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Lessons from a Waitress on College & Career Success

When a three-time Pulitzer Prize winning, bestselling author talks, we would all be smart to listen carefully, and that’s exactly what I did as New York Times Journalist Thomas Friedman spoke to almost 5,000 college admission and high school guidance personnel at a recent conference.  His message about tech trends, job trends, and vital skills necessary for young people to thrive in the work force was consummately appropriate for people who counsel college-bound students.  His message was so powerful and important, that I think I would be remiss and perhaps even irresponsible if I did not pass it along so that it could reach as broad an audience as possible.

Friedman talked about the five qualities that successful people (including students) should possess:

1. Think like an immigrant- People who are new to this country understand that there is no legacy spot waiting for them. They do not have the luxury of following in the footsteps of those who preceeded them. Instead, they must find their own opportunities. They see the biggest trends and pursue them with more vigor and dedication than almost anyone else. They are “paranoid optomists”.  They know and understand that opportunity can be taken away. We are all immigrants in a hyper-connected world.  The important take away, STAY HUNGRY.

2. Think like an artisan-The best artisans have always taken so much pride in their exceptional work that they carve their initials in it.  We should all take that much pride in our work. We should be willing to put our name on everything we produce.

3. Think like a starter upper – Always live in “Beta” (as in beta-testing a website) where your work can be 80%-90% done, but it is always a work in progress because you understand that there is always a need to learn, re-learn and re-engineer.

4. PQ +CQ>IQ     Personal quotient +Curiosity Quotient is greater than Intelligence Quotient

Passion, curiosity and motivation are more important than what you know.

5. Think like a waitress at Perkins Pancake House in Michigan – It took me a few minutes to follow this one, but it’s a great anecdote. A Perkins waitress who really can’t control much did control the fruit ladle and gave Tom Friedman’s friend extra fruit…she thought entrepreneurially and her tip went up 50%. BE RELENTLESSLY ENTREPRENEURIAL.

Mr. Friedman indicates that the above qualities will help workers differentiate themselves, and make themselves more indispensible when layoffs come around.  The most valuable workers are those who invent jobs and who bring such uniqueness to their work that they make themselves invaluable.

How will you invent or re-invent yourself?

Article written by College App Wizard

College App Wizard
Lynell's 20 years of experience as a college counselor, consultant to The College Board, an Associate Director of Admissions and Director of Financial Aid have given her a unique insider's perspective to the college application process. She has helped countless students and parents navigate the path to college. She also volunteers her time with several non profit organizations to help low income students go to college.

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