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1820 - Grads, do you have gumption?

You can’t stop what’s coming. – From the movie No Country for Old Men


This is my message for 2018 graduates – your future is coming at you at a terrific speed and there is very little you can do to get ready for it, except get an education and use your education.

There is an old saying that a person needs to lead, follow, or get out of the way.

In your case, you will not be able to get out of the way.

Is it possible that many of the great truths that you graduates have come to take for granted are just not true after all? Let me share three examples:


• First, you were told that loyalty to your boss or your employer was a total waste of time and a relic from your parents and grandparents’ generations.

Not true.

Instead loyalty may be the most important factor going forward in getting and keeping that job that you covet. Do you remember the key component of the state of Wyoming’s official philosophy, called the Code of the West?  To me, the big one is “Ride for the Brand.”


         • Second, here in Wyoming energy is a big, big deal. You were told your entire lives that America would be relying on foreign energy imports forever.  You were taught that our destiny, as a country, is to make Arab Sheiks rich as we continually import their oil.

Not true.

         Today we are a net energy exporting country.  With Wyoming’s wind and solar resources, our vast coal deposits, gigantic natural gas reserves and new oil discoveries, Wyoming is helping the country send out more energy than we are importing.  Amazing.              


         • Third, you were told that manufacturing is dying in America and, no matter what you do, do not get into that dinosaur business.  We expect everything of importance to be built in China.  Surely the experience of Wal Mart and Apple Computer would verify this.

Not true.

         Surprise, the USA manufacturing sector is gigantic.  At $1.8 trillion, if this sector were a country, it would be the 10th largest economy on the planet.

After turning these three truisms onto their heads, it seems like much of what was drilled into you over your brief lifetime of about two decades was not as true as it was told to you.

         So what happened?

         Just when everything has a gloomy but predictable look to it, we find out that many assumed truths in the world really are upside down. What you thought was true is false. What was passé is back in fashion. 

         To a graduate sitting in a hot, crowded auditorium pondering that biggest of all questions: “What is going to happen to me?” well, I want to tell you that these times can be times of opportunity just as easily as they can be times of worry.

         And because of all the above, that is why I write.

         This annual column to high school and college graduates is much like speeches given in person. It just seems like this is an important time to peer into our crystal ball and help you graduates in any way that I can.

         I remember my high school graduation in 1964 back in Iowa.  A future U. S. Senator predicted a long and gloomy Cold War with the Soviet Union (Russia) that could last a millennium.  No one in that room would have believed the USSR would come crashing down a generation later.

         Today your focus is on getting a job.  

         But there are jobs out there, lots of them.

         If you are a mess, then you have a problem.  And probably what I am writing is not for you.

If you are a hard worker with good work habits and ethics, your future is bright. The key word might be “gumption.” If you do not know what it means, look it up.

You grads heading out into the world of new jobs need to be alert to trends in your chosen fields. 

         Employers are looking for good workers.  And they are looking for good people. And most of them want to hire you for a long time. They are looking as hard for you as you are looking for them.  Don’t give up too soon.

         I see a future that is as bright as ever for the young person willing to work hard, make friends and perhaps, most of all, “keep learning” as you grow in your careers.

         Good luck and Godspeed.