At the core of the Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO)'s mission is an enduring commitment to helping entrepreneurs at every stage learn and grow to new levels of leadership. It's graduation season, a time to impart wisdom to the next generation of young adults entering the workforce. We asked EO members to share experiences and specific life lessons that will benefit this year's graduates as they commence their paths to success. Here's what they said.
Rishi Khanna, EO Dallas, Founder and CEO, ISHIR
"During my education, I believed that university prepares you for your career. After graduating, I realized it's quite the opposite. Education imparts the method for learning--but true knowledge, skill building, and learning happens only after you are unleashed on the world. That was my biggest life lesson. So: Ask lots of questions, observe others, learn from mistakes, ask for experience share, fail forward, and make a commitment to learn and grow continuously."
"My advice might be contrary to other things a graduate would hear, such as keeping your Instagram fresh and updating your LinkedIn profile. While those are important, I've seen the resurgence and significance of old-fashioned human contact. When I call instead of emailing, customers often say, "Wow. Nobody calls anymore. Nice personal touch!" After a sales call, I send a handwritten thank-you note. Why? It separates me from the competition, shows customers that I care, and makes price less of a deciding factor."
Rowena Crosbie, EO Iowa, Founder and CEO, Tero International
"The beliefs you hold about yourself control your ability to realize your incredible potential. If you grew up thinking you were shy, then you're shy. If you believe that you're naturally overweight, then diets won't work. When you learn to change these beliefs, you can expand your skills and achieve your goals. 'Self-talk' has a powerful impact on our lives--it builds and changes our self-image. Make yours constructive, positive, and uplifting!"
Christian Kohlhof, EO Munich-Germany, Coach, Mentor, and Consultant
"Happiness is a decision. I always thought that hard work leads to success, and success leads to happiness. It doesn't work that way. Hard work leads to burnout, overweight, and unhealthy behaviors. Happiness leads to success. Success is when you reach the goals you set for yourself. Happiness is a decision: Make that decision today!"
Lionel Felix, EO Austin, Founder and CEO, Felix Media Solutions
"A can-do attitude carried me further than almost anything else. My go-to answer for anything I didn't know was, 'I don't know, but I will find out.' That gave people confidence that I could admit what I didn't know and was willing to do the work to find out. Intellectual curiosity and a passion for learning are essential to shaping your future."
Jason Ganahl, EO Colorado, Founder, GQue BBQ and The Ice Cream Farm
"Emotional intelligence is incredibly valuable. Focus on understanding other people's hopes and fears, what inspires them, and what it feels like to be them. Life is more about who you know than what you know: Who you know will open up more opportunities than demonstrating what you know."
Robyn Hochglaube, EO Toronto, Founder and Chief Impact Officer, CitizenRad
"Be authentic in all of your interactions--with supervisors, colleagues, and clients. Choose courage over fear when faced with difficult conversations and tough decision making; it's easier said than done, but you will stand out from the crowd and be respected. Know and live by your values--stay true to yourself and your dreams. If you stay authentic to who you are, those around you will be more drawn to helping you, and the opportunities for real network building and valuable connections will be endless."
Jeremiah Adler, EO Los Angeles, Founder and CEO, UP(st)ART Living
"Find someone who has achieved the success to which you aspire, and do whatever it takes to work for them in any capacity whatsoever, even for little or no money. Work harder for them than you thought possible--nights, weekends, and holidays. Never let their call go to voicemail, and respond to text messages immediately. Become their go-to person. Hold yourself radically accountable, never make excuses, and make it your sole mission to drive the organization's success. Once you are essential to the organization, you will be in the position to make measured demands and grow your career."
Megan M. Hottman, EO Colorado, Founder and CEO, Hottman Law Office
"Be fearless: Try bold, daring things, apply for jobs outside of your safe zone, and try roles outside of your comfort zone. Approach problems in totally new and untried ways. This is the era of the problem-solver. As old methods fade away, it's time to try new things, new ways, every day. Life is in fast-forward now. Be a visionary, even if you're the newest employee in the room. Say out loud, 'Have you considered doing it this way?' And then make magic happen."