Whiting column: Graduating this year’s class responsibly, part 2
We are continuing the process of graduating to independence through personal responsibility.
Make sure you can read and write at the highest level. Technology has only accentuated these two skills. Being technologically literate is more than being an expert gamer.
Don’t ever stop learning. Anticipate what you need to know. If you wait until you have to learn it, it’s too late. You are chasing the lead dog and the view isn’t great. Leaders not followers are the highest paid.
Avoid the pitfalls to success: Quitting before you complete your education; finding yourself in a situation where you can be arrested or go to jail; getting in a position where you have kids before you desire them and can afford their care; not being willing to do any job; not being loyal to your boss.
Know how to win an interview. The interview is the whole ball game, and it is indeed a contest. The winner gets the job; the losers don’t. When interview time arrives, your GPA, education and experience are irrelevant. They were essential to your getting the interview, but the 3.0 GPA with one year of experience that can win an interview will always get the job over the 4.0 GPA with two years of experience who can’t express themselves or think on their feet. A GPA doesn’t convince the boss you understand the business’ needs and you have the ability to meet those needs. It doesn’t demonstrate your skills or work ethic.
Focus on the needs of the boss, not your background. There is a big disadvantage to the boss hiring you or anyone: He has to pay you. Consequently, there must not be any other way to meet his need and this need must be significant. Your education and experience are relevant to the extent they will save the boss time, do something better than he, and meet their significant need. Spend your time convincing him you can meet his need, not that you have a degree and experience. He already knows that.
Bad interviews are “I” oriented. I did this. I did that. Good interviews are “you” oriented. “What are the two main responsibilities you need to have this position fulfill?” “Would my social media skills save you time?” “My sales skills can help your company meet your two goals for 2018.”
Beyond skills, separate yourself in your career by exhibiting the work characteristics most people don’t possess: Do more than your fair share of the work; be the first to arrive and the last to leave; admit your mistakes and fix them; volunteer for additional responsibilities; let your work speak louder than your words; under promise, over perform; listen and think more than you talk, but don’t be shy; overshare the credit. Learn how to lead and motivate others as well as yourself.
Make sure you can speak effectively in front of people, even if it’s not your favorite activity. Nothing will separate you from others quicker if you can do so, and welcome the opportunity.
Understand the Opportunity Cost concept. Everything has an out-of-pocket cost and an opportunity cost. If you spend $300 on tickets, gas, food, T-shirt and motel room at a concert that is out-of-pocket cost. Opportunity cost is everything else you could have done with that money: repaying a debt, investing in a college fund, saving to pay cash for an old car. This doesn’t mean you should never have fun or buy anything new. It means think about how you spend money and decide what is the best use of the money at the time. Those who are financially dependent not only spend without thinking about opportunity cost, they don’t know it exists.
Try not to waste your money on bad habits. The average smoker spends $2,000 per year on cigarettes; drinker $6,000 and we won’t discuss the cost of any sort of drug, let alone the ramifications of a DUI or drug conviction. Independence means making mature decisions, and with maturity comes the realization that you need to take your actions and behavior to a higher level. Again, it doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, but if you need to get drunk in order to find someone to be your friend or hook up with, what does that say about your personality?
Be charitable. Share with those less fortunate who have caught a bad break in life and need a hand. There are many needy, deserving people who would appreciate a touch of help to get back on track, get a job, pay a bill.
Don’t help lazy people. Helping them only enables their continuing to be lazy. It’s usually not hard to tell the difference between lazy and genuine need.
Determine your passion and spend time doing it. Passion keeps you going day after day. Sadly, your passion may not translate into a career. You may have to make money doing “x” — your career — and use the money to enable you to do “y” — your passion. The lucky people find both in the same place. Plan to make yourself lucky.
Graduate to independence by being personally responsible.
Bryan Whiting feels most of our issues are best solved by personal responsibility and an understanding of non-partisan economics rather than by government intervention. He recently retired after 40 years of teaching marketing, entrepreneurship and economics. Comments and column suggestions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.