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20 Things I learned in My 20s

Updated: Jul 25, 2023

I was recently asked to give a presentation at my alma mater, Wilkes University. The instructor and a dear friend of mine, Charles Pierce, gave me the freedom to share my story and present on any topic of my choosing. This opportunity was both exciting and nostalgic for me. I knew I would be presenting in the same classroom that I spent countless hours in as an undergraduate student. The same classroom where I was often dreaming about my own 'what's next.

As I reflected on that feeling, the topic of choice came easily to me. What do I know now that I wish I knew back then? So, I started to reflect on the top 5 things that I learned as a young professional. That list of 5 quickly grew to 10 to 15 to 20 and beyond. It was abundantly clear by the sheets of scribbles surrounding me and my desk that I learned A LOT.

Here are the top 20 lessons that made the cut:

1. Look up.

Look up. There are an abundance of opportunities waiting for you. You just have to keep your eyes wide open.

2. You belong in the room.

You were asked to be in the room for a reason. Own it.

3. Be a sponge.

The experience of others is pure gold. Absorb it all.

4. Speak confidently and often about what you know.

Find your niche, develop an expertise, and share it proudly.

5. Admit what you do not know.

This lesson relates to one of my favorite quotes. “If you are the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room." -Confucius

6. Ask questions.

It is easy. Just ask.

7. Actively listen.

People are telling you something for a reason. Really listen.

8. Failure is just an opportunity for growth.

Did you know that trees need wind to stand tall? So do we! View failure as the wind. It will just make your roots stronger.

9. Take up space.

Get big! Be conscious of your nonverbals.

10. Applied knowledge is power.

“Knowledge is not power until it is applied” -Dale Carnegie

Apply what you know. You’ve got this!

11. Stay present.

Don’t ruminate over the past or the future. Just be here.

12. Fill up your own cup first.

If your cup is empty, you have nothing left to give. Prioritize your needs.

13. Show up as your best self.

But first, you have to truly discover who you are. Work on that first. Then show up as the amazing, powerful, YOU.

14. Dress for the job you want.

Or wear a ‘uniform’ that makes you feel the most confident. It matters.

15. Hydrate.

This is just a simple example of self-love. Consciously take the time to fuel your mind, body, and soul. It makes all the difference. You can start by hydrating.

16. Find a trusted mentor.

Or 2, or 3! Develop your own personal advisory board.

17. Exhale.

Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. Try it right now. It helps.

18. Be of service.

Align yourself with a cause that matters to you and be of service. It’s electrifying.

19. Learn something new every day.

You have endless resources at your fingertips. Stay sharp.

20. Celebrate yourself.

This one is my favorite. Take a moment at the end of each day or each week to make a list of your accomplishments. Big or small. YOU did that!


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