The beginning of the school year is one of my favorite times of the year. Though it's been years since I was sitting at a desk in a classroom, I get a little nostalgic when I see a school bus. I still take every opportunity I can to learn . . . and to teach.
So I was really flattered to get a letter from Professor F. Bailey Norwood at Oklahoma State University who is teaching a class in the Agricultural Economics Department. She is requiring all her students to read my book, "Pushing the Envelope."
Over the years, I've been contacted by a number of professors who use some of my books as textbooks or required reading for their classes. Many choose my first two books, "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive" and "Beware The Naked Man Who Offers You His Shirt." Still others choose my networking book, "Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty." It's very gratifying to hear from students who have studied my work and have embraced the opportunity to learn from my successes and especially my failures. In education, we are striving to teach you not to make a living, but to make a life.
Professor Norwood asked me if I would write a letter to her class to "provide them encouragement and practical advice." She stressed how she wanted her "students to feel special, like they are more than just another tuition-paying student. This makes them work harder for me, which subsequently causes them to learn more."
Her letter was full of concepts I've written about, and I was delighted to fulfill her request. Education is an investment and never an expense.
The first thing I suggested to these students was not to just read "Pushing The Envelope." Study it! Underline it! Highlight it! Use Post-it notes!
School is a building that has four walls with tomorrow inside. And you must remember that unlike in school, employers don't pay off on effort, they pay off on results. And the best way to get results in any field is to know that knowledge does not become power until it is used . . . and ideas without action are worthless.
How can you improve your probability for success? Here are several points to consider:
No one can do it alone. Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto. If you study successful people, a large percentage of them had mentors along the way. And remember, mentors change over a lifetime. There are more people out there that are willing to help you than there are people asking for help. Bottom line ... never say no for the other person, which means don't be afraid to ask for advice and counsel.
If I had to name the single characteristic shared by all the truly successful people I've met over a lifetime, I'd say it is the ability to create and nurture a network of contacts. Networking is an art form and can be learned by anyone.
People don't care how much you know about them once they realize how much you care about them. Your chances of success increase dramatically if you work on your people skills.
My definition of teamwork is a collection of diverse people who respect each other and are committed to each other's successes. It's amazing what you can accomplish if you don't care who gets the credit.
There are two times in life when you are totally alone—just before you die and just before you make a five-minute speech. If you doubt the concept of eternity, try making a five-minute speech. You have three kinds of vocabulary—reading, writing and speaking. You cannot become a leader without being an outstanding communicator. I believe no one should be allowed to graduate from college without a course in public speaking. Whether you are talking to one person or 1,000, you are selling ideas.
I have never met a successful person who hasn't had to overcome either a little or a lot of adversity in his or her life. Therefore, there are three things in life that you must always remember:
Never give up.
Never give up.
Never give up.
Mackay's Moral: Have a great year and remember the 10 most powerful two-letter words in the English language—If it is to be, it is up to me.