Last week, we began examining quotes that will hopefully serve our graduates – from both high school and college – as they make their way in the world. If you’re one of these fine young adults, first, congratulations! I’m sure you’re almost as tired of hearing some variation of, “So what do you want to do with your life?” as you are of the mountain of schoolwork you’ve had to climb to get where you are. But whatever your transition will be in the coming weeks – maybe you’ve got the summer off before going to college, or you’re taking time to travel before starting a new career, or even if you’re heading full stride right into a new job after graduation – these quotes can serve as “knowledge nuggets” that you will hopefully store in that jam-packed brain of yours and pull them out when needed. Last week, if you can remember that far back between cramming for AP tests, college finals, or more than a few rounds of cheap beer with your fellow graduates-to-be, we looked at the following quotes from Eric Bahn, Product Manager at Facebook; cofounder of Hustlecon and George Stephanopoulos, ABC News chief anchor; co-anchor of “Good Morning America”, respectively:
“Your network will become increasingly important as you progress in your career. Once you build a reputation and build the right contacts, then you’ll never have to apply for a job again — opportunities will come to you. When you encounter an interesting person, grab their e-mail and add their info into a master list of network contacts. Write an annual e-mail during the holidays to your master list to keep your contacts warm and updated; you’ll be amazed how effective this tactic is.”
“Relax. Almost nothing you’re worried about today will define your tomorrow. Down the road, don’t be afraid to take a pay cut to follow your passion. But do stash a few bucks in a 401(k) now.”
This week, we take a look at two more quotes. Where the first two were about the importance of networking and saving a few bucks for retirement starting on DAY ONE! of your working life, the two this week share a more common theme: taking a risk on your greatest asset…you!
“There has never been an easier time to start a business. There are so many free online tools. Just start, and if you fail you can always go and get a normal job, but you will learn so much along the way it will be a great experience.” - Hermione Way, Founder of WayMedia; Star of Bravo’s “Start-Ups: Silicon Valley”
“If you want to do your own startup, you don’t need a job to get experience first. You will learn faster doing your own thing than working at some entry-level job. You will make mistakes (lots of them), but that is all part of the learning process. If you want to learn to swim, don’t be afraid of getting wet.” - Patrick Lee, Cofounder and former CEO of Rotten Tomatoes
Chances are if you’re a new high school or college grad, you’re young. Barring some unforeseen incident, you will probably live into your 80s, which means that roughly 75 percent of your life is ahead of you. That amount of time is an incredible gift because it allows you to try all kinds of things in terms of your career and you can recover from almost any mistake or outright failure.
If you believe the following often-quoted statistics, most of us will have seven different careers over our lifetimes. We will also have 10 different jobs before we blow out 40 candles on our birthday cakes. But here’s the thing, as we get older, trying something new, taking a wrong turn and failing at it costs more. We may be married with families to feed and children to put through college. If you want to try something new, perhaps something a little different, or even start your own business, there’s no time like RIGHT NOW before you are saddled with all of those responsibilities. For example, it’s Fort Worth, so let’s say you wanted to start an online custom boot business where people can design their own cowboy boots down to every last detail. You make their creations in an old warehouse that’s just been refurbished and ship them to their front door. You’ve got your seed money – perhaps loans from family members and a few of your parents’ close friends – which will buy you enough time for a year of making a go of this business.
And then you fail.
You didn’t take into account a hike in your supply costs. Halfway through the first year, one of your head bootmakers quit after she had a baby and decided to become a stay-at-home mom. Then, your website was hacked and you were down for a week scrambling to get it fixed and back online. You decide at the end of the year to close up shop. So, you’ve just turned 24 and you’ve started and ended a business. Well…how awesome is that! You’ve attempted to run a business! Plus, you’ve learned in one year about the ins and outs of running a business, what most folks won’t learn in a lifetime. And you’re only 24! You’ve still got 75 percent of your life ahead of you. But now, you’ve got real world experience that others your age will never have, and while you may have a few family members and some close friends mad at you for a while about losing their investment, you’re still young, childless and single. You didn’t have to worry about how to pay the mortgage for you and your spouse or how you’re going to feed your kids.
So go. Do. Make wrong turns. Fail tremendously. Break a few eggs. Don’t forget to network with other young professionals like you and with groups like the Rising Tide Initiative and Vision Fort Worth, both of which have been highlighted in this column over the years. Time is still on your side…for now.
Next week, we finish up our month of May knowledge nuggets for new grads. Stay tuned!