Career Advice for Recent Graduates – Or Anyone In Need


Being a Commencement Speaker

I was the commencement speaker at the Wayne State University Commencement in Detroit on May 7th. It was a big occasion with thousands of attendees held at Ford Field the stadium of the Detroit Lions. It was an honor to be asked and I’d like to share some of my speech with you as well.


When I speak to groups of young people, I always try to positively impact their lives. I thought you might find it useful to hear some of the career advice I’ve given to many of the people I have taught or mentored. I’m going to suggest three tips that can give you a fast start as you enter the workplace.

TIP NUMBER 1 is to demonstrate your commitment to your organization by getting to work early, leaving late, and remaining fully engaged in everything you’re asked to do. In other words – PUT IN THE TIME! That sounds simple enough – but so many young people today are operating as if they’re punching a time clock. Believe me, that gets noticed. And not in a positive way!

TIP NUMBER 2 relates to understanding your organization’s mission. When my daughter was starting her career, I said to her, “Memorize your company’s mission statement.” She immediately responded with “Dad, do I really need to memorize it?” I said ABSOLUTELY. But, it’s not so you can impress people by reciting it. It’s so the mission will be permanently embedded in your brain. As you observe the company’s actions and decisions, or have to make decisions of your own, you can readily test them against the stated mission of the organization. Since it is critically important for an organization to stay true to it’s mission, you will be in the right frame of mind to make an impact.

TIP NUMBER 3 is perhaps the most difficult, but also in my view is the MOST IMPORTANT! As I thought about my New York Life experience, I asked myself what is the biggest career blocker and deficiency among my employees – even among high level executives? The answer came to me quickly; they simply don’t understand or appreciate the importance of financial results. So I said to my daughter (who had no accounting courses and hated math) “Find someone in the accounting department who can give you a rudimentary understanding of the balance sheet and income statement of the organization. Not in great detail, but at a high conceptual level. Once you feel comfortable with the understanding, go back to the accountant and ask the “KILLER QUESTION” and ask it in exactly this way.


What drives a profitable business?

Let me recap my three tips to get your career on the fast track:

  • Put in the time.
  • Memorize the corporate mission statement.
  • Gain an understanding of the company’s income statement and balance sheet and what drives it’s profitability.

Let me say one last thing about success. About achieving HAPPINESS. Happiness can be a very elusive concept that many people chase after for a lifetime. In that regard, I think there’s one tip that trumps all others. Identify and understand your values, your god-given gifts, and your passions. In short, discover what’s in your heart and in your soul. Then follow those passions – using your god given gifts – while remaining true to your values. If you do, I guarantee you, you will find lifelong happiness and TRUE SUCCESS.


Comments from Original Blog Post

admin 3.25.16

I am so glad they were inspirational for you! Have a great day, David!

David 12.18.15

Fred shared these tips with my Wayne State University class over 2 years ago, and I still use them today. They are great pieces of wisdom. Thanks for sharing them here!

Alma 7.7.15

Thank you for sharing, God Bless You and Your Family..