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Posted: August 02, 2012

Dear David: A degree won’t get you a job

...and other stuff I wish I'd known when I was 20

David Sneed

I wrote a letter to my younger self in case the Post Office achieves time travel. They’ve gone into the future (my mail comes two days later than it used to) - but maybe they’ll go the other way, too.

Dear David,

Two decades have whizzed by, and you’re still exhaling.  Here are 21 things to make your life better - but no one has told you yet:

  1. When you travel, only take pictures with people in them.  In 20 years you won’t care about the sunset, but you will want to remember the girl you took to see it.
  2. Your love of AC/DC will wane - skip the tattoo. There is literally no ink you can get today that you’ll still like in 7 years.
  3. A degree won’t get you a job. Knowing how to work will.
  4. Be five minutes early. For everything.
  5. You’ll be smarter tomorrow than you are today. If you can put off a decision until then, do so.
  6. Don’t buy new furniture – especially not on credit. Check out the antiques store.
  7. Everyone wants to sell you something.
  8. Time is the most valuable thing you have.
  9. No matter how you feel right now, it won’t last. Depression and joy are both temporary.
  10. Keep a book of quotations next to your bed and read a few every night.
  11. Someone will make three more Star Wars movies. Don’t go.
  12. The opinion you hold the strongest is probably wrong.
  13. There are no lucky numbers.
  14. If you don’t ask, people don’t tell you. That’s the only way you’ll improve, and the only way to get help.
  15. If you can’t motivate yourself to do sit-ups at home, a gym membership is a waste of money.
  16. Learn the first 10 Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, and what they really mean. And don’t talk without a lawyer, especially if you’re innocent.
  17. It’s important to work in a field you like, but better to like a field that pays well.
  18. Don’t whine about your troubles. Most people don’t care, and the rest are happy you have them.
  19. Learning to smoke “so you’ll fit in if you ever have a job as a professional gambler” is flawed logic.
  20. When someone advertises 21 things, remember: it’s advertising.

David Sneed is the owner of Alpine Fence Company,and the author of" Everyone Has A Boss– The Two Hour Guide to Being the Most Valuable Employee at Any Company." As a Marine, father, employee and boss, David has learned how to help others succeed. He teaches the benefits of a strong work ethic to entry and mid-level employees. Contact him at

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