A friend of mine, George Phillips of Gallatin, TN, gave a dynamic speech to the 40 top graduates of the local high school. He called it his "Top 10", but "in the interest of time", he shortened it to his Top 8. They're pretty great, so I thought I'd share them here (with his permission):
1. READ A NATIONAL NEWSPAPER.
You have worked hard, focused on your studies to make good grades and to do well on the SAT’s and ACT’s. Some of you, if you were like me, may have been somewhat tunnel- visioned on those goals. And by being here tonight you have shown that you have the ability and the discipline to meet those goals. Now, it is time without losing the focus on getting good grades, to focus on getting ready to be more engaged as an active citizen in the world around you.
Curiosity and knowledge about what is going on around you, in your county and the world, I think are the difference between those who live purposeful lives and those who just pay the bills. Now don’t get me wrong, you’ve got to pay the bills, and you need to remain focused on getting good grades, but if you can, you need to reach you larger potential, and try to impact the world around you.
To do that, you need to know what is going on. Unlike many at college who sleep in until 5 minutes before their first class, get out of bed, go the Star Bucks, have a bite of breakfast, and read a national newspaper, like the New York Times, the Washington Post, or the Wall Street Journal before class. Of course, that may be old fashioned, you can read all of those on-line from your laptop, but read one and try to do it every day.
When, as a junior at Duke, I got the opportunity to be the driver for my Congressman as he traveled across the state preparing to run for Senate, Coach Stephenson’s advice paid off, because as we traveled together across the state, often alone, I was better prepared to engage him on the issues he was dealing with, because I had been reading about them the past three years.
That Congressman was elected to the US Senate and eventually elected the Vice President, and that summer traveling with him across Tennessee was the first step in a journey that eventually led to me being on his Senate campaign, Senate Staff, Presidential Campaigns and being appointed to the Justice Department in DC as a part of Clinton Administration.
Read a national newspaper every day when you can you may learn things that will help you in ways you may not even know.