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10 Things You Should Know Before Graduation

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10 Things You Should Know Before Graduation

If you know these things before you graduate:

  • You may either decide not to graduate at all
  • Or you may graduate making more money than you thought you would by age 40.

1. You Will Likely Need To Unlearn A Lot Of Your Schooling

“The current (educational) structure, which seeks low-cost uniformity that meets minimum standards, is killing our economy, our culture, and us.”―Seth Godin

In the late 1800’s, schools were designed and intended to teach obedience. During the rise of our industrial age, big corporations needed workers for their factories.

The purpose of the academic system was the creation of obedient and compliant workers who never asked meaningful questions. The system was not created to produce scholars and thinkers for tomorrow. There were already tons of scholars at the time.

No. The big businesses needed laborers who would submissively do whatever they needed.

Thus, the creation of the standardized test. Our academic system itself becomes a factory to standardize all of the rising students to ensure they fit the desired mold. If the student failed the tests, they would be held back another year to try again.

Thus, the most frequently asked question in school: Will this be on the test?

Despite the fact that our world has dramatically changed since the late 1800’s, our school systems are structured the same way.

Despite the fact that we can all connect on the internet, there are 10,000 teachers giving the same lecture on a given day across the country. There’s something disturbingly wrong about this. Why don’t they all connect to the same lecture online performed by the best teacher on the subject?

The internet has changed the world. If you want to learn something, you don’t need to get an encyclopedia anymore. You can go to Wikipedia, or Youtube, or a million other places online. There are tons of programs that teach people how to learn things effectively at optimal speeds.

Not only does our model of education not make sense, but the structure of business has changed since the 1800’s as well.

The world is moving to an entrepreneurial and innovation driven economy. It is projected that by 2020, over one billion people will be working from their homes. In the future of work, less people will work for one company as generalists and instead will work for multiple companies as specialists.

The world doesn’t need obedient and compliant factory workers anymore. The world needs artists, creatives, hackers, and innovators. The world needs more emotion and relevance. We desire deeper connection. We’re done with apathetically living out our lives in school and at our 9-5 jobs. We’re sick of it. We’re done with it.

And the best part—the new economy wants it as well.

2. College Degrees Are Becoming Increasingly Irrelevant

“Five years from now, on the Web —for free—you’ll be able to find the best lectures in the world. It will be better than any single university.”Bill Gates (in 2010)

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Far too many kids go to college because they don’t want to let their parents down. The parents have the 9-5 worldview and have perpetuated it to their children. The parents don’t realize the stark changes in the world and future of work. The parents don’t realize they are doing their children a huge disservice.

Whatever it is you want to learn, just know that college isn’t the only option. There are loads of online courses available—many for free.

The goal should be learning, not names on pieces of paper. If college is where you’re going to get the right education you need, then go there. If you can get it better, faster, and cheaper somewhere else, think twice.

The market doesn’t care if you have a degree or not. The market just wants your best work.

3. You Should Know If College Will Get You Where You Want To Go

“Cat: Where are you going? Alice: Which way should I go? Cat: That depends on where you are going. Alice: I don’t know. Cat: Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”―Lewis Carroll

And that’s the problem. So many people have no clue where their ideal destination in life is.

Do you know where you want to go?

Success is an intrinsic concept. It should be self-generated and not based on societal or cultural norms. You decide what you want in life, what makes you happy, and go for that.

In today’s world, college is probably not the most effective way to get where you want to go. All of the tools are in place to start doing what you want to do now. You just need to know what you want to do and have the courage to start.

With that said, college is absolutely the right place to be for many people. And the people that know this generally flourish while they are there. They are purposeful and focused. They are moving toward their ideal destination in life. College is the correct means for their desired ends.

You must ask yourself as Peter Thiel does—“How can you achieve your 10 year plan in the next 6 months?”

There is always a better and faster path to your ideal than the one you’re taking. If you realize college isn’t for you, don’t stay in just because you’ve already put a lot of time and resources into it.

Psychologists have a term called sunk cost fallacy, which explains that people often make horrible decisions because they’ve already invested into a certain choice. Walk away. The further you continue the wrong direction, the longer it will take you to get back on your ideal path.

4. You Are Your Only Competition

“When everybody zigs, zag”—Marty Neumeier

If art, passion, authenticity, and innovation are the needed ingredients of the future, than you need to step away from comparing and competing with other people.

