In Others’ Words: 3 Steps to Success for Graduates

It’s that time of year: from kindergarten to college, kids are graduating. 

And, as every graduating class must, students are sitting through speeches where chosen classmates or invited speakers share wisdom with them. Some of these speeches are culled for sound bites — words of wisdom that end up on quote boards for years to come. Like today’s quote by author Nora Ephron, found on a “Top 20 Quotes to Inspire Graduates” list:

“If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.” 

Put succinctly, to succeed, graduates should:

  •  go after what they want
  • ask
  • and step forward.


I already know what I would tell graduates, given the chance. It’s what I wish someone had told me when I was in high school. What I wish I’d thought about while I was in college:

The choices you make now affect you a year from now. Five years from now. And some choices affect you for the rest of your life.

If you realize that one thing — choices change you — well then … everything else falls into place. Not perfectly, no. Because life is never, ever perfect. But some decisions are a whole lot easier.

In Your Words: What would you tell the graduating class of 2015? Pick kindergartners, if you want to. Or middle schoolers. Or high schoolers. Or college graduates. What wisdom has life taught you that you’d share with us — with them — today?

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  1. May 27, 2015, 6:06 am   /  Reply

    I’d quote Jewel.

    Only kindness matters.

    • May 27, 2015, 10:46 am   /  Reply

      Agreed, Andrew. Kindness is never forgotten.

  2. May 27, 2015, 6:35 am   /  Reply

    Great post, Beth. And your thoughts about choices? Spot on. I think I’d share about how life rarely goes the way we expect. When it take a U-turn, or obstacles try to stop us from attaining our goals, we have to choose if we’re going to let those obstacles stop us, or if we’re going to find a way around them to meet our goals, to attain our dreams. Don’t expect life to be easy. It’s not.

    I know. I’m so uplifting. I’ll probably never be asked to speak at a graduation. 🙂

    • May 27, 2015, 10:46 am   /  Reply

      Jeanne: All important truths — and I think you would share them in uplifting ways. 🙂

  3. May 27, 2015, 10:23 am   /  Reply

    Oh, Beth, you probably wouldn’t have listened. 🙂 I don’t know how many students I told those very words to, and only hope some of them listened. But I’m sure I was told them and didn’t. Guess we all have to make our own mistakes. 🙂

    But if I had the opportunity, I would tell them again, that what you do today and the choice you make will follow
    you for the rest of your life.

    • May 27, 2015, 10:47 am   /  Reply

      Maybe I would for some things … and maybe I wouldn’t for some.
      Choices are tricky things.

  4. susan
    May 27, 2015, 12:36 pm   /  Reply

    I’m totally, completely, fully in love with today’s quote, Beth. Thanks for sharing it!

  5. Gail Hollingsworth
    May 27, 2015, 6:05 pm   /  Reply

    This is totally unrelated but I was wondering Beth if you had heard the news that the store mentioned in Can’t Buy Me Love was closing down? The one mentioned where Tom Hanks played the “foot piano” in Big.
    I thought it was interesting to know.
    Seeing the Twin Towers whole in movies and TV shows after they fell gave me goosebumps. That may happen now whenever I read your book again.

    • May 27, 2015, 8:16 pm   /  Reply

      I did hear about the FAO Schwartz in Manhattan closing, Gail. I was so surprised. I read that they are trying to find a locatin in NYC with less rent.

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