Menu
Cart 0

Tis the season for Succeeding—Graduation Month, 2019

Posted by John T. Reed on

A reader ordered six of my Succeeding books this week. That reminded me that it is a great graduation gift.
.
Young men and women are told that the key to success and happiness is to go to college or a trade school and work hard. Colleges teach subject matter—useful if STEM; mere educated-person signalling if not STEM.
.
There is a lot more to it than that. My book is real world. For one thing, it explains that the adult world is not organized by subject matter like high school or college. The more important organizing categories are self-employment versus commissioned sales versus working for government versus working for profit or non-profit organizations—small organization versus big, one-man company versus partnership or corporation, etc. Subject matter is secondary.
.
Another big problem is young people who set their sights too low. I was lucky to read Norman Vincent Peale and Napoleon Hill as a teenager and thereby learned to aim high and was pleasantly surprised to succeed at a number of sought-after things. If you want to achieve high, try. Shoot for it. I cannot guarantee success for you. But not trying DOES guarantee failure.
.
Throughout my life, I have been surprised again and again by how high I ended up. As a 17-year-old, I wanted to go to West Point in 1964. It had its own prime time TV series about eight years before and a major motion picture, The Long Gray Line, nine years before. I figured about a million boys wanted to go to West Point then. Actually one million was the total number of boys graduating that year. They did not ALL want to go to West Point. But maybe 100,000 to 200,000 would have. But amazingly, on July 1, 1964, I found myself one of 1,000 young men getting sworn in as a cadet at West Point. What happened to the other 99,000 or 199,000? Most who would have liked to go ASSUMED they would not get in and did not apply. Thanks, guys. That probably got me in.
.
Same thing when I applied to grad school: Harvard Business MBA. Unlike West Point, HBS recruits worldwide, not merely nationwide. So I go to take the ATGSB test (now called the GMAT) at Princeton University. A sign directs people whose last names begin with p to r to an auditorium. We say in every other seat so it was half full—a thousand or two thousand B school applicants. And this was only p to r! And it was simultaneously being given all around the world at a zillion universities? And they let you take the test on about four different dates per year! One guy in my auditorium had about thirty freshly sharpened #2 pencils! Another had acoustic earmuffs! I had neither. They were probably all applying to Harvard which was the clear number one business school then. “I’m toast!” I figured.
.
About nine months later, I was at Harvard Business School getting my cases for my first day of the MBA program. What happened to the guy with the pencils and the ear muffs and all the rest? Damned if I know. Probably a bunch figured they would not get it and did not apply to Harvard. As With West Point, I let Harvard make that decision. I did not ASSUME I was not good enough. Bot were very tough schools, and I graduated from each. 
.
Perhaps the main benefit of those two events was I got OUT of my childhood habit of assuming that “Little Old Me” was not good enough.
.
My book is also about my failures. I wanted to be an NFL place kicker. I was not good enough, but I tried.
.
I also wanted to be rich. I did not make as much as I hoped. But my wife and I made more than enough. The amount you need to have more than enough is lower than I thought. People who have not had a lot of money overestimate how much is a needed to be “rich,” how wonderful millions are, or how hard it is to sensibly spend millions.
.
And I wanted to be famous, to be in Marquis Who’s Who, on TV and radio, quoted in national periodicals, to be recognized on the street. So I not only got into Who’s Who, they gave me a lifetime achievement award. I was also in Who’s Who in the World—generally next to Robert Redford. “Reed,” what’d you expect? I was on Larry King Live, Good Morning America, and 60 Minutes, spoke in the SuperDome as a keynote speaker at the National Apartment Association, made speeches all over the US and got quoted in almost every major periodical and even some international ones. Money magazine made me a sort of investment guru of the month a couple of times. I have been recognized on the street, in airplanes, in restaurants, in the men’s room of the St. Louis airport and the men’s room of a Denny’s near Disneyland.
.
So I did that. But that and a dime...
.
Most important is your spouse and family. The teach little or nothing about that in high school and college. I talk about it a lot in Succeeding.
.
https://www.johntreed.com/products/succeeding
.
There are things about you what you can CHANGE and others that you canNOT CHANGE. You MUST know what they are and adjust your approach to succeeding accordingly.
.
Most college grads compete in what I call the office water cooler medium. Is that the best medium for some? Sure. Is it YOUR best medium? Probably not. You need to make your living in your best medium.
.
There are lots of tricks to succeeding. Redshirting is one. I did not do it, but I had a hell of a time competing with those who did especially at West Point and in the Army. My grandkids are sort of red shirted. My granddaughter’s pre-school and kindergarten classmates are now in third and fourth grade, she is in second. That is because of her 9/2 birthday, not us. But we welcomed it and probably would have done it artificially if the school rules had been different. We’ll see how it goes, but I saw what it did to my classmates in college and grad school and those of my son, Dan.
.
Another is speed reading. People think it is only about speed. It is, but it also gives you a photographic memory of what you read. They had speed reading machines in the West Point library. I used them to study social studies and other reading courses. I read all the required reading and all the suggested reading and asked for more. At West Point, they always put the “approved solution” on the blackboard in another room. Once, I answered a question by writing a text book paragraph verbatim in the test. The approved solution had that same paragraph. I thought I was going to be in trouble, but no one said anything.
.
West Point always sent two cadets to a national college conference at Principia College. The teacher of that course where I put that verbatim paragraph made me one the two cadets that year.

Share this post



← Older Post Newer Post →