Job Advice on an Airplane Flight

Sometimes it's worth the time to chat with the other passenger in your row.

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I don't generally enjoy talking to the people with whom I'm forced to share intimate and recycled airplane air. The problem is that once you start—you're stuck. But yesterday I was in the mood to chat for reasons not altogether clear, perhaps a desire to think of something other than work. So I struck up a conversation with the woman sharing my row.

We began, like most, by discussing our jobs. She has worked a fascinating array of jobs in her career so far—each interesting and socially beneficial, if not overwhelmingly lucrative (by her own admission). She was smart and highly educated, and—despite the turbulence in the air—I mentally recorded her choice bits of wisdom.

Here are a few:

1. College is for training your mind. The goal is to learn to think critically and analytically.

2. Learn what you like at school—but take a statistics class. It's helpful to understand what that pie chart really means.

3. You don't need to have a life plan if each decision you make is a good one. The bigger picture will take care of itself.

4. Know the difference between competition and ambition. Wanting to do something great is different than wanting to be great by comparison.


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