Posted by: Marty Fahncke | May 10, 2007

Advice for graduates

Recently, I did an email interview with a student in a business class at Fordham University.  The focus of the interview was how technology has changed business in the past few years, and how it will change business in the next few years. 

When I looked at two of the questions asked, I realized there were some pretty interesting predictions and advice in my response, particularly for those just starting out in business. 

Therefore, I’ve copied those two questions and my responses below.  Let’s see how good I am at predicting the future!

“What do I see as the business trends for the next 2-5 years?”

#1  Personal brand management will become absolutely critical.  Future job interviews, promotions, loan decisions, and even your love life will be affected based on what comes up on a search engine about you.  Never before has so much of what a person does and says been recorded, preserved, and accessible to anyone.   Your “brand” will consist of the digital trail you leave behind.  In addition, this trail includes not only what you say, but what others say ABOUT you.  This makes taking care of your customers, co-workers, vendors, and anyone else you come into contact with of vital importance.

#2  User-created content.  People are no longer content to wait for something to exist.  They want to help create it.  I believe more and more businesses in the future will be based on customers creating the products, the distribution channels, the marketing, and the support.  Witness the phenomenal growth of user-created open source software, user-created entertainment on Youtube, and user-created information on Wikis. 

#3  Davids vs. Goliaths.  Never in history has it been as simple and inexpensive for a single person with an idea and a lot of hard work to take down multi-billion dollar companies, or even entire industries.  There is ALWAYS a better, faster, cheaper, more customer-centric way to do anything, in any business.  But the big boys are too slow and bureaucratic to do anything about it. Find what “it” is and exploit it. 

“What skills will be needed to succeed in tomorrow’s business?”

  • Agility – Think on your feet, make fast decisions, and act on those decisions quickly.  Remember progress, not perfection. 
  • Customer-centric attitude – No matter what business you enter, if you can think like your customer, you will be successful.  Very few people do that.
  • Guts – Don’t be afraid to fail.  Very few hugely successful people succeed on their first venture, job, election, etc.  Make failing part of your plan to gain experience, and it won’t hurt so badly when it happens.
  • Remember the Zig Ziglar motto “You can have anything in life you want, if you help enough other people get what they want.”


  1. I’m obviously a huge believer in your statement about Personal Branding. Your goal, when being searched, should be to have the results make you look like you ahve a strong personal brand.

    I dedicate my blog to this idea

  2. […] Coverage – Personal Branding As a result of one of the musings in my post “Advice for Graduates” about personal brand management, I was interviewed by Dan Schawbel of the Personal Branding […]

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