Keep it classy, Class of 2014: Droppin' some knowledge, 9 On Your Side style

CINCINNATI - As members of the Class of 2014 cross commencement stages around the Tri-State, a few of your friends at 9 On Your Side wanted to share words of wisdom.

Good luck to all the graduates!

Ken Broo: "Don't listen to anyone's advice"

To the graduates in the class of 2014, here is the best advice I can give you. Don’t listen to anyone’s advice.  Google the famed Australian film director, Baz Luhrmann and see what he calls advice.

Wait, I’ll do it for you:  “Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past.” 

Instead of advice, listen to wisdom. Wisdom can come in many forms from many different people. Find a "priest," a "rabbi," someone who’ll take your phone call at 3 a.m. and listen to your dreams, your problems, your rants.  Make sure you answer theirs, when they call you at 3 a.m. Wisdom can often come from a father, mother, an aunt.  It can also come from a guy on a street corner holding up a sign begging for money. Find wisdom.

Tom Brokaw (if you’re under the age of 18 you may want to Google him too) had it all wrong. 

“The Greatest Generation,” wasn’t the group that lived in the 1940s and 1950s. They were pretty darn good. But the “Greatest Generation” hasn’t come along yet. So why not your generation?

The fact is, for all the good we have in this world, the greatest book has yet to be written, the greatest movie has yet to be filmed. Our species has been walking around for about 3,000 years now and we still don’t have a cure for the common cold, let alone cancer. Be the person that delivers any of that, and you’ll be leaving this place in a lot better shape than you’ve found it.

That’s my advice to you.  But I would now direct you to my first sentence.

Clyde Gray: "Live long and prosper"

Congratulations to the class of 2014. I hope you enjoy this shining moment of accomplishment in your lives and may it be followed by many more.

My graduation happened a few years back, and yet it seems as if it were only yesterday. The life into which you are about to launch passes ever so quickly, so savor every moment.

In fact, I want to encourage you to live life to its fullest. The years ahead of you are full of promise and opportunity. Neither of those will happen for you unless you work to secure them. Work is an unavoidable part of this world. It’s why your parents and the larger community of support around you have worked so hard to provide you with a fine education and with the motivation to take maximum advantage of it. Take the skills we’ve given you and use them to enrich your life and the lives of those around you. Your education must not stop this evening.

Keep learning. Government statistics suggest that those who continue their education past high school expand their earning power: $500,000 for a technical or trade school education; a million dollars over a lifetime from a college education. And in your senior years, the more you develop your brain, the less likely you will battle dementia and other diseases of that type.

Give back to your community. The education you’ve received thus far was the result of someone’s hard toil. In many instances, people you don’t know funded your schooling, provided you parks in which to play, gave you roads over which to safely and efficiently travel. As you further mature, determine that you will do for others what people have done for you. It may be as simple as helping to clean up a park, serving in the military, raking an older neighbor’s leaves or dishing up bowls of soup at a soup kitchen. But do something for someone else. I guarantee you’ll find rich dividends in serving others.

Finally, at the risk of contradicting myself, play. By that, I mean give yourself time to relax, to unplug from electronic devices, to get off the treadmill and to smell the roses. Beautiful sunsets, starry skies, buzzing bees and pounding surf all bring peace and serenity to the soul. That’s why I believe those things exist. Studies show people who take time to develop warm and enduring human relationships live longer, healthier lives.

Whether it be prayer, meditation, exercise or some other self-improving, self-affirming effort, the time you take for yourself is golden.

Again, congratulations. Live long and prosper.

Larry Handley: "Just do what you do and do it great"

Congratulations on your graduation. You should be very proud. You have accomplished so much! But, here's the best part. It's just the beginning of this great adventure called adulthood.
It's filled with highs and lows, successes and failures and, at times, it will be incredibly confusing. The confusion often comes from the numerous voices that are trying – mostly in good faith – to guide you. Unfortunately, these many voices often conflict with each other. Hence, confusion.
My voice is only one and I will make it simple:
Just do what you do and do it great. Figure out your talent. Figure out your passion. Apply them to your vocation. And then,
simply keep doing it to the best of your ability.
I once heard an author giving a 20-minute commencement talk to an arts college. Over and over again he kept saying the same thing:
"Just keep making great art."
"Don't get tangled up in the politics."
"Just keep making great art."
"Resist the urge to compare yourself to others."
"Just keep making great art."
"Ignore the criticism."
"Just keep making great art."
Focus on the uniqueness of you and offer it up as the gift that it is every single day from this point forward. Congratulations Class of 2014!

