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Top 10 Lessons for Graduates

CSULA distinguished alumnus Richard D. Cordova offers words of wisdom to the Class of 2012

By LatinoLA Contributor
Published on LatinoLA: June 26, 2012


Top 10 Lessons for Graduates


Richard D. Cordova -- president and CEO of Children's Hospital Los Angeles - -returned to Cal State L.A., his alma mater to impart lessons he learned in his career to graduates at the University's 65th Commencement.

Lesson No. 1: Engage early. You studied hard, you studied your profession and now it's time to network. It's time to network with your peers, your professional associations. Commit to your career. In this day and age it's not enough just to get the job and wait. You have to make a commitment to your career and demonstrate to your mentors and your supporters that you are committed.

Lesson No. 2: Be a lifelong learner. For some of you graduating today, you're relieved that school is done. I can understand that. But some of you will go on to graduate school and some of you are graduating from graduate school and furthering your education. Congratulations. Whatever path you choose, be committed to learning at every stage of your career, either through additional education, internships or professional associations or societies. Today, I sit on the board of governors of my professional society, the American College of Health Care Executives. It is one of the highest-ranking statuses I could have in my profession. And, I continued to be educated by the college, and I encourage my colleagues in health care to continue their pursuit of education.

Lesson No. 3: Everything is temporary. We're living in a digital age and you're a generation that is very reliant on technology--technology that changes quickly, organizations changing quickly. It's important that you keep pace. Look ahead and anticipate the changes, be ready to embrace them and don't be afraid of it. You should expect change in your professional life.

Lesson No. 4: Reinvent yourself. There may be a time in your career when you have to a step back and evaluate who you are and what you're doing with your career. And, it sometimes calls for a different direction, or what I call reinventing yourself. With this economy, global business, health care reform, everything is causing us to reinvent ourselves.

Lesson No. 5: Be kind to your body. You can't live, work, or learn unless you are healthy. Don't abuse your body like you've done for the last four or five years in college. Maybe your generation is different, but when I was here… I'm not going to go down that road. Physical and mental health breeds success in the workplace. It's so important to stay healthy and fit.

Lesson No. 6: You're only as good as your team. Understand your weaknesses and surround yourself with people who complete you. Embrace your weaknesses and don't be threatened by them. I often say that I'm a mile wide and an inch deep on thousands of issues and an expert on nothing. But that's because I surround myself with people who are a mile deep and an inch wide. These are the experts. They have a knowledge base and an expertise that I don't have. And that's OK. I enjoy watching people succeed.

Lesson No. 7: As you begin to progress in your career, and you become a leader, lead from your heart. Kindness and caring never go out of style. Make decisions in your life based on what is in your heart and what values you hold close. Be transparent on your leadership and reveal yourself to those you lead.

Lesson No. 8: Do the things you fear the most. The saying "if it doesn't kill you, it makes you stronger" is true. Surprise yourself. Take on tasks that you never thought you'd have the ability to do. It will take you to the next level.

Lesson No. 9: Love your children and your family. Many of you will go on to start your own families and you have to balance your professional life with your home life. And if you have children, I hope none of you ever have to experience Children's Hospital Los Angeles, but if you do, we treat kids better. That cost me a lot of thousands of dollars for that one phrase: We treat kids better.

Lesson No. 10: Paint your own picture. As you begin your career, you're probably following the vision of your first supervisor, your mentors and so forth. You're following someone else's vision. But, at some point in your career, you're going to come to the realization that you're going to start connecting the dots and begin to develop your own vision. Be thinking about that picture you want to paint for yourself and be ready to lead around it.

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