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Vail Daily column: Annual unsolicited advice to graduates

Congratulations to our local high school and Colorado Mountain College graduates. Special kudos to those who graduate from CMC with an associate's degree prior to receiving their high school diploma (and many thanks to Eagle County Schools and CMC for the dual-enrollment program).

There is no better stage of life to offer unsolicited advice to young adults (even better — unsolicited advice from an old guy) than graduation. That said, my annual unsolicited advice to our graduates:

• A great customer experience is a competitive advantage.

• Dogs don't bark at parked cars. Keep plugging ahead and ignore the barkers.

• Time is your most valuable asset — and you need to prioritize how you spend it.

• Your material wealth won't make you a better — or happier — person. Money only amplifies that which is already present.

• You'll never achieve your goals if you don't get out of your comfort zone.

• Business is like running: When you're going uphill and you want to quit, don't. Move slower if you must, but keep going. You will get there.

• Get involved in your community. Donating time is as valuable as donating money.

• Your talent means nothing without consistent effort and practice.

• Now is the only time that matters, so stop wasting it by ruminating on the past or planning the future.

• Your ambition means nothing without execution — you need to put in the work.

• People who do things better than you are your teachers, not your competition.

• Sometimes things don't go as planned. Accept it and move on.

• A goal without a plan is simply a wish.

• When people praise you, don't let it go to your head.

• When people criticize you, don't let it go to your heart.

• Surround yourself with those who challenge and push you.

• "Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all." — Dale Carnegie

• "The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new." — Socrates

• Beginning is always the hardest part. Push yourself to keep going. It gets easier.

• Consistency creates habits, and habits create positive results.

• If you want to get better, then some pain is unavoidable. Don't shy away from it.

• Happiness shouldn't be put on hold until you reach your goal. Enjoy as much as you can along the way, even when the going gets tough.

• Don't let your desire for improvement rob you of pride in small victories.

• "You're off to great places. Today is your day. Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way." — Dr. Seuss

Congratulations to our graduates. Dr. Seuss is right: You are off to great places and you are on your way to great things. There are going to be people in the world who are going to tell you that it (whatever "it" might be) is impossible. They'll tell you you're crazy, hopeless or lost.

Don't you dare believe them. If you want it, then go get it. The beginning is the hardest part, but in the end the effort and work will be worth it. Do not quit. You've got this. Commit to doing your best, persevere through the hard times, surround yourself with good people and put in the work.

Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at http://www.vailvalleypartnership.com.