers tell you there will be pitfalls and to never give up. They speak in general terms.
They aren’t wrong. You have the potential of great things in front of you. And you have the world of disappointment in front of you. Some of you may be millionaires. Some of you may be rotting in a prison cell somewhere. Most of you will be somewhere in between.
I am here to give it to you straight, boys and girls and men and women. I’ve lived a long time and I’ve seen a lot of people succeed and fail. Advice? Yep, I have plenty.
So as you put your gowns on the hanger and get ready for your next phase in life either curing cancer or selling pencils on a street corner , here are some tips from your goofy Uncle Jeff to keep in mind…
-- For those going into college, don’t freak out if some of the general courses in your field are really hard. A lot of stuff gets thrown at you and it can make your head spin.
It gets easier and more interesting when you start taking specialized courses in that field. You will enjoy them more. Survive the general courses and thrive in the advanced courses and you will be fine.
-- I learned this late in my academic career, but employ the Vorva Distraction Method when studying for tests.
Once, I had a big test on a Monday (professors who give big tests on Mondays have a nice big section of Hell awaiting them in the afterlife) and there was a big football game I wanted to watch on a Sunday afternoon.
I ended up doing both. I would try to memorize something and when I thought I had it nailed, I would watch some of the game. After about five minutes of being totally distracted, I turned the game off and wrote down what I tried to memorize before watching the game. If I could write it down, I knew I knew it and went on to anther section. If I couldn’t, I tried again.
I was stunned with how well that worked. I earned some pretty good test scores after that.
-- Don’t believe everything a professor or teacher tells you about a pending final exam. Once, one of my teachers was completely upfront about what would appear on a mid-term and that worked out well. But during the final, he threw a lot of stuff on the test that he didn’t mention. So study everything!
-- Now a few tips for the real working world. Anytime you are looking for a job and the ad raves about how nice the area is, it’s probably a low-paying job.
-- Work as hard as you can.
Even if you work your tail off and you see goldbrickers and idiots who get promoted or better jobs, don’t lose your work ethic.
-- Be on time. It sounds so simple, but not everyone masters the art of being where they need to be when they need to be.
-- If you are going to loudly rip your boss in one part of the office on a weekend, make sure that the office is empty and that the boss’s quiet sister isn’t in the back of the room making mental notes on everything you say.
-- When the big bosses bring the whole company together and try to convince you that “bankruptcy is actually a GOOD thing,” it’s OK to be a little skeptical.
-- If you get laid off from a job and the people you had great relationships with outside the company don’t even return calls or e-mails, then you know who your real friends are in the business. If you get another job and deal with those people who blew you off, keep the relationship strong, but never forget what slime they were to you when you were down. Revenge can come in all sorts of ways.
-- When the company brings in a brand new soda machine and gives you free pop for a night or two, don’t make a pig out of yourself. I know a guy who must have drank 10 big cups of root beer and had a stomach ache afterward. It wasn’t me. Trust me.
-- Don’t believe anyone who uses the phrase “trust me.”
So to the class of 2015 I say, good luck and be careful out there.