JBunkoSmallJust in time for graduation season, Johnny Bunko is here to remind you of the 6 essential lessons of any satisfying, productive career:

1. There is no plan.
Make decisions for fundamental, not instrumental, reasons.

2. Think strengths, not weaknesses.
What do you consistently do well? What gives you energy rather than drains it?

3. It’s not about you.
The most successful people improve their own lives by improving others’ lives.

4. Persistence trumps talent.  
There are massive returns to doggedness.

5. Make excellent mistakes.
Commit errors from which the benefits of what you’ve learned exceed the costs of the screw-up.

6. Leave an imprint.  
Recognize that your life isn’t infinite and that you should use your limited time here to do something that matters. 

* * * *

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13 Responses to “The 6 essential lessons of a satisfying, productive career”

  1. Drew Tewell says:


    I read The Adventures of Johnny Bunko a few years ago. Good stuff!


  2. Lynn Marie Caissie says:

    This piece of advice goes remarkably well with Meg Jay’s TED talk: Why 30 is not the new 20. For those of us with children in their 20s or about to enter their 20s, both Dan’s advice and Ms Jay’s is good to hear.

  3. Susan Colby says:

    Excellent commencement material – and good life lessons, as well!

  4. Dan, one of the things I like is the direct points you make and your purpose to make a difference in helping and serving others. #3

  5. Karlita Michele says:

    The 6-Essential lessons remind me of a central theme from the 1960’s text “Beyond Success and Failure”, which