Grow Your Knowledge

A Twitter listener asks what advice Dave would give to a 25-year-old high school graduate looking for work. Dave says he would start by reading some career books.

QUESTION: A Twitter listener asks what advice Dave would give to a 25-year-old high school graduate looking for work. Dave says he would start by reading some career books, and once he knows what he wants to be, start reading about that career.

ANSWER: I would start reading some books in a couple of different categories. I would start with Dan Miller’s 48 Days to the Work You Love. The thesis of Dan’s book from a career advice standpoint is to find something that you absolutely love doing, you’re passionate about, you’re gifted at, your skills, abilities, value system, attitude—everything aligns with going that direction. It doesn’t mean you’re not going to have bad days, but it does mean your vocation is a vacation. Find out what that is. Sometimes, that takes some quiet time with the television off, some prayer time. Sometimes, that takes some time to look deeply inside yourself and say, “If money and time and education were no barrier and I could do anything I wanted to do, what would I do?” The weird thing is that with some exceptions, almost any answer to that question you can become with enough work. The exceptions would be something like an NFL quarterback; you might not be able to pull that one off. I’m not going to be an NFL quarterback. I’m 50, I’m too short, I’m not athletic enough, I’m probably smart enough, but that’s about the only qualification I’ve got. The point is if that’s the answer to my soul searching, then I didn’t really get a good answer, did I? If you wanted to be an attorney, it may take you a 10-year track of going to law school at night, and you may work a bunch of crummy jobs during that 10 years, but you could become an attorney assuming you’ve got the intellect to pass the bar and do the stuff. You could do that. What is it you want to be?

Once you know what you want to be when you grow up, that’s your second category of books. Start reading books about that. If you’re going to be in business, start reading business books. If you’re going to be in psychology, start reading psychology books. If you’re going to be in the ministry, start reading books on theology. Start reading books. Books are virtually free for the information they give you.

Category number-one is career choice. Category number-two is the chosen field you think you’re going to head toward as far as career advice goes. The third category is read biographies of successful and famous people. They will inspire you. An example would be Pizza Tiger by Tom Monaghan who started Domino’s Pizza. He became a multibillionaire and at one time owned the Detroit Tigers. The story of perseverance is inspiring. I’ve read hundreds of biographies of real people like that over the years. I read the first Donald Trump book, The Art of the Deal, which is the biography before he started doing all of the other books he does. I’m not going to do business exactly the way Mr. Trump does, but that’s not the point of the discussion. Read biographies. Read books in your chosen field once you choose a field. Once you’ve done that, you start equipping yourself to become one of those, then you start laying out a plan for your career. Find out what the steps are to become what you want to be. In about a week of poking around, you can find out what the steps are to become one of those—whatever one of “those” is.

We are so prosperous in this country, you can wander along like Gomer Pyle on Valium with absolutely no clue and make a living in this culture. Those who have deeply rich lives and those who become rich with money doing those deeply rich lives do it with great intentionality 100% of the time. There’s another good book to read, The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. Be intentional. Happen to your life. Don’t let your life happen to you.

If $74 a week is ruining your life, you need to work on your life. Get your income up. College may be the answer. I will tell you that our economy functions on knowledge. About 30 years ago, most people in this country started being paid for what they know rather than what they do. You need to be about the business of being a knower rather than just a doer. If you’re only being paid for what you do instead of what you know, you’re in jeopardy. This is a knowledge-based economy. Continually growing your knowledge, continually overhauling yourself, and asking brilliant questions like this one—that’s the best career advice I can give anybody.