Bad Girl, Good Business

Route 66 Installment #39: 10 Things I Learned at Age 10 That Can Change Your Work Life

Reading Time: 2 minutes

As you can tell, this back-to-school and lifelong learning theme is a fave.

Frankly, I didn’t enjoy school all that much. Sitting still in a classroom for hours on end was not my jam.

But I’ve always loved to learn new skills, so I adapted to school rules.

Until I was 14 I was the “quiet, chubby, smart, funny, and well-behaved girl” in the class. I was among the tallest too, believe it or not. I didn’t cultivate a fashion sense (or learn to check my undergarments) until later in life.

As a teenager, I became the “quiet, smart, funny, and wanna-be-hippie girl.” I always got good grades and the teachers considered me polite and helpful.

And I figured out how to avoid classrooms by taking “fieldwork” credits whenever possible. I didn’t even have to go to school during the last semester of high school. I worked for a Congressman, took my Regents exams, and got my diploma!

Now we’re adults (at least theoretically).

Here are 10 lessons that apply to both the classroom and the boardroom, based on my many years in both.

  1. Be kind. Befriend that solo kid (or adult at a networking event or conference). They’re probably just shy and awkward.
  2. Be curious. Never stop learning.
  3. Befriend the smart “kids.” They aren’t always the cool ones, but they know stuff.
  4. Raise your hand. If you have questions, wait your turn.
  5. Don’t worry about being popular. Just be respected. And figure out what talents you DO have that others might find useful.
  6. Participate in gym class (aka physical exercise). Even if you can’t get over that horse, you’ll sweat and burn calories, feel better, and maybe even live longer.
  7. Don’t stress over your grade or class rank (or the adult equivalent). Simply embrace education. Try new things at any age. Sign up for “extracurriculars” that feed your soul and imagination.
  8. Seek out help (e.g., the adult version of the guidance counselor or school nurse) if you are having issues.
  9. Pay attention to English and Math. The ability to communicate and manage money are timeless skills.
  10. Practice your poses for school pix (aka Instagram and LinkedIn). For better or worse, people will form an impression based on your look and vibe.

Oh yeah…and Bonus Tip #11:  Get your homework done early, so you have more time to play!

These tips have served me well long after graduation.

What other “lessons” would you add to the list?



  1. You covered the topic completely! 😉
    The only thing I would add is ‘Get up early’!

  2. Great list. I like #3 and 6.

  3. Ah, the wisdom of youth. I love it!

  4. Wish I had seen these, all throughout schooll. Wonderful list.

  5. Going back to basics! My BFF and I always say “Rule #1: Don’t be a jerk.”


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