Last year, I wrote If I Were 22: I Was Fired From My Own Company. If you haven’t read that piece, I suggest you do.
For this year’s graduating class, I have a suggestion.
You see, when I was 22, the Internet did not exist. Blogging did not exist. Social Media did not exist.
But the class of 2015 has all these tools at their fingertips.
So my suggestion is to use them.
Let me explain how I would use these tools if I were 22 today.
I am a huge fan of opinionated people, being one myself. In the politically correct California style, I am often called judgmental.
My theory is that it is great to be opinionated. It is great to be judgmental. Because, that means you have invested serious intellectual energy to think through an issue, and develop a point of view.
Develop a point of view.
It is very important to think critically about issues that your time presents. About philosophy. About society. About economics. About politics. About life. About your industry.
Now, if you are 22, how do you do that?
Read literature. Read The Economist. Read non-fiction. Read philosophy. Read industry coverage and analysis. Watch films. Listen to TED talks.
And write regularly.
In fact, today, LinkedIn offers a great blogging platform that instantly lets you access an audience. So don’t wait. Start blogging right away. Write, perhaps once a week, a well-thought through 500-750 word post on LinkedIn on a topic of contemporary significance. It could be a book review. A film review. Analysis of an industry event. Commentary on a relevant social issue. It doesn’t matter.
What you are doing is developing a well-thought through point of view and the skill to put it down in a succinct written form. You may have thought about things, but you’d be surprised how much clearer your point of view will become once you write it down.
And this discipline of writing regularly, thoughtfully, on topics of contemporary interest will help you develop an audience, a personal brand, a following.
And as you, native denizens of the social media universe well know, audience gives you influence. It gives you power.
It gives you a platform for your life’s work, whatever that may turn out to be.
It has given me mine.