As a start, I dusted off some notes I’ve been keeping in case I ever got asked to do a commencement address somewhere. I haven’t, but if I were, I always wondered what I would say to a bunch of twenty-somethings who don’t want any advice from someone from a long past era. So I figured I’d go back to those early days describing some advice I got then that I still follow 50 years later.
I remember starting my first job as a systems engineer on an aerospace project. My new boss gave me an unusual assignment on my start day. He wanted me to tell him what E = mC(squared) and “You can’t push on a rope” meant.
As part of figuring out the answer he said to first ask anyone you want in the department for advice or insight. Of course, I thought he just wanted me to meet everyone on my own since I already knew the answer to both questions.
It turned out I was wrong on all parts.
Here’s what I told him when we met for lunch in the cafeteria on the third day of my first job…”
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