Friday, May 17, 2013

Encourage Graduates to be Tremendous

College graduation season is upon us. It is an exciting time as students and their families celebrate the culmination of a journey that entailed hours of attending classes, engaging in studying, taking exams, and writing papers. Graduation closes one chapter and serves as a bridge to the next- the launch of one's professional career. This year, that bridge has the stability of a monkey bridge as competition is stout for entry level opportunities. The National Association of Colleges and Employers projects that 1,791,000 students will graduate college in 2013, and the employment outlook for new college graduates is not very promising. One estimate puts the number of new graduates being hired this year at 2.1 percent higher than 2012 but far short of an earlier projection of a 13 percent rise. The realities of the current labor market require new grads to think about how to best position their personal brand to stand out.

My advice to this year's college graduates (and anyone else working on their personal brand) is simply "Be Tremendous." The inspiration for this advice is Charlie "Tremendous" Jones. He was a top insurance salesman before beginning his own personal development company. He also was an author; his book Life is Tremendous has sold nearly 2 million copies since its release in 1968. Jones was a voracious reader and encouraged others to do the same to build knowledge and expand thinking. He pointed out that the average American reads one or two books a year, so if we read one book a month we put ourselves far ahead the norm.

Quotes are a form of "mind candy." They provide quick bursts of energy and focus that can help shake us from the doldrums. For me, Charlie "Tremendous" Jones is the source of one of the most powerful quotes I have ever come across:

 "You are the same today as you'll be in five years except for two things: The books you read and the people you meet."

College graduates working on launching their professional career will be well served to follow Jones's advice. While one's college career might signal the conclusion of formal education, we should never cease in our quest to learn. Reading books is crucial to broadening our horizons. Yes, we want to expand our knowledge in our chosen field, but reading in general is beneficial to furthering intellectual development.

When it comes to the people you meet, students aspiring to become sports business professionals are well versed in the importance of networking to make contacts that can lead to an entry level opportunity. Social networking sites such as LinkedIn expand the geographic reach and ease of connecting with others. At the same time, face-to-face networking remains a powerful connector. Expanding your network is vital, but keep in mind the important outcome is now who you know, but who knows you. Go beyond a commitment to meet people and strive to add value to the people you meet.

Best wishes to the Class of 2013. You have worked hard and now your time has come... your time to Be Tremendous, that is.