Five things I wish somebody taught me in college

On my last trip to India, I got the chance to speak with students of SSN College in Chennai and share my entrepreneurial journey with them. I had an opportunity to speak with the students of mechanical and manufacturing engineering. Decades after graduating from college, I still feel like it would have made a huge difference for my learning curve if I knew then what I know now. Of course, there is no way I would have, because what I learned through experience cannot easily be taught otherwise. I wanted to share my experience with these students, hoping it would help accelerate their careers in the right direction.

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Here are the five things I wish somebody told me when I was in college:

#1 Learn something new everyday and try to apply it

Try to spend some time everyday learning new things. This will help you reach your maximum potential and you will easily and readily adapt to new situations that come your way. Moreover, a broad knowledge of unfamiliar situations feeds innovation by inspiring us to think creatively and providing examples to follow. Learning deepens our character and makes us more inspiring to those around us.

#2 Prioritize, organize, and review

Prioritize what tasks are more important when you start your day and give those tasks more of your time and attention. You can then organize your workday by listing out tasks that need to be accomplished, the projects that need your attention, the problems that need to be solved, and the goals that you would like to achieve in this day. At the end of the day, review what you were able to complete and what is left undone. This will help you make the very best use of your own efforts and those of your team.

#3 Perseverance

Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all. Perseverance is one of the key qualities that you need to reach success. Really, perseverance is a great skill to possess, and it doesn’t require a college education or training of any kind!

#4 Communication is key

Please remember that communication is the key to everything in this world – to maintain your personal relationships, to express your thoughts, to market yourself, to develop professional relationships, to show your confidence, to show your character, to show your values, and also to define who you are. You are what you communicate with others. 

#5 Asking the right question

Our education system and society as a whole puts great emphasis on knowing the right answers. Admission to higher education and our future careers are determined by our GPA, which is again based on knowing the right answers! Navigating the business world for the past few decades and meeting some amazing people has taught me that “asking the right question” is more powerful than knowing the right answers.

As Einstein rightly puts its importance: “If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on it, I would use the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.”

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