Monday, June 01, 2009

Pomp and Circumstance: 2009 Edition

Based on the number of decorations and balloons, etc. I’ve seen in neighborhood front yards, a lot of kids are graduating either from high school or college.


Congratulations to the Class of 2009!


Chances are good that you’ve been told about the challenging economic times ahead and the uncertain job market, etc. You’re not the first.


My parents lived through the Great Depression of the 1930’s. Compared to that, what we’re experiencing today is a mere blip.


I graduated from high school in 1965 and from college in 1971. The 1960’s were the most turbulent time in our history since the American Civil War. President Kennedy was assassinated, as was his brother, Senator Robert Kennedy. Civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. also fell victim to the sniper’s bullet.


The Vietnam War was tearing the country apart.


Yet, the generations of those times survived and thrived. It’s what Americans do best.


No doubt you’re getting all sorts of advice. I’m going to chime in with some as well based on my own experience running businesses ever since I got out of college.


The world doesn’t owe you a living.

Despite what you’ve been reading, the government doesn’t owe you a living and won’t pay your bills. It doesn’t have the money. Now that you have a degree, it’s time to start your new life. My sense is that your generation will be a truly entrepreneurial one. Maybe you’ll be the ones to figure out how to make money with social networking sites!


Beware of marble floors.

When you show up for a job interview, unless you’re applying at a museum, be wary of marble floors and fancy paintings in the lobby. It means that the business is spending money on things that don’t build the business. Not a good sign.


Save for a rainy day.

I just read about a former news anchor that had been making $250,000 a year when he lost his job due to the downturn in the broadcasting business. Six months later he was borrowing money to make car payments. Don’t let rainy days, Mondays and layoffs get you down.


Beginning with your first paycheck, start your “Rainy Day Fund.” I guarantee you that it will rain sometime during your life. Very likely more than once!


Companies today that will survive tomorrow, like Dell®, Google® and Yahoo! ®, all have plenty of cash reserves, in the tens of billions of dollars. It’s raining, and that cash makes a great umbrella. They don’t need bailouts, nor do they want them. They understand the free enterprise system is a tough one, but since 1776 it’s the system that has worked best.


It works in baseball; it will work for you.

Don’t worry about hitting homeruns when you start your career. Concentrate on singles and doubles and watch out for strikeouts and errors. Focus on the basics and the homeruns will come soon enough.


So good luck to the Class of 2009. I wish you every success. We’re going to need you to help pay the bills that the government is running up today. (So will your kids, by the way.)



John W. Scherer

John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.

You can reach him at