What I Know Now...

May 31, 2017

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As May comes to a close, I have been thinking a lot about nieces, nephews and children of friends as they are graduating or getting ready to graduate.  Some are crystal clear about what's next...others not so much.  I want to help support them as they make these big life choices on their college, their major, their summer internships, first jobs, careers.  And as much as I want to give them advice, I realize the best thing I can do is listen.  Listen first, and then be ready to share a few things that I know now, and would have liked to have known as I graduated from college and headed off to my first corporate job.



  1. Define Success for yourself.  It is very easy to get sucked into how someone else will define success for you.  And if we don't define it for ourselves, we likely will take on another person's version.  A boss, mentor, sibling, significant other, parent or society in general.  Most mean well, but the risk is if we listen to their version of success, we could end up living someone else's life versus our own.  It's not that we can't get good input from these important people in our lives, just make sure that input goes into your decisions. What does a successful life look like for you?   
  2. Drive for Internal validation vs External validation.  The more internally validated we are, the more likely we will make choices that match with the life we want to live.  My senior year in college, I was accepted into one of the top two master's programs for the field I thought I wanted to go into, when P&G came on campus to interview.  At that time, the most sought-after companies on the campus to work for were P&G and IBM.  So when I was asked to interview, I jumped.  Was I more externally validated?  At first, yes...for both the master's program I was accepted into as well as the job offer from P&G.  I choose the latter, ultimately deciding what I thought would work best for me.  Are you more internally or externally validated?
  3. Mulligans are OK.  My first golf analogy appears in the blog.  Which is kind of funny since I am not a good golfer!  But that is why I am very clear on what a mulligan is...it is a second chance.  A second tee shot after hitting a poor first shot.  It's not that we mulligan takers want to hit a bad first shot, it just sometimes happens.  Even after lots of practice.  While no doubt it is very important to practice and plan to succeed, sometimes we just hit a bad shot.  And if that means the wrong choice of college, major or company that is ok.  Please just be sure to learn from the mistake and move forward.  Take some pressure off yourself, none of us are perfect.  Try again.   It is never too late to begin again!  

Are you listening first to your grads? Are you ready to share top tips you know now and wish you knew then? Please let me know yours! And stay tuned for my summer series on management & leadership.

Next month's blog focus: Heads-off vs Hands-off management style.

Kate Johnson
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