It’s graduation season, and as I do every year, I love reading the commencement addresses from so many thought-provoking people. From Sandra Bullock’s “If someone doesn’t want to play with you, it’s okay!” to a U.S. Navy Admiral’s “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed” I am constantly inspired by the great nuggets of information.

So, I started imagining the speech I would give after winning my Pulitzer Prize (don’t mock, you know you do it too.) What have I learned and what did I wish I knew back when I graduated college? And here is what I came up with:

Sleep. As you continue to build your life, there will be more and more reasons that you will not get enough slumber. Go to bed early, and get eight hours of sleep. Do it now, as there will be a time when you would give away your left arm for just one more hour.

Don’t think college —  or high school — is the pinnacle of your life. Ever. And if you do, you’re living your life wrong.

But keep in touch. Your friends that knew you before you started your “real” life will be important support systems when you fail. And notice I said when.

Find a hobby. Networking for business is important, but networking for life is essential. Take a wine class, learn to play golf, get your black belt, join a bike riding club, take up running. Do something besides work, because some day you may have a family and real responsibilities, and your “passion” may be the only thing that keeps your sanity. Trust me.

Go to the dentist. Less than half of people age 22-34 go to the dentist yearly. And guess what? They also have the most tooth decay and cavities. Root canals suck. Take care of your teeth, and they will take care of you.

+ Always say yes when someone asks you to go have a drink, a cup of coffee or a meal. Building relationships can help your career, but it also helps you live a happier life. And when you’re young you move a lot and can always use some help.

Don’t ever be afraid to start at the bottom and do the grunt work. No matter what age you are. You learn the most by doing. I can still solve any paper jam known to man based on the skills I learned at my first job.

Live frugally. You will feel like you are making a ton of money, but that will not stop Visa from knocking on your door.

Travel. Go. Anywhere. Travel abroad, take a drive, go to a museum. Experience life. Because one day you are going to be so busy that a three-day trip will seem like a small military maneuver.

Call your mom and dad. Often. They invested a lot in your upbringing, and you owe it to them. Ask their advice, even when you don’t need it. But don’t ask for money. Even though they’ll give it to you anyway.

Congratulations to the class of 2014! Go forth and conquer!



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