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Innovators stop competing and delve into uncharted territory. You are an innovator. You simply need to tap into your own unique identity, and dive into what makes you happy. You can create art and do work that no one else can do. You see the world in your own unique way—now show us that world.

Don’t get caught living other people’s dreams. Don’t lose yourself in the propaganda and agenda of society. Be you and everyone will be the benefactor—not the least of which is you.

Never forget these words from Oscar Wilde—“Everything popular is wrong.” Don’t follow the masses. It’s a long slow slog that won’t get you very far.

5. The Choices You Make Now Will Impact The Rest Of Your Life

“’…Your twenties: the decade of decision.’ Amen.”—David Archuleta

Your twenties are your decade of decision. These years in large measure dictate the rest of your life.

Who do you want to be?

What kind of work do you want to do?

What kind of lifestyle do you want to have?

What kind of people do you want to spend time with?

When life gets more complicated, and you have more responsibilities, you won’t have the same flexibility you have now. It will be harder to adjust your path. Right now, you can go whichever direction you want.

6. You Shouldn’t Wait Until After College To Do All You Want To Do

“Professor Harold Hill: You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to make today worth remembering.”―Meredith Willson

In his book, The 4-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferriss teaches what he terms, the deferred-life plan. The essence of this idea is waiting to live. It is best expressed in the concept of retirement. So many people defer the life of their dreams until retirement. They defer happiness. They consciously live a life they despise.

You don’t have to do this.

You don’t need permission to start living your dreams. You don’t need a college degree to give you permission either. You are the gatekeeper to living your own life to the fullest.

Gary Vaynerchuck has said that in your 20’s and 30’s, you should be taking huge risks in your career. Maybe, when you hit age 40, you should start getting more conservative. At that point, you will likely have more responsibilities and need to think differently.

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But right now, while you’re in college, there is zero risk. Not only is there no risk, but you have tons of time! College does not require 40 hours per week. Chances are, you have 20-30 hours per week you could put into your dreams if you want.

Actually, college is the best time to become an entrepreneur. If you play your cards right, you could become successful enough that you can quit school. Or, by the time you graduate, you could be earning more money doing your own thing than you could have at an entry level job.

It doesn’t take that much time to build a lucrative online business anymore. If you put a solid year or two in, you could be wildly successful doing exactly what you want.

7. There Are Two Worlds Of Work

Dan Sullivan of Strategic coach has explained this far more beautifully than I ever could. For this reason, I will provide a long quote of his.

“At the turn of the last century, factories revolutionized the way goods were produced and delivered to the public. With factory work came a different attitude toward workers. They were parts in a machine and could be replaced. While they were working, it was necessary to ensure that things ran as uniformly and predictably as possible. Every day’s work was the same, and compensation was given in exchange for the length of time worked. Working long hours was a sign of loyalty. In sum, theirs was a bureaucratic time system. I call it “The Time-and-Effort Economy.”

Today, bureaucratic systems are breaking down. Advances in technology have radically shifted our thinking, emphasizing the limitless creative potential of the individual. Entrepreneurs are on the leading edge of this trend, stepping free from old structures to innovate and create value with greater speed and adaptability than lumbering institutions, which are focused on perpetuating themselves rather than serving their markets. Entrepreneurs live in what I call “The Results Economy.”

They get paid only for the results they produce, based on the value these results create for their clients and customers. Theirs is an entrepreneurial time system. Why, then, do so many entrepreneurs still operate as if it mattered how long or how hard they work? An unhealthy notion of virtue has become attached to burnout, regardless of whether the long hours have produced any results. This thinking completely misses the point of being an entrepreneur, which is freedom. One world of work is the industrial factory model that the academic system funnels people into. Be incredibly weary of this world of work. You will lose your soul. This is the 9-5 model. You will spend your time doing someone else’s agenda. You will be the slave to your boss. You will not have a lot of freedom or flexibility in your schedule.”

Which world of work will you choose? The Time-and-Effort Economy or The Results Economy?

8. You Might Be Pursuing A Shadow Dream—Which Would Be Bad

“We tend to pursue “shadow careers” – jobs that are similar to our dreams, but not quite our dreams.”—Ben Arment

People do this all the time. They dream of being a novelist but instead become an English professor. They dream of owning a gym but instead become a gym teacher. They dream of becoming a race car driver but instead become a mechanic.

“Shadow dreams” reflect your dream but are a far less risky version. This reflects a lack of belief that you can do it. That you can really make it doing what you love.

