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Everybody has one…

By Joe Tillman | 05/24/2012 | 5:00 AM

Belly buttonI hate commencement speeches. Actually I loathe them. I’ve attended three graduations, of which one was mine (from high school).

What really puts my panties in a wad are all those pundits, prognosticators, talking heads, newspaper journalists, magazine editors, opinion piece writers, etc. who think they are giving the commencement speech no graduate has ever heard or relating things the commencement speaker should, but won’t tell you.

What I’ve learned over the years is that these guys suffer from belly button syndrome – everybody has one and they all stink but mine.  

The most recent one is from the Wall Street Journal – “10 Things Your Commencement Speaker Won't Tell You.”  A couple of them floored me, but the most egregious was “Don’t try to be great.” The author further elaborates that being great is luck, beyond our control. In other words being great is serendipitous and as long as we don’t think about it, it will happen.

Stop the presses! I can be a couch potato and still be great. Really?

No, not really.

Being great is just like being creative, building relationships, or communicating well. It takes time and practice. And you need to understand your overarching lifelong goal. Define it and the steps you believe it will take to get you there.  Review it with your mentor, who can help refine those steps and help you achieve your goal.

There are some skills to acquire before we leave college. Unfortunately, these skills are not taught in college or at home anymore. Amanda Haddaway, author of Destination Real World: Success After Graduation, details 25 things we should have learned such as dealing with stress, transitioning from school to work, developing a personal brand and more. It’s a good guide for those young professionals just starting out.

Oh, and my belly button advice to the class of 2012 – Don’t Wait!

I’d love your feedback – and would love your help in sharing questions and comments about being a young professional. If you have a question, comment or feedback, please send me an email to [email protected].  The blog on the last Wednesday of each month will be a question and answer session from those that I receive from you, my audience. If I use your question, I will send you a free copy of a book mentioned in that month’s posts.


[Image: Belly button by Ragnhildur Guðrún via Flickr]



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About Joe Tillman

Joe Tillman

An enthusiastic and dedicated professional, Joe Tillman offers supply chain education and research through his company TSquared Logistics. Joe has a keen interest in all things supply chain and uses his high-energy approach to life to author articles for industry publications, blog on young professionals for DC Velocity, and speak to supply chain industry groups. He also co-leads the Warehousing Education and Research Council's influential annual benchmarking study, "DC Measures." Prior to founding TSquared Logistics, Joe worked with Supply Chain Visions as a senior researcher and consultant, Wal-Mart Logistics as a distribution professional, and Union Pacific Railroad as a conductor. Joe is certified in transportation and logistics (CTL) by AST&L and SCOR-Professional certified by the Supply Chain Council.


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