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Avoid ‘Reply All’ and Other Advice to New Grads

Posted May 20, 2013

By Richard A. Moran

ALT The following is an imaginary commencement address to graduates about to work.

Wear sunscreen.

Those two words were Mary Schmich’s contribution to the ever-growing body of work called Commencement Addresses. We all took her advice. Her words went viral before there was viral and took on mythic stature when everyone believed that Kurt Vonnegut actually wrote it.

Here is my own contribution to the commencement genre. Like all commencement addresses, it will be ignored but I will feel like my three words are out there. Or maybe people will think Bill Gates wrote it and it will go viral.

1. Avoid “Reply All” It is the most dangerous button on your screen. It looks innocent enough, a little envelope with an arrow. Hitting that innocuous looking icon can change the course of a career even at a tender young age. Too often, the “Reply All” sends info to the people you least want to see it.

2. Remember that there is no “Never Mind” icon  I suspect this technology tip comes while many of you are laden with guilt that you don’t know how to code in Ruby on Rails or the latest language. You will always feel guilty about what you are unable to do technically. Get over it and enjoy the wonders of the technology that you do know even if it only the on/off button.

3. Enjoy everything you know how to do right now because in a minute the technology will change and you won’t know how to do anything. And make sure you figure out how to save those photos you’ve been taking on your phone. You will never look this good again.

4. Carry extra power cords. You can never have too many and don’t let others borrow them. You will not get them back.

5. Use the talk function on your cell phone occasionally. The phone has a microphone that can come in handy when talking to Mom and Dad.  They may want more details than a text can provide.

6. Don’t participate in a conference call from a public bathroom stall.

7. Facebook Friends may or may not be real friends. Know the difference and pay attention to real friends. And remember we are all stalked on Facebook.

8. Be gentle with those who work around you. Reheat burritos at work sparingly, they smell up the whole place.

9. Save directions for digital cameras.

10. Never talk about pay or dwell on what early employees at Google or Facebook make. There will always be those who make more and those who make less.  If you love what you do and you get paid for it, consider it a bonus.

11. Assume that all things you do on your computer at work will be monitored and reviewed. Never let your guard down.

12. Co-workers should never see you naked – either digitally or literally.

13. Know what goes into a performance review and keep track of what you do during the year. No one else will keep track.

14. Eat only so much late night pizza or Chinese food in the office late at night. The food will give you nightmares and add pounds. Hang around the gluten-free crowd every once in a while.

15. Never go to more than two meetings a day.

16. Play hooky. When your team wins, when your spouse is available for a special day, when things are slow, when you really need a day to regroup, call in sick. Check your email while you are out.

17. Create a “Personal Board of Directors”. Since mentors are so difficult to find, make up your own board and imagine what advice they would give. My board is composed of three people who are no longer walking the earth.

18. Treat every job as if you will be there for a long time, even if you know you won’t be. If you are seen as a short-timer, no one will invest in making friends with you.

19. Where you work is like selecting a college. It’s not the best place that accepts you; it’s about the best match.

20. Of course all the other advice about enjoying the ride, and doing what you love applies, but you will hear that from many others.

So as you begin your career graduates, remember to stay away from that “Reply All” icon.  It can be dangerous. And, don’t forget the sunscreen. Trust me on both.

Check out our New Grad Career Guide


ALTRichard A. Moran, CEO of Accretive Solutions, is a San Francisco-based venture capitalist, social scientist, best selling author and evangelist for organization effectiveness. He is best known for his series of humorous business books beginning with bestselling, Never Confuse a Memo with Reality and is credited with starting the genre of "Business Bullet Books."

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