By Leah S. Dunaief
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? I recently asked that question of staffers at the news media office, and this is what they answered. I’ve grouped the responses by department, wondering if there was a common thread that ran through their common work. Answer: There wasn’t, at least not one that I could see. You judge.
The Sales Department
“Go to college.” I also asked this person if that advice had changed her life. “Yes, it was a positive thing for my future. College changed my life, with its new ideas — and independence, both socially as well as academically.”
“No matter what, trust that God has a plan for everything. For something good to come out of whatever seems bad now.” Right around then, I started to ask the source of the advice. “My mother,” she explained.
“One day, when I was about 12, my mother and I were disagreeing. ‘You need to remember the world does not revolve around you.’ That thought helped me be a much less self-centered person. I became more aware that what was going on around me was often more important.”
“Never look back or to the future. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow has not yet come. Live for today. That came from my Aunt Doris.”
“If at first you don’t succeed, don’t give up. That came from my mother and was especially true for my dancing. Another is: Always trust your gut. Go with it if something doesn’t feel right.”
The Business Department
“See the humor in things. It’s only just recently that I have begun to see that and be on the positive side of things. That has made me a happier person since I turned 50.” I forgot to ask who told her that.
“Expect the unexpected. That may sound pessimistic but it has made me ready to cope. That advice comes from life’s experiences.”
“Treat others as you want to be treated. That came from my father.”
The Copyediting/Proofing Department
“Have a sense of balance. That’s good because often I don’t have that. When I think about that, it always works out for the best. And that came from my sister.”
“Probably two things. First, never stop learning. At the dinner table, if there was something that came up that I didn’t know, my father would take down the ‘World Encyclopedia’ after dinner and we’d look it up. Be curious, educate yourself. Read about it. Second, be kind and treat other people with respect. Again the source was my father.”
“Learn to cultivate a sense of urgency. I tend to be too laid back. That’s from Dr. Who, the sci-fi character.” [That thought came from the sister, above.]
The Art and Production Department
“Try not to care what other people think. It’s a constant struggle because I am a Libra, a people pleaser. That came from my mother, who oddly enough was always critical.”
“Stop worrying. My husband told me that, and I find I’m not as uptight as I used to be.”
“Having low expectations is a good strategy. Don’t expect too much and you won’t be disappointed. That may sound pessimistic but the message is that things will always be better. The source: Stefan Sagmeister, who wrote a book that included things to be learned.”
The Editorial Department
“Don’t listen to outside people. If you think of something you really believe in, just go for it.”
“This paraphrased quote from Maya Angelou: ‘People will forget what you did, what you said but never how you made them feel.’ My first-grade teacher made me feel mutual respect and that is what I show others.”
“Keep swimming — no matter what’s going on in your life, never give up, keep going. I never gave up on dating [points to engagement ring] or careerwise. From ‘The Road Less Traveled,’ life is difficult and once you realize that, life becomes easier.”
“Always clean stuff from the top down. Don’t do anything over again — from my father.”
“I will quote what a priest told my father when he was diagnosed with cancer. ‘All you can do is be grateful for what you’ve had. Otherwise it’s too difficult.’”
And from my mother: “You don’t have to answer every barking dog.” Not a bad piece of advice for a future newspaper publisher.