Brendan Keefe: "If you love what you do, your vocation becomes a vacation"

Every graduation speaker says some version of “follow your dreams,” or “take the path less travelled.” I’m one of the few graduates who actually took that advice.

My dream from the age of 14 was to work in TV news. My parents thought it was a phase. My friends thought I was the nerdy kid who spent all his time in the audio/visual department. I ignored all of them because I LOVED what I was doing. I still do, more than 30 years later. My career has taken me around the world. I can honestly say I haven’t "worked" a day in my life because every day has been an adventure.

I was on assignment in Texas about 15 years ago, when a rancher told me the best piece of advice I’ve ever heard. He had followed it, and was a very happy man.

“Find something you’d gladly do for free, then get someone to pay your for it.”

It’s that simple.The first part is absolutely critical; if you love what you do, your vocation becomes a vacation. That's a chiché, and it sounds trite, but it’s true.

The second part is a bit more tricky, but it’s also important. Money can not be your primary motivation, but you soon will find out there’s no one to pay the rent for you! If you have an authentic passion for what you do, the success and money will come. Just dot forget that your happiness is priceless.

Here’s a sad fact no one shares on graduation day: you are going to spend the vast majority of the waking hours of the rest of your life WORKING.

So, don’t accept a job--or select a certain college major--because someone else thinks that’s what you should do with your life. You must make the choice. Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo. If your chosen career doesn’t exist, invent it. When I graduated, the internet didn’t exist.

Who knew back in 1986 when I was a senior that the whole world would be turned upside down within a decade by an unforeseen technological revolution?

There is something over the horizon we can’t see yet. You can’t prepare for it, because it’s unknown. So let your heart be your compass. Follow your passion. Don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done. Stop worrying about the future and start building it yourself. Imagine, then create. It’s your world now.

Adam Marshall: "Ask yourself, 'Why not me?'"

To the class of 2014, congratulations! You have a lot to be proud of, yet a lot to work toward.
As you enter the life of higher education and/or employment, you’ll quickly realize life can be complicated; however, complicated doesn’t mean bad.
There are no black and white rules to success, because success can mean something different to everyone. So define what success means to you, and go for it!
Some of you will find your definition of success soon, others may struggle time and time again. Never give up, for it’s in those times of struggle that will define the type of person you are.   
Always ask yourself, and apply the question, “Why not me?” For example, someone is going to win this race, why not me?  Someone is going to land that huge job, why not me? Someone is going to do what they love for the rest of their life, why not me?
Success is out there, go get it!

John Matarese: "Make a difference in the world"

Don't step out into the world wondering how much money you can make. Go out wondering what you can do that can make a difference in the world.

I graduated from college a zillion years ago, like many of my generation, wanting to be a TV reporter. Face time, out of town travel, fairly decent money: What was there to not like about it?

The thrill of reporting "live" from the scene of a plane crash, train derailment, or search for a missing someone was something I wanted to do, and badly.

But after about the 200th time having to find and interview a victim's relative, I realized that the thrill was gone. It was becoming more painful than enjoyable to me.

What's more, I realized the stories I enjoyed the most were those that helped people. There was nothing like being able to help someone get justice when the city hit them with a ridiculous tax bill, or help someone else get a refund from a furniture store that sold them a junk couch that fell apart.

Suddenly I found a new calling: Advising hard working folks who were down on their luck, living on fixed income, just out of the hospital will huge medical bills,

or ripped off by a used car lot that took advantage of them.

It's something I love doing, every day. 

And while I am not performing heart surgery or curing disease, there's a true sense of satisfaction in helping resolve someone's consumer issue.

