The college graduation season is upon us. I’m getting old. I graduated from Penn State on March 25, 1972—that’s 40 years ago! To paraphrase Bob Seeger, “Forty years, where’d they go? Forty years, I don’t know.”

I’m not sure where all of the past 40 years have gone— and they have gone by very quickly. But I’ve spent much of them helping people create career success they deserve. Brett McIlwain, my niece and goddaughter, graduated cum laude from Florida State in 2008. I was proud of her then and I’m proud of her now. She has built a great career working in marketing for a company that makes sports apparel.

I was writing my blog back in 2008. I dedicated a week’s worth of posts to providing Brett and her cohorts with some of my best success advice. Several people told me that they liked the advice in these posts and asked that I publish it as an eBook. I did, but never distributed it widely—until now.

Here is the introduction to the eBook I wrote to provide career advice for my niece as she graduated from college. I call it An Uncle’s Advice to His Niece on Her College Graduation.

Congratulations on your graduation. You’ve worked hard these past four years. You deserve to take a little time to celebrate your college accomplishments, and to take a deep breath before plunging into your new job.

I’ve written some of the things I’ve learned about what it takes to succeed in this world. This is advice I wish I had when I graduated 1972. I hope you find it helpful.

I’ve found that all successful people have five things in common.

  • Successful people are self confident.
  • Successful people create positive personal impact.
  • Successful people are outstanding performers.
  • Successful people are dynamic communicators.
  • Successful people are interpersonally competent.

Self confident people have at least three things in common:

  • They are optimistic.
  • They face their fears and take action.
  • They surround themselves with positive people. People who create positive personal impact have at least three things in common:
  • They develop and constantly promote their personal brand.
  • They are impeccable in their presentation of self.
  • They know and practice the basic rules of etiquette.

Outstanding performers have at least three things in common:

  • They are technically competent and remain so because they are lifelong learners.
  • They set and achieve goals.
  • They are organized and manage their time, stress, and lifestyle well.

Dynamic communicators have at least three things in common:

  • They are excellent conversationalists.
  • They write in a clear, concise, easily readable manner.
  • They are excellent presenters—to groups of 2 or 100.

Interpersonally competent people have at least three things in common:

  • They are self aware. They use their self awareness to increase their understanding of others.
  • They build solid, long-lasting mutually beneficial relationships with the people in their lives.
  • They are able to resolve conflicts with a minimal amount of problems and upset to relationships.

The pages that follow contain my thoughts on each of these characteristics and my best advice on how you can use them to build your career success.

This is a sampling of the ideas in An Uncle’s Advice to His Niece on Her College Graduation. If you would like a copy of the entire eBook, send me an email (, and I’ll send you one. Feel free to pass on your copy to any young people you know who are just beginning their careers.

Start a conversation online at CommonSense_0512, or e-mail your questions on careers, success, life, the universe, and everything to


You May Also Like

PM360 Q&A with Sean Moloney CEO & Co-founder of Dramatic Health

Fifteen years ago, Sean Moloney moved on as the Director of Marketing Innovations Team ...

Inside the GERD Market

A brand can have performance issues—like local access due to plan coverage and patient ...