Vail Daily column: Unsolicited advice for graduates |

Vail Daily column: Unsolicited advice for graduates

Chris Romer
Vail Valley Partnership

High school graduation is this weekend and thus, congratulations are in order to all graduates from our local high schools. Graduation is synonymous with advice. With that, here is a list of things that I wish someone had shared with me when I was 18 years old and ready to conquer the world:

1. Get involved in your community. Being involved and engaged will open up opportunities that you’ll be thankful for and ones that will build life-long friendships.

2. … But don’t just be involved for the sake of being involved. Be engaged.

3. Save money. No really, start saving for retirement now.

4. Experiences are better than stuff.

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5. Get to work before your boss. Perception is reality and your boss will perceive you as hard working and dedicated to the job if you arrive before them.

6. Hard work pays off.

7. Think before you post something on social media.

8. Have a plan. Good things don’t happen by accident.

9. Many jobs are never advertised.

10. Innovation is disruptive. Embrace this reality and don’t fight it.

11. The customer isn’t always right. But if you want them to remain your customer, accept they can be wrong and work to make it right. Customer service is important regardless of whatever professional field you choose.

12. Treat people well. People do business with people. It’s the personal connection — the relationship — that builds the business.

13. Fake it till you become it.

14. Have fun.

15. Enjoy the roller coaster. There will always be ups and downs. Embrace the ups and learn from the downs.

16. Always strive to improve.

17. Recognize that once lost, it is hard to re-earn trust.

18. Rebel against the idea, “that’s the way we’ve always done it.” Run, as fast as possible, from this mentality or culture. It’s not one that’s conducive to professional growth.

19. Follow thought leaders in your industry.

20. Find a mentor.

21. Be a mentor.

22. Surround yourself with a great team that pushes you.

23. Never stop learning.

24. Winners write history. Losers lament on social media.

25. To paraphrase Mark Twain, the world owes you nothing. You have to earn it. Whatever “it” is.

26. Attitudes are contagious. Surround yourself with people with good ones, or you will suffer regardless of your output.

27. Smile.

28. There is no “secret sauce” in work or life — it’s all about hard work and taking care of the customer.

29. Remember that the internal customer — your teammates, your boss, your stakeholders — are equally important. A dysfunctional team will have trouble taking care of their customers.

30. Stick your neck out every once in a while, but only for things that are impactful and important.

31. Do things for others.

32. Become comfortable with speaking in public and in front of a group.

33. Vote in every election. Your town council and county commissioners will have a bigger impact on your life than the president.

34. Being busy isn’t an explanation nor is it an answer. Worse, it’s lazy. It’s an excuse and has no place in a professional environment.

35. Recognize the truth inherent in “it’s not whether you win or lose, but how you played the game.”

36. … But also recognize that winning or losing is pretty important in life.

37. Display strong ethics in all that you do.

38. Do your homework, and don’t pronounce names like you’re John Travolta.

39. Don’t promise to give 110 percent. Employers might expect that you’ll work incredibly hard, but they’ll also expect you to screw up basic math.

40. If you do nothing else on this list, then follow Harry Truman’s advice: “It’s amazing what you can get done if you don’t care who gets credit.”

Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership.

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