I believe the mass population is pursuing shadow dreams. They say they’re doing what they love. But they really don’t. They wish they were doing something different. They’ve settled for far less than they could’ve had.

Don’t settle for a shadow dream.

9. You’re Probably Thinking Too Small For Yourself

“Those who believe they can move mountains, do. Those who believe they can’t, cannot. Belief triggers the power to do.”―David J. Schwartz

You’ve probably had your dreams beaten into submission. You’ve been told to be realistic. To fit-in. This is all horrible advice.

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As Napoleon Hill has said—“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”

It really comes down to being creative and imaginative, then believing you can actually do it. If you don’t believe it, it won’t happen. But if you can think it and believe it, you can do it. No matter how big. No matter how unrealistic.

The world needs bigger thinking. Tim Ferriss recently interviewed Peter Diamandis and both agreed that most startups are only providing incremental improvement to what already exists. The world needs more exponential improvements. The world needs people to pursue “moonshot” goals. Go big and be bold.

If abundance is where we’re going, bold is the pathway. The world progresses because of big thinkers who are bold enough to try. Be one of those big thinkers. You’re in college. There’s no risk. Change the world.

There has never been a time like this in the history of the world. A large majority of the world’s most successful people are in their 20’s and 30’s. We live in a time when you can create something that quickly becomes a billion dollar company.

“Want to become a billionaire? Then help a billion people. The world’s biggest problems are the world’s biggest business opportunities.”—Peter Diamandis

10. Freedom And Security Are Not The Same Thing

“He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither.”—Benjamin Franklin

The desire for security is rooted in the emotion of fear. People who are seeking security perceive a scarcity of jobs and resources. Consequently, they want to put themselves in the safest position—devoid of as much risk as possible.

Unfortunately, this mindset often leads people into jobs they hate but will never quit (“golden handcuffs”).

It has been said that, “freedom is the heavy cost of security.” People would rather feel safe and secure than free. They have become a slave to their jobs and they lack the courage to take the leap. The risks are perceived as too great to live the life of their dreams.

This whole notion of security is completely misconstrued. There can be no security in external things—only slavery and dependence. The only true form of security a person can have is internal. If they are secure in themselves, than they are free. Otherwise, they are slaves.

Conclusion

Right now is the best time in the world to be a student or recent graduate. Our global economy yields infinite opportunities to create a life of freedom doing what you love. There are little to no risks at this time in your life.

Crush it.

Featured photo credit: Girl Reading Magazine In Hotel Bed/ Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on August 25, 2021

Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

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Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

As a recruiter, I have met and interviewed hundreds of candidates who have no idea who they are.

Without a personal brand, candidates struggle to answer the question: “tell me about yourself—who are you?” They have no idea about who they are, what their strengths are, and how they can add value to the company. They present their CV’s believing that their CV is the key to their career success. In some ways, your CV still has its use. However, in today’s job market, you need more than a CV to stand out in a crowd.

According to Celinne Da Costa:[1]

“Personal brand is essentially your golden ticket to networking with the right people, getting hired for a dream job, or building an influential business.” She believes that “a strong personal brand allows you to stand out in an oversaturated marketplace by exposing desired audiences to your vision, skillset, and personality in a way that is strategically aligned with your career goals.”

A personal brand opens up your world to so many more career opportunities that you would never have been exposed to with just your CV.

What Is Your Personal Brand?

“Personal branding is how you distinctively market your uniqueness.” —Bernard Kelvin Clive

Today, the job market is very competitive and tough. Having a great CV will only let you go so far because everyone has a CV, but no one else has your distinct personal brand! It is your personal brand that differentiates you from everyone else and that is what people buy—you.

Your personal brand is your mark on the world. It is how people you interact with and the world see you. It is your legacy—it is more important than a business brand because your personal brand lasts forever.

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I have coached people who have very successful careers, and they come to me because they have suddenly found that they are not getting the opportunities or having the conversations that would them to their next role. They are having what I call a “career meltdown,” all because they have no personal brand.

A personal brand helps you become conscious of your differences and your uniqueness. It allows you to position yourself in a way that makes you stand out from the pack, especially among other potential job applicants.

Don’t get me wrong, having a great CV and a great LinkedIn profile is important. However, there are a few steps that you have to take to have a CV and LinkedIn profile that is aligned to who you are, the value you offer to the market, and the personal guarantee that you deliver results.

