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CEOs share their best advice for college graduates

Your first few years in the workplace are incredibly important. Here’s what you need to know


My son Chris graduated from college and started his first “real” full-time job last month, working in human resources. It made me think about my first job out of college: editorial assistant in the custom publishing division of a Detroit-area advertising agency. I learned a lot in school, but my first job and bosses taught me even more.

Since experience can be a great teacher, I reached out to CEOs and business leaders to find out what they wish they had known when they started their first jobs.


When Kanuj Malhotra, president of digital student solutions for Barnes & Noble Education, was starting his career, he wishes he had been more willing to take chances and make mistakes.

“In developing a product, fast failures are always better than drawn-out mediocrity,” he says. “Throughout my professional journey, I’ve discovered the importance of embracing the learnings you derive from failure; they allow you to re-evaluate your product and improve in areas you may have previously overlooked. These experiences make you a better leader, manager, and product developer—and a stronger asset to your business.”


Dani Reiss, CEO of Canada Goose, thought you had to be an extrovert to be a great leader.

“When I first started doing speaking opportunities or even just addressing my own company, I felt a lot of pressure to be the kind of motivational speaker that you see a lot in the business industry, and that wasn’t me,” he says. “It wasn’t until a friend told me I was a compelling speaker when I spoke in my style that I understood I would only be effective if I spoke authentically.”

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