I imagine it's similar to the feeling an arborist gets when they help save a tree, or a public defender gets when he helps someone who cannot afford to hire an attorney.

All small things, but small things that make a difference to someone.

Don't step out into the world wondering how much money you can make. Go out wondering what you can do that can make a difference in the world.

Kathrine Nero: "High school? That's so 2014"

This is the best time of your life!

I can't even write that with a straight face.

Believe me: It's not even close. And isn't that a good thing? How depressing would it be to know that right now, a nervous, sweaty 18-year-old in a funny hat with $150 dollars in the bank is the best it gets?

College will be better.

Young adulthood and living on our own for the first time--even with the requisite ramen noodles and store-brand soft drinks--will be better.

That’s when you’ve got momentum. Slingshot that into your late 20s and early 30s? Then you've got it made.

That should be your goal now: Don't live in the past. Create your own future and try not to talk in cliches like I just did.

High school? That's so 2014.

As good as it might have been, you can do better than that! And you will.

Julie O'Neill: "Be a vessel of hope for those who need it"

I remember putting a lot of thought into my senior quote for the yearbook. I settled on one from the musical, “Carousel.” I was named Julie after the lead character. 

The quote was, “Walk on…walk on…with hope in your heart, and you’ll never walk alone…you’ll never walk alone.”

Hope. Sometimes it seems such a difficult thing to grasp. Since high school I’ve many times lost and found it. All these years later (I won’t say how many) I realize how key it is to coping and persevering. Storms come. It sounds so cliché but it’s just a fact that the sun always comes out again--and really keeping that understanding close at heart helps keep your head above the clouds.

As you read this--if you’re still reading--you may or may not even have a major picked for college. I had four of them, and--yes--switched colleges FOUR TIMES before I figured out what I wanted to do. 

While I’ve had what many would consider a successful career, enjoying such great moments as interviewing Mother Teresa, I still find myself questioning what else I should or could be doing.

What I’ve learned is that what’s brought my life most significance is not what I did, but how I somehow touched individual people, giving them a hand up along the way.

Decades after my graduation from high school, my hope is mostly to be a vessel of hope for those who need it. I hope you will too.

John Popovich: "Be honest. It allows you to sleep at night"

Congratulations. Enjoy the party because now the hard work begins. It's up to you whether it's meaningful and satisfying work. Here's a few simple things that have helped me over the years.

Pursue a career, not a paycheck. Getting up on Monday morning is hard. It's a lot easier if  you're doing something you like.

Listen and learn, from a lot of different people. Don't assume that one person has all the answers. Don't  assume that you have all the answers.

Be honest. It allows you to sleep at night.

Be helpful. We're not here very long, so don't be selfish with your time, talents and efforts.

Be respectful. It's not "old school." A simple kind or encouraging word makes others feel better and it's amazing how good it will make you feel.

Take care of your family. Xavier coach Pete Gillen used to say, "No man on his death bed ever uttered 'I wish I had spent more time at the office.'"

Whatever you do, give it your best shot. There's a lot of satisfaction in doing a job well.

That's my advice, now go out there and change the world. My generation has screwed it up. See if you can fix it.

Chris Riva: "Be who you are and say what you feel" (courtesy of Dr. Seuss)

Throughout my life I have been fascinated by those who take action, achieve and inspire. I have wondered about their determination, motivation and perseverance.

My life as a journalist has been about telling their stories.

What has stuck with me recently is an interview with a 12-year home schooled kid who describes himself as a "life hacker."

Logan LaPlante is often asked by adults what he wants to be when he gets older. A question I am sure many of you have been asked over the last four years. He said this recently said during a TEDx talk.

"I want to be happy." Simple and profound.

Logan added, "Don't stick to the traditional route. Base education on what kids want and need, which is to be happy."

His wisdom and intellect has stuck with me in recent months. He is fearless

in his pursuit of being himself which he knows will lead to happiness.

It reminds me of another quote from a childhood favorite, Dr. Seuss.

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." 

Here's to the class of 2014--along with their families and teachers. You did it!

(Videography by Scott Dailey and Caryl Hefley, 9 On Your Side)

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