Annual (unsolicited) advice to graduates

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Congratulations to graduates!

Congratulations to all our high school and Colorado Mountain College graduates. Never has it been more true that life is an adventure, and you are navigating paths that others have not. Regardless of your next steps the following advice might help you succeed in your new endeavors.

  1. Empathy is a superpower
  2. Being liked isn’t always possible
  3. Make your parents proud of how happy you are
  4. Be a voice for love and hope
  5. Disagree without being disagreeable
  6. Put people first
  7. Never stop learning
  8. Relationships matter
  9. It’s okay to make mistakes; it’s what you do next and how you learn from them that really matters
  10. Dream big
  11. Talk about and debate serious issues, but remain cordial when disagreeing
  12. Be engaged in your community
  13. Spend your time and money on experiences
  14. Being truly sustainable requires a focus on social and economic opportunities in addition to an environmental focus
  15. During some of the most testing times, a sense of humor is important
  16. Pick a good boss
  17. Work hard
  18. Be patient
  19. Listen to your head, but trust your gut
  20. Start saving for retirement now and contribute monthly
  21. Work for a company that values your results, not the time spent at your desk
  22. Establish your personal tone in your communications
  23. Being busy is not a badge of honor
  24. Learn to read financial statements (profit & loss and balance sheets)
  25. Use your vacation time
  26. Take your work seriously, but don’t take yourself seriously
  27. Really think about it before using “reply all”
  28. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good
  29. Be thoughtful and deliberate, not impulsive
  30. ______________ probably isn’t the worst (politician, development, thing) in the world (although you can currently make a compelling case for COVID-19)
  31. ______________ probably isn’t the best (politician, development, thing) in the world
  32. Embrace the pause; it allows you to get your emotions under control
  33. Surround yourself with people who bring you up
  34. Read new things to help expand your horizons
  35. Never stop learning
  36. Hope is not a strategy
  37. Emotional intelligence is as important as technical skills
  38. Nothing important really gets accomplished without collaboration and compromise
  39. Being nice is an undervalued skill
  40. Base your self-esteem on how much good you do for other people in the course of a day. Beauty, talent, and even intelligence are things that can be taken away from you. Kindness cannot.

Congratulations and best of luck to all our students in your next endeavor. I have confidence that you’ll do great things.

Chris Romer is president & CEO of Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at