My Advice For Grads

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[The following is a partial transcript of this episode of The Scott Alan Turner Show. Listen to the full episode to hear this story, listener questions, money hacks, and inspiring stories of people that are changing their financial lives. Subscribe to the free podcast on iTunes or Google Play]

In This Episode / Listener Questions

  • Doing work that feels beneath you always pays off in the end.
  • How to save for Christmas gifts this year (Olivia, Kentucky)
  • How to negotiate a medical bill (Emily)
  • What can we cut back on to save money (Riley, Vermont)
  • How much should you pay for a wedding ring
  • How can I save up for my own place after graduating high school (Austin)
  • Should I sell my rental home in another state (Michele, Florida)
  • Are CBD companies a good idea to invest in (Chase, Minnesota)


Doing work that feels beneath you always pays off in the end.

Every commencement season, thousands of graduates are treated to something I call “standard keynote language.” Everyone can recognize these tiny, easily digestible nuggets of wisdom: “Don’t be afraid to take risks,” or “Be courageous.” And the classic: “Follow your passion.”

This is sound, albeit clichéd, advice. What would I recommend? “Mop your way to success.”A mop, used for cleaning floors, isn’t a magical tool for success. Rather, it is a reminder that there should be no task considered beneath you.

When I was a student at Duke, I worked in a retail store. Many of my co-workers were also college students, some in graduate school, and one was on her way to dental school. Many of my colleagues hated mopping, which required going into the haven of filth that was the public bathroom.

I had plenty of practice in this area as a former Marine Corps private, so I always volunteered for the job.My managers noticed. They named me employee of the month and promoted me to management for the holiday rush—a small success at a small store. I learned that a sense of entitlement is a burden.

People who believe themselves above something, or entitled to something more because of past achievements, will find that new opportunities slip away.

When I left my job at a big Fortune 500 company, I went to work at a startup. And I was employee #25 or something. VC Funding, big huge office space, open floor plan.

No desks. The desks were in boxes. So on day #1, I along with several other new hires, were using battery powered screwdrivers to assemble our desks. Not really a good use of my time. And we did our desks, all these other desks. Most of the day was just putting stuff together and setting up computers and monitors.

Probably 3 months later when the company was hiring more people, some professional assembly people were brought in to do the latest batch of desks.

You just do the work.

I would clean the fridge out at work once every couple weeks.

Do the things other people aren’t willing to do, and you will get the things other people will never have.

High schoolers – participate in activities. Fill out 1,000 scholarship applications. Proofread. You’ll get a free education.

College students – Get to know your professors. Learn public speaking. Network. You will get the prime internships.

Graduates – Dress appropriately. Be the first one in and the last one out. Add value. You will get promoted, bonuses, raises, and recognition.

And awards too. I got a bunch of awards when I was in corporate land. And stock options.

Employees – Never stop learning so you’re always ready for the next chapter of life.

Employers – Stay hungry. Never rest on yesterday’s deal. Provide exception customer service.

Parents – Be a parent. Have a spine. Learn the word No.

Everyone – have a plan. Or plan to have a plan. Just know that you need a plan.


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