In case you haven’t heard, Ashton Kutcher recently wowed the world by appearing super mature, extremely articulate, and in general, a grown-up. During the MTV music awards, he dropped some knowledge on a bunch of screaming teens and the rest of the world went a little nuts, marveling that the same guy who headlined “Dude, where’s my car?” was espousing values that sounded decidedly more Gen X than anyone wearing a sideways trucker hat ought to.
Most of what he said was told to many of us by wise parents, mentors and friends—it’s worth noting that teens, as a group, tend not to listen to this kind of advice…that is unless it’s coming from Mila Kunis’ BF. So what’d he have to say? Read on:
1) Opportunity looks a lot like hard work. While it’s true that he didn’t come up with this bit of wisdom, it sure sounded a lot more convincing coming out of his wry grin than it does making the rounds on Facebook in e-card format. But underneath the cliche, this is as true as it’s ever been. With technology getting more accessible and simpler to use, it can be easy to think that really hard work has no place in this world. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Nose to the grindstone, one foot in front of the other, and head down can make even more impact in a workforce that’s increasingly social, chaotic and automated.
2) Never quit your first job until you have your next job. Ashton (Chris) Kutcher outlined the jobs he’d been working since he was 13 and explained how he would never leave a job until he had another job. He’s the ultimate passive candidate! Seriously though, in today’s economy, this is advice that makes sense for just about everyone but especially entry level job seekers, who can be pretty starry-eyed about their market worth in a shaky economy.
3) I never had a job that I was too good for. This one didn’t go quite as viral as the others but it was MY favorite. As you climb the career ladder it’s easy to forget the jobs that got you there—the bosses who seemed awful at the time but taught you so much; the mandatory tasks that seemed draining but gave your day structure; the scary paycheck-to-paycheck existence that showed you the value of money—these all have importance. With freelancing and contingent work becoming more common these days, most of us will have to go back to our roots, doing menial tasks at startups, working late into the night on a side project. Bottom line? If Ashton Kutcher can sweep up Cheerio dust, you can for SURE finish that spreadsheet.
4) The world is made up of people no smarter than you. The truly inspiring part of Kutcher’s speech was something that no one ever told me; I had to learn it for myself. It’s easy to look at luminaries and think that they know more than you do. There are plenty of people in the business world who will say “That won’t work, we already tried it.” But while it’s important to learn from the experiences of others, it’s also crucial to realize that your ideas and concepts are as valuable as anyone else’s.
5) Don’t live a life, build a life. Creating your own destiny sounds like something a young, beautiful person would say, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. Instead of clocking in and out of a job that doesn’t satisfy with people that don’t appreciate your contributions, more and more job seekers are looking for alternative ways of working. Building a life is a far cry from just living life. When you’re working 40-80 hour work weeks, it can get very easy to forget that.