Building your personal brand is about strategically, creatively, and professionally presenting what makes you, you. Knowing who you are and the value you bring to the table enables you to be more informed, agile, and adaptable to the changing dynamic world of work. This is how you can avoid having a series of career meltdowns.

Your Personal Brand Is Essential for Your Career Success

In her article, Why Personal Branding Is More Important Than Ever, Caroline Castrillon outlines key reasons why a personal brand is essential for career success.

According to Castrillon,[2]

“One reason is that it is more popular for recruiters to use social media during the interview process. According to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and 43% of employers use social media to check on current employees.”

The first thing I do as a recruiter when I want to check out a candidate or coaching client is to look them up on LinkedIn or other social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Your digital footprint is the window that highlights to the world who you are. When you have no control over how you want to be seen, you are making a big mistake because you are leaving it up to someone else to make a judgment for you as to who you are.

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As Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, once said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.”

In her book, Becoming, Michelle Obama writes about the importance of having a personal brand and her journey to defining her personal brand. She wrote that:

“if you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”

When you have a personal brand, you are in control. You know exactly what people will say about you when you leave the room.

The magic of a personal brand is that gives you control over how you want to be seen in the world. Your confidence and self-belief enable you to leverage opportunities and make informed decisions about your career and your future. You no longer experience the frustrations of a career meltdown or being at a crossroads not knowing what to do next with your career or your life. With a personal brand, you have focus, clarity, and a strategy to move forward toward future success.

Creating your personal brand does not happen overnight. It takes a lot of work and self-reflection. You will be expected to step outside of your comfort zone not once, but many times.

The good news is that the more time you spend outside of your comfort zone, the more you will like being there. Being outside of your comfort zone is where you can test the viability of and fine-tune your personal brand.

5 Key Steps to Creating Your Personal Brand

These five steps will help you create a personal brand that will deliver you the results you desire with your career and in life.

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1. Set Your Personal Goals

What is it that you want to do in the next five years? What will your future self be doing in the next five to ten years? What is important to you? If you can answer these questions, then you are on the right path. If not, then you have to start thinking about them.

2. Create Your Unique Value Proposition

Create your unique value proposition by asking yourself these four questions:

  1. What are your personality features? What benefit do you offer people?
  2. Who are you and why do people enjoy working with you?
  3. What do you do and what do people want you to do for them? How do you solve their problems?
  4. What makes you different from others like you?

The answers to these questions will give you the information you need to create your professional story, which is the key step to creating your personal brand.

3. Write Your Professional Story

Knowing who you are, what you want, and the unique value you offer is essential to you creating your professional story. People remember stories. Your personal story incorporates your value proposition and tells people who you are and what makes you unique. This is what people will remember about you.

4. Determine Which Platforms Will Support Your Personal Brand

Decide which social media accounts and online platforms will best represent your brand and allow you to share your voice. In a professional capacity, having a LinkedIn profile and a CV that reflects your brand is key to your positioning in relation to role opportunities. People will be connecting with you because they will like the story you are telling.

5. Become Recognized for Sharing Your Knowledge and Expertise

A great way for you to promote yourself is by sharing knowledge and helping others. This is where you prove you know your stuff and you gain exposure for doing so. You can do this through social media, writing, commenting, video, joining professional groups, networking, etc. Find your own style and uniqueness and use it to attract clients, the opportunities, or the jobs you desire.

The importance of having a personal brand is not going to go away. In fact, it is the only way where you can stand out and be unique in a complex changing world of work. If you don’t have a personal brand, someone will do it for you. If you let this happen, you have no control and you may not like the story they create.

Standing out from others takes time and investment. Most people cannot make the change by themselves, and this is where engaging a personal brand coach is a viable option to consider.

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As a personal brand coach, working with my clients to create their personal brand is my passion. I love the fact that we can work together to create a personal story that defines exactly what people will say when you leave the room.

Other People’s Stories

Listening to other people’s stories is a great way to learn. In his article, 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding, Rafael Dos Santos presents the best Ted Talks where speakers share their stories about the “why,” “what,” and “how” of personal branding.((GuidedPR: 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding))

Take some time out to listen to these speakers sharing their stories and thoughts about personal branding. You will definitely learn so much about how you can start your journey of defining yourself and taking control of your professional and personal life.

Your personal brand, without a doubt, is your secret weapon to your career success. As Michelle Obama said,

“your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.”

So, go own your story. Go on the journey to create your personal brand that defines who you are, highlights your uniqueness, and the value you offer to the world.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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