David Carr Gives 10 Pieces of Work & Life Advice to UC Berkeley Graduates

David Carr took seven years to get through college. He didn’t have a Master’s degree or a PhD. Before he made it big writing for The New York Times, he spent time in rehab and on welfare. David Carr didn’t fit the profile of your average commencement speaker.

And yet Carr, who died in the Times newsroom on Thursday nightearned his spot speaking before the 2014 graduating class at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. Known for his insightful reporting on changes in publishing, television and social media, Carr understood the world these young journalists were entering. And when he offered 10 pieces of graduation advice, you know the students took note. You should too:

1.) Someone who is underestimated will be the one who changes the world. It’s not the person everyone expects. It might be you.

2.) “Do what is front of you.” Focus on the small steps ahead of you.

3.) Don’t worry about achieving a master plan, about the plot to take over the world.

4.) Be a worker among workers. It’s more important that you fit in before you stick out.

5.) Follow the “Mom Rule.” Don’t do anything you couldn’t explain or justify to your mom.

6.) Don’t just do what you’re good at. Get outside of your comfort zone. Being a journalist is permission for lifetime learning.

7.) Be present. Don’t worry about documenting the moment with your smartphone. Experience it yourself.

8.) Take responsibility for the good and the bad. Learn to own your failures.

9.) Be honest, and be willing to have the difficult conversation.

10.) Don’t be afraid to be ambitious. It’s not a crime.

He says it’s a listicle that won’t appear on Buzzfeed. But it fits perfectly on OC. David, we’re so sorry to see you go.

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  • Hanoch says:

    Given the abysmal state of the journalism profession these days, it is unfortunate that he did not provide them with the most important piece of advice: to stay faithful to their calling by ruthlessly pursuing and reporting the facts, no matter where they lead, rather than pursuing and reporting those facts that support a particular agenda.

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