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Top 10 Requirements To Succeed in School

Written By: Ken Evoy (CEO, SiteSell) in Ken's Blog | August 20, 2009

Ken’s Blog

My wife and I are off-Anguilla, helping our two daughters get ready for university. Of course, “getting them ready” goes beyond furnishing the apartment, immigration, phones/Internet, registration, safety, etc. It includes getting them ready for success.

This is the first great turning point opportunity in an adult’s life. It’s not the only one, not by far. Many great success stories happened well after a failed university experience.

But it is most definitely the first major opportunity. So I asked my younger daughter Yuki to write her thoughts on the 10 requirements to succeed in school. I liked the outcome so much that I thought it might be useful for you, if you have a child heading off to college.

Here are Yuki’s top 10 (aside from my guidance and feedback, this is all hers)…

1) Adjust

Adapt well to your surroundings.

Every city and country has different customs. It’s crucial to be able to adjust to them.

Every school and class has a different culture.

Your professor can make a great subject boring, and vice-versa.

At any level, you may feel uncomfortable. Learn to deal with it.  0r you will not do as well as you could.

Do not take the mentality of “it’s my way or the highway.” No one cares about your way.

Plans rarely unfold perfectly. Be open and ready for change.

2) Attitude

It’s not complicated: People like positive people.

A positive attitude gets you ahead. A negative attitude pushes you back.

It can be as simple as how you answer when classmates ask you how you are. If you reply with a litany of problems and complaints every day, expect to be avoided.

Nobody wants to be friends with a pessimist, someone who only picks ideas apart with negative comments. Do not be an unrealistic optimist. But do be constructive.

Aggressive people? We all know and avoid people who like to pick fights.

And professors don’t tolerate students who make cheeky comments and think that they own the classroom. They do like challenging questions by students who know their stuff. Come in ready to learn and contribute to class.

We often don’t realize how important a positive attitude is.

3) Balance

Being able to study in a city that is as big and busy as New York City is a life-changing opportunity. It’s up to me to grab it and make the most of it.

And my parents are heavily investing in me. I want to prove to them that I can be the top of my class.

At the same time, New York is the most exciting city. Leaving the nest to study isn’t just about going out to learn about advertising and statistics.

It’s also about learning to handle yourself in an unfamiliar environment. It’s about learning to balance a concert here and a 5,000 word essay there.

One has to prioritize and balance long hours of study with social breaks. Breaks are more than entertainment. The balance in time develops a balanced person with a wider perspective on matters beyond what I study. “All work and no play makes Yuki a dull girl.”

4) Communication

Communication is the art and science of transmitting ideas, of convincing, of connecting. In today’s time pressured world, it is also about doing it “short and sweet.” A single powerful image is worth more than 1,000 words. A viral video is worth more than 1,000,000 images.

5) Drive/Persistence

Starting something is easy. Finishing it with excellence is hard. There will be times when you feel like giving up. Your drive is the one thing that will keep you going.

It pushes you to do the best and be the best. It keeps you going long after others have stopped. Winners find themselves pushing further, when others are in bed.

6) Honesty/Integrity

Are you a slithery snake or a noble lion? It doesn’t matter if you think you have a reputation for honesty. What do your associates think of you?

No one wants to deal with snakes, except other snakes.  Leave them be, in the snake pit. Instead, take the harder road. Honesty often involves decisions that may not be in your best interest at the moment. But in the long run, everyone wants to deal with a loyal, honest lion – a lion courageous enough to be true.

7) Focus

Yeah Yeah Yeahs tour!
Anna Sui sample sale!
Ben and Jerry’s free cone day!
Sunny stroll through the park!
Green market!
Etc.! Etc.! Etc.!

Distractions will come your way. But you have to focus on what needs to get done.

Don’t get distracted from the important things. Stay on course. Stay focused.

8) Network

Build relationships with the best. Figure out who the next Marc Jacobs or Anna Wintour of your class is in the first week. These students may become friends, and if that happens, so much the better.

Even if you don’t mix socially, though, if they view you as a star in your area, and if you know them well enough to “talk fashion business” and gain respect, you are building a network.

We often mistake this as “using” others. It’s not. No one person can do it all. What better place to begin “real networking” (instead of just having friends) than in university?

One day down the road, you will need to “wish upon a star.”

9) Preparation and Organization

This is a no-brainer. Yet most students don’t do it.

Go to class prepared. Read the material the night before.  The lecture will teach you that much more and you’ll be able to ask sharp questions. Good questions gets the attention of your professors. And that, too, is part of networking.

Another example: Start essays the day they are given, not the night before (after you watch an episode of Grey’s Anatomy).

Prepare ahead to get ahead.

Preparation is one example of being organized. Many people in the fashion business are famously disorganized, as if they are afraid that organization will stifle creativity (ahem, Betsey Johnson!). But that’s foolish.

If you have a plan and its details are all nailed down, if your day is well planned, your uncluttered mind is free to receive creative new ideas.

10) Curiosity and Passion

Remember the old adage, “curiosity killed the cat”? It’s true that too much curiosity results in a loss of focus. But focused curiosity leads to big ideas.

Curiosity is easy when combined with passion.  I have learned so much about fashion because I love it. So I follow lots of blogs and magazines. They may be blogs by designers, by models, by companies. As soon as any new design comes out, I know about it.

I know about the “classics” designs and designers, and the cutting-edge unknowns. When you are constantly curious, feeding your brain beyond what you learn in class, it is only a matter of time before you build upon that foundation in a number of possible ways.

The world changes faster and faster. A lack of curiosity means the same old mindset. Remember the Libertines’ side-band called Yeti? Their debut single was called “Never lose your sense of wonder.”

Well, don’t.

Thank you, Yuki, for letting me share your advice. (It took a lot of convincing to allow me to share it!) As I re-read your words, the title of this blog could easily be extended to “Top 10 Requirements to Succeed in Business and Life.”

I limited Yuki to 10. Feel free to add your own #11 or more!

All the best,

Ken Evoy (CEO, SiteSell)
Ken Evoy is the Founder, CEO, and Chairman of the Board of SiteSell Inc. He is the creator of SBI!, SiteSell's comprehensive Web business-building system. Ken is also a successful inventor, author, and emergency physician. He feels strongly that solopreneurs can be empowered by leveraging their income building potential online.
Ken Evoy (CEO, SiteSell)

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