CNBC: Attention Grads: What Makes You Tick?, writes Michael Berland

CNBC: Attention Grads: What Makes You Tick?
Published on Jun 15, 2009

A lot of advice is being offered up to the graduating class of 2009 – especially since the job market seems so bleak.

And nearly everyone who has some words of wisdom for the grads suggests they “follow their dreams.” Sounds good, sounds hopeful, sounds ideal – but, you gotta wonder, do dreams really pay the bills?

Well, yes in fact they do – if you believe what the authors of “What Makes You Tick? How Successful People Do It – And What You Can Learn from Them”.

The authors – two pollsters – interviewed some of the world’s most successful people and found a constant theme. Those who have found success found early on in life what they were good at – and learned how to leverage their strength.

Good advice for graduates looking to show the world (and their parents) they’re more than ready for the challenge.

Below is a guest blog written by one of the authors, Michael Berland:

Dear Recent Graduates and the People Who Love Them,

This commencement season, anxious graduates have gotten advice urging you to hang tough or “buck up” until things recover and you can begin climbing the career ladder of your choice.

What many commencement speakers miss is that no matter what the economic climate, your waiting for your career path to reveal itself is as misguided as your waiting for the Titanic to pop back up to the surface.

Forget false optimism. My business partner in the polling and research firm we run and I did a recent analysis of how extremely successful people found success in their chosen field.

We interviewed and tried to find commonalties and distinctions among 45 of the most successful people in business, sports, fashion and entertainment.

Here are the take-aways:

Your first job will not be your last job. And it shouldn’t be; the people who are at the top of their game in their chosen fields now are living proof.

NBC anchor Brian Williams [GE 15.39 -0.17 (-1.09%) ] told us he started out as a firefighter. Chef and restaurateur Bobby Flay described how very early on he was a clerk on the floor of the American Stock Exchange. Barry Sternlicht, founder of the W Hotels and Starwood Resorts [HOT 47.32 0.37 (+0.79%) ], sold knives door to door and cut onions in a restaurant.

Be ready to take a chance on the unlikely or unfamiliar. Experiment. Be fearless.

It’s been said many times in other ways before, but Ambassador Richard Holbrooke put it to us like this “Failure is a great teacher. People who are trying to learn how to succeed should try failure more often.”

Be inventive. As tempting as it is in tough economic times, don’t automatically take the first “safe” or “stable” thing that comes your way. Go for something that fits with who you are or the kind of person you want to become.

Today, the opportunities are there for people who are smart, have learned lots of different kinds of things, and are still flexible and curious. Even in a seemingly dead-end job or a corporate job, be entrepreneurial – it helps you grow.

Read the full article

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