I’ve always loved the speech that Bill Gates gave a high school about what the real world is about. It may have seemed brutal to the kids (what? No summers off?! That’s not fair!) but it was so true. I’ve reposted Bill’s advice below, plus added the five things I tell my kids about the real world.
1: Life is not fair – get used to it!
2: The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.
3: You will NOT make $90,000 a year right out of high school.
4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.
5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: opportunity.
6: If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes – learn from them.
7: Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills and listening to you talk about how cool you are.
8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT.
9: Life is not divided into terms. You don’t get summers off, and very few employers are interested in helping you “find yourself”. Do that in your own time.
10: TV is not real life. In real life, people have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs..
11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one!
Plus my five:
1: No one in the workforce owes you anything. You aren’t doing your boss a favour by working for them – they are doing you a favour by keeping you on and paying you a regular salary. In return, you need to give them your best: your best work, your best attitude, your best effort.
2: Work the hours you are there – don’t fritter it away on Facebook or personal calls – but don’t spend every second with your head down, chained to your desk. It’s important to take the time to get to know your workmates and become part of the team. The notion of networking seems a little contrived to me – personally, I find work more fun when you enjoy the company of those you work with. Also, those colleagues probably know a little more than you think, even those ones who have been there for years and who look like your Dad’s aunty. Especially those ones. Don’t write them off.
3: Build yourself a good reputation. Your contract may specify the hours you work, ie 8.30am to 5pm. This isn’t a target. You can start earlier, you can start later. In fact, how about you do both every so often? (And before you ask, no you can’t invoice for overtime.) Do what you can to get a reputation for being an earnest and hard worker. Reputations stick.
4: Don’t make your problems your boss’ problem. They’re running a business – not a crèche. Car troubles, flat issues, washing machine ate your only work shirt – don’t bother your boss with any of it. Your boss is not your mum. Your friends have just booked a road trip to see a band you like this weekend? Don’t get your nose out of joint if your boss doesn’t approve leave for Monday when you ask him on Friday. They’re running a business – not a crèche.
5: Own up when you make a mistake. You’ll make loads of mistakes while you’re learning early on in your career; it’s ok, we’ve all done it. The trick is to take responsibility and learn from it. Don’t be deceitful or defensive about your faux pas – take it on the chin, work to make amends, and never do it again.
What do you tell your kids about the real world?
Contact Zac and co for business coaching and business planning et al… And even mentoring of “kids” yes! We have some amazing younger generation who are very much up and coming entrepreneurs!!
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