Last Words of Advice for College Grads - Message from Gary Burnison, CEO Korn Ferry


While a meaningful career of purpose and passion is the ideal goal, it’s unrealistic to expect that to happen with a first job. Even if you’re lucky enough to have an encouraging boss, great colleagues, and career-building experiences right from the start, you probably won’t start out where you end up. Even if you stay with the same company for your entire career, there will be a gap from your first job to your dream job.

My advice for college graduates comes not only as the CEO of a firm that places professionals in a new role every three minutes, but also as a dad. My daughter wanted to move to another state after she graduated from college and landed a job with a marketing agency there (thanks to a sorority sister contact). After six months, she wanted to move back to California and tapped a broader network of professionals for advice on targeting opportunities. She landed another marketing position, in which she developed digital marketing expertise. Only at this point did she have a real idea of her passion, which was brand strategy. Thanks to an introduction made by her second employer (yes, that really happens sometimes), she landed a position she truly loves and is passionate about--her third job in four years.

Moral of the story: Don't think you can see the finish line from here. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Shortening your time horizon to between 12 and 18 months for your first job accomplishes three key things.

You can’t start at the destination.

Finding your passion and purpose is a journey. In the beginning, when pay probably takes precedence over passion (those college loans are coming due), your priority is to find a decent job. But don’t expect it to be perfect. Learn all you can (especially about yourself), gain some experience, find out what you like and dislike, and move to the next opportunity (it’s easier to get a job when you have a job). Consider this: millennials are changing jobs four times in the first decade after graduation. Some initial job hopping is acceptable–and even expected.

You don’t know what you don’t know—so don’t think that you do.

Graduates might think a job is perfect or a particular field is their real calling. They’re sure that this is what they’re meant to do! But how can you know when you haven’t tried something before? And face it, when you’re just starting out you may not have a real sense of purpose. Engage in the discovery process to find out what makes you happy, which could take a few years. Don’t expect to know everything—you’re still learning.

It’s supposed to be ambiguous.

College academics build on a process: economics 101 to economics 201, algebra to calculus, and so forth. Life doesn’t follow that same track. Most people try out a few different roles early in their careers; they start off in sales, but discover they really like marketing. That can make an early career path seem ambiguous. There is an added benefit: learning how to deal with such ambiguity. In fact, having a tolerance for ambiguity (finding a way forward when things are unclear) is considered a career-building skill. So, what might look like career zig-zagging can work to your benefit if you are adaptable and have an open mind.

Be realistic! Along the way, and especially at the beginning, there will be jobs that you like more than others and some that might be disappointing (you’re not doing anything remotely close to what you had imagined). Such is the nature of a first job, which might be the price of entry to a great employer where you can spend your career.

Any job is a good job if:

- Your boss is not a jerk.
- The culture fits your personality.
- You wake up ready to go in the morning (preferably without the alarm clock or at least without hitting “snooze” twice in a row).
- You are learning.

The last point is the most important. The only way to bridge the gap from your first job to your dream job is by learning all you can about a particular industry, company, and role—and especially about yourself.

BBA Memphis member juggles books and business


The entrepreneur and book author discusses challenging topics in his second publishing endeavor.

BBA member Tony Jackson has released a new book titled "The Fair Shot That Was Never Given." It’s a collection of stories that touch on a few hot subjects we deal with today — from self love to how life can change in an instant. One of his favorite chapters speaks in detail about stereotypes.

Every story in the book leads back to a person not getting their fair shot when it came to their situation, but ending up creating their own path in life or getting their shot in the end. The overall message is: It wasn’t GIVEN, it was EARNED. These are all based on true stories and will make you feel good reading each outcome.

His first book, “Pulling Customers Back To Small Business,” reached much success, and he’s looking forward to inspiring his readership once again. "The Fair Shot That Was Never Given” can be purchased from Jackson directly and at, Barnes and Noble, and other online book outlets. He also plans to have the book for sale in local brick and mortar stores.

Jackson will celebrate the book launch at a signing party on Saturday, February 9 at The Crescent Club from 6pm – 8pm. Light refreshments will be provided. RSVP TO ATTEND

Skyn Boudoir: A Black and woman-owned product of protection

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It can happen in the blink of an eye. Leaving your drink open for even the slightest moment, no matter if it’s the club or your friendly neighborhood bar, is long enough for someone with ill intentions to spike it.

This scenario is all too familiar to Rayna Rufus, who created Skyn Boudoir to offer stylish and functional glassware covers to prevent incidents like these from happening and empowering others to protect themselves in public settings. Rufus is one of the newest members of the Black Business Association of Memphis, and she represents a sector of impassioned black proprietors on a mission to serve through her business.

“The rape drug is a very criminal act. It’s severe. The repercussions behind it impacts our lives. This is a very important tool for me,” said Rufus as she talked about her protective coverings’ role in preventing spiking from happening. “And Skyn Boudoir itself came from a place of privacy, from a quiet place. The word Skyn means ‘a covering’ or ‘nurturing’. So Skyn refers to this glass skin.”

Protection and empowerment are huge motivators for Rufus, who is on a quest to make her coverings available to groups most at risk of drink spiking: college students on campuses, nightclub patrons and a growing number of people who may not think drink spiking can actually happen to them. The statistics have shown it certainly can, but Skyn Boudoir is one of a number of businesses oriented in helping to fight this widespread problem.

The fashionable and functional coverings Skyn Boudoir has to offer come in a variety of styles and sizes: from your typical wine or martini glass to tumblers and even beer mugs!

Visit Skyn Boudoir at to see all that Rayna Rufus has to offer, and as always, use this as an opportunity to support another great black-owned business on a mission to protect and empower others!


President's Message: Getting what you need in the new year

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In 2019..

..get past “just enough,” and strive for “growth” in the new year

So many times I have witnessed businesspersons borrow far too little money to be successful.  Often, they borrow just enough to get their doors open. They do not give any consideration to advertising and promotions, working capital and such matters, which are foundational to sustaining the business model for the first many months.  Subsequently, they fail and wonder why.

If you only borrow enough to open your doors and have no plan to develop the "Cash flow" necessary to sustain monthly operations, you are pretty much doomed.  These matters are addressed through a "Sit Down," with professionals like Mark Yates and me.  We will provide an extensive, "Opportunity/Needs Analysis" of/for your business and only ask questions to help you determine exactly how much you need to adequately fund your business  operation. 

In the absence of meeting with us, please review an article from American Express titled “How to Determine How Much Money You Need When Getting a Business Loan,” which discusses a format for determining how much you'll actually need to adequately fund your business operation.  Wishing you much success.

As always, I’m here to help you WIN!