It's been a long time since I graduated and entered the work force in 1983. And if recent experience has told me anything, things are a heck of a lot harder today. Whatever the cause, I hope you're ready to bring your A game, because you're going to need it.
I've been working professionally for 30 years. I started several companies before venturing into medicine. But at the end of 2011 I left what many would consider a comfortable job as a cardiologist to chase the entrepreneurial dream again. What I've learned along the way isn't taught in many classrooms. But perhaps you'd like to hear it anyway.
First, just because you have a diploma the world doesn't owe you a thing. I have a wall full of diplomas and certifications. They're nice to look at and I'm proud of them, as I'm sure you're proud. But diplomas only pay tribute to what you accomplished then. Your success depends on what you do from here on out. The real world isn't like your first grade soccer team; not everyone gets a medal for showing up. Hopefully in the course of getting that diploma you've learned something about hard work, commitment and following through. If so, now's the time to use it.
Next, many folks seem to think that they're entitled to something, even that the world owes them a living. I felt that way once. I remember saving up all my money to buy a snow blower. I was 12 and had this grandiose plan to corner the market in Centerville, Ohio, or at least on my street. That lasted until the neighbor got a plow and put me out of business. Disappointment happens!
The hard truth is that the only things you're entitled to here are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. If you want a successful career, then it's up to you to create it. You'd also better be willing to work harder than the next guy, because there is a lot of competition out there. And you'd better never slack off, either. The world doesn't tolerate that for long. The moment you stop producing, stop adding value, is the moment you're gone.
Finally, you should know that people will tell you anything. So you'd better get used to it. I've had folks offer me jobs, then renege the next day. I've spent months hammering out deals, only to see them wiped away with the stoke of a pen or because a new face shows up at the table. And, oh boy, do you have to be persistent. They say there is very little traffic on the extra mile. And they're right. Few folks are willing to go there. If you're wanting to succeed, then you'd better be one of those guys.
In starting my businesses, I've sent out thousands of emails, left hundreds of messages, passed out boxes of cards, books and literature, only to come up dry. And I used to take it personally -- very personally, in fact -- but not anymore. Because it happens to everybody -- everybody who's successful, that is. And it's going to happen to you, too. A lot, but only if you put yourself out there. Michael Jordan said it best: "I succeed because I fail." You'd be smart to embrace that.
In the end, as cynical as this article appears, the world is still a very exciting and wonderful place where opportunities abound. There's even some out there for you. But you have to act. Of course, there will be disappointment. You will certainly get many more nos in your life than yeses, but those yeses will carry you forward. And there will be victories: great victories that when laid upon the others will build the foundation of a successful life. Be patient, be tough and be persistent. Rome wasn't built in a day, after all. Your time is coming.
Good luck, Class of 2013. I envy your youth and potential. Now go out there and conquer the world.
Dr. Mark Moronell is president of Health Comm Strategies. He is an author, engineer, physician and entrepreneur and is senior adviser on health care for the telecommunications and IT industries. His first book, "Succeeding in Healthcare Sales," was released in January.