Rules for Life and Work

By Ross Wade, Elon School of COMM Career Guy

Over the past three years at Elon University I have had the opportunity to work with a lot of incredible students and alumni, many highly talented with strong experiences via multiple internships, service opportunities and leadership roles. I always think to myself, “What more can I give them? What have I learned through being a professional for more than 10 years that will assist them as they enter the workforce or transition from one job/industry to another?”

Well…I give you my top five rules for life and work. Many of these I learned “the hard way”, but I now know, if followed, these rules will garner you respect, allies and wonderful opportunities.

Rules for Life and Work:

1. Don’t be a jerk. This sounds simple enough right? Be honest and straightforward with others. If you have to deliver a critique or negative feedback, make sure it is coming from a place of wanting to help – not wanting to hurt. BE POSITIVE!  There is nothing worse than a colleague or friend that is always gossiping or talking smack about someone else. People are drawn to positivity and enthusiasm – it works – trust me!

2. Never come with problems, always come with solutions. My first real boss at Centerline Digital told me this, and I’ll never forget it.  It is easy to see what is wrong, it is hard to find a meaningful solution. Be the solution finder.

3. Always hustle. Work hard at gaining your degree, your internship and your job search. Be the first to arrive and the last to leave. If you see an issue or a job that needs to be done, do it without being asked. Be resourceful. If you have a question, try to find the answer yourself first (e.g. Google) before asking someone else.

4. Keep it cool. Many workplaces have less than adequate managers, gossipy co-workers, long hours and frustrating projects. Don’t lose your cool in the heat of the moment…keep it cool and find a solution. It is amazing how much better things seem after a good night’s sleep or a 24 hour cool down. Ever received an email that made you angry and you replied in rage, and then felt horrible and regretted it? Yeah…me too. Keep it cool.

5. Talk like an actor. My acting teacher in college used to always say this…when acting in a scene he could tell when we were trying too hard or not being authentic. No one likes posers or rhyme biters. Speak in your own voice.

I must give props to my dear friend and carpool buddy Nicole, she and I discussed these rules and came up with the “official five” in collaboration during our many miles traveled from the Bull City to Elon….which reminds me…be grateful (maybe this should be rule six?).


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