In addition to teaching communication classes at my local community college, I also teach union telecommunication employees from around the country using Blackboard Ultra.
To those of you not up to speed on technology, I’ve just indicated that I fire up my computer and mount my PowerPoint. Participants from around the country log on in real time, and we begin the class. They can see me, and if they opt, I can see them.
In my communication classes at the college, students prepare resumes, do job searches, and engage in mock job interviews. A good number of my college students are already employed – some in fast food and some in health care facilities or major manufacturing companies. Some have a sense of their work plans after college; some don’t. In other words, business is always a hot topic for those already there and those preparing to enter.
Recently, President Trump spoke at the United Nations General Assembly in New York where he touted his success in making America great – especially in the business sector: “In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country. America’s economy is booming like never before.”
He failed to get the reception for which he had hoped as some attendees laughed.
I’ll be the first to admit that I like the way my 401(k) is performing although I have no plans for expensive cars, a fine house, or world-class travel. I’ve done the travel (been out of the country 30-plus times), and as long as my car is reliable, I’m satisfied. My house is modest and that means less space to clean and no worries when toddlers Kohl or Parker pours orange juice on the carpet.
So in preparing to teach my Communication Workers of America, mostly employees of AT&T, to write opinion pieces, I am reading a book entitled “Advice from the Top: 1001 Bits of Business Wisdom from the Great Leaders of the Recent Past” (2018).
The advice comes in carefully parsed tidbits that are easy for today’s busy readers, no complicated essays with references to Greek philosophers or even summaries of American history.
This is a no-nonsense “do this or don’t do that” volume from commentators such as NBA and Olympic basketball coach Larry Brown on positive coaching to Carnival Cruise Lines CEO (2003-2007) Bob Dickinson on grunt work to Cisco Systems CEO (1995-2015) John Chambers on embracing technology.
The advice of these great leaders is diverse – and at times contradictory as disparate voices vociferously proclaim their wisdom.
Since I teach college students – some still in high school and enrolled for dual credit – I was interested in whether their advice for those graduating from high school or college would resonate with my community college students or me:
• Several advise working in a career for which students have great passion. This is ideal, but a career in child care will not pay for rent, groceries, medical care or reliable transportation.
• One suggested choosing a first-class school. This works – if parents are wealthy and are willing to invest in this large expense.
• Another bit of advice was to take a trip to another country for two weeks. And where does the average student get the requisite dollars?
• A part that I find difficult to digest was a comment that in the end, hard work and dedication pay handsome dividends. As one who is aware of states competing for successful businesses/corporations with a long list of incentives, I’d like to see how this resonates with employees whose company merged, went bankrupt, or moved to another state, leaving them jobless.
I’d like to share a few gems of advice that I endorse in their recommendations to graduating high school seniors and college students:
• Learn to communicate effectively with people from all walks of life.
• Follow the higher standard: Is it right?
• Know that how you treat others defines who you are.
• Know your interpersonal characteristics and select a career that matches with you.
• Use your knowledge about technology and culture to your advantage.
In conclusion, Jim Quigley, CEO of Deloitte & Touche Tohmatsu (2007-2012), indicates, “Nearly half of all teens say they would act unethically to get ahead, to make more money, if they knew for sure they would not get caught.” He’s troubled by that as am I, yet we see unethical behaviors played out regularly in politics and business. Are our teens seeing that often the winners are those who break the law, lie and steal?
The American business environment is global, is complex. Each decision on debt, tax cuts, tariffs, energy, crop/steel production and a host of issues has a global impact. We should not as a country be making decisions willy-nilly without thoughtful consideration of the ramifications of our actions. And after all things are considered, we should be making the best decisions based on “Is it right?”
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