Zeroing In

Dr. Jeff Fairbrother asked me to speak to his Freshman Seminar at the University of Tennessee. The class is titled, “Going from Zero to Hero: How to Get Better at (Almost) Anything.” In his email, Jeff wrote:

The freshman seminar program is intended to provide new students with a small-group learning experience during their initial transition to college. The focus in my section is on learning how people improve their performance in a variety of activities. So, I’m looking for guests who are willing to share their perspectives on the so-called “secrets of success.” I think your experiences in radio, comedy, and writing would be fascinating and I’m sure the students would love to gain some insight into your thoughts on what it takes to be successful. Additionally, I think it would be a great opportunity to share your thoughts on the role of community involvement in a “successful life.”

After I spoke to the class on February 25, Jeff wrote me a nice thank-you letter. He said that my remarks were well received. The students are required to write their reaction to each guest speaker. I asked if I could share any of their comments on my blog. Jeff got permission from several students and sent along their anonymous feedback:

I thought he made an excellent point about how to get A’s in all your classes. He stated that the teacher gives it to you in the form of a syllabus. As long as you follow the syllabus then you will most likely get an A. Another point I liked was his statement about how you cannot be best at something right from the beginning. He followed through saying that hard work will get you from beginner to expert.

I talked a little bit about my own career but mostly about what I learned from my children. They fully grasped the fact that college tests your work ethic, not your intelligence. When I was in college, I was like the fabled hare. My son and daughter learned to “be the tortoise.” They managed their time and avoided procrastination. I used that technique to prepare for the Host with the Most Competition last October.

Over and over again I’ve heard the phrase “don’t procrastinate.” But when I heard Mr. Murphy relate it to the tortoise and hare fable, I light bulb went off in my head; slow and steady wins the race. If I would just use my time wisely and plan ahead for assignments, then I could take my time and do a good job, rather than rushing and not putting forth my best effort.
Mr. Murphy said to just try things. There’s no harm; if anything you’ll figure out what you and do not like. Better to find out now and forget about it when you’re in your 40s, rather than waiting until you’re 40 to figure things out.

I also tried to impress upon the class that extra effort will be noticed by employers when the students have an internship or an entry-level job. In my career, I’ve seen many interns who only do the bare minimum. However a few interns stood out from the crowd and have gone on to successful careers in broadcasting.

The talk about internships and how to be a successful intern stood out for me. The way he was saying that nowadays its not a surprise if even some of the interns even show up much less put forth a great amount of effort. This is something that I will keep in my head in case I ever proceed to take up an internship opportunity and will put forth a greater effort than the other interns and possibly help get a job out of that or even some great contacts that will help me in the near future.
I enjoyed the lesson he shared about how not to do things at the last minute. A message that stood out to me was how he was saying that if you take just a little time out of each day to complete a paper, homework, or etc. it really ends up paying off in the end and is much better than having to write a big paper at the last minute possible. I’m the type of person that always puts the work off until the last minute and after hearing what he was saying I hopefully plan to change my ways a bit and be a little more successful at time management.

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