Paul Butler: The graduate

Paul Butler

This week our son, Henry, started his first full-time job for a global media company in their finance team. We’re very proud of him because within just seven days of graduating from university, he received and accepted this wonderful offer.

As Henry transitions into this new stage of life, my wife and I ask ourselves if we’ve taught him everything we can — to help him in the workplace as much as we can. 

We put this list together, and we hope it will not only help Henry but also be of assistance to other recent graduates about to embark on the world of work. It may even be a useful reminder for those who’ve been working for some time and have never learned these principles.

1. Be early — Woody Allen famously said: “90% of success is showing up,” and we’d like to add one word to Woody’s wisdom: “… early.”  Being on time, preferably early, is a great way of showing respect to others in this crazy busy world.

2. Dress well — today’s workplace is more casual than when we first started work but you can still show your personal brand by what you wear and how you wear it. It doesn’t have to be expensive — being neat and clean are inexpensive and timeless.

3. Respect everyone — don’t just honor your supervisor but rather respect everyone regardless of their job title. You never know — one day you may be working for the person who presently works alongside you or below you. Regardless of authority, every person deserves eye contact and common civility, which is uncommonly practiced. Never look down on others.

4. Work hard — the only time “success” comes before “work” is in the dictionary. Build a reputation of being a hard worker. Be a finisher. Always keep your commitments and may your word always be your bond.

5. Never gossip — resist the innate tendency to gossip about others and don’t think for one minute you’re building a relationship with someone by allowing them to gossip to you about a colleague. Gossip is a poison some people drink in their efforts to scramble up the corporate ladder. Don’t drink it.

6. Keep learning — welcome all opportunities to develop your skills. Change is the only constant in today’s working world — don’t think tomorrow will be the same as today as technology and reorganizations may change the way we did it yesterday.

7. Be loyal — your employer is investing in you and expects a return on their investment.  Recruiters who want to woo you away for a few extra dollars may contact you to encourage you to ditch your present employer. Loyalty is a rare commodity in today’s self-centered workplace but that doesn’t mean you have to play by the same unscrupulous rules.

8. Rest well, eat well — ensure you get enough sleep and take at least one day of rest each week. You’re a human being and not a human doing — you’re not a machine. Make sure you get enough sleep and eat good food — these are the seeds that can harvest a good day’s work.

9. Don’t work just for money — some of the unhappiest people we’ve met have been some of the wealthiest but, sadly, they are very poor in many other ways. If you work well with others and serve customers superbly, you’ll always have enough income. We are great believers in the “velocity of money”— it’s not so much about how much you have but what you do with it.  Our advice would be: tithe some, save some, gift some and spend some. Don’t worship money.

10. Be grateful — never forget who you are, whose you are and where you are. Many people dream to live in the United States and would do anything to be here and to have the opportunity you have, let alone be loved as much as you are. Most people at work love to work with people who exhibit gratefulness.

Oh, just one more thing, Henry — just continue to be a good person. Some people will scratch, claw and devour others in the “rat race” of work. The trouble is, even if that person wins the rat race, they are still a rat! 

Don’t become a rat.

Paul Butler is a Santa Clarita resident and a client partner with Newleaf Training and Development of Valencia ( The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Signal newspaper. For questions or comments, email Butler at [email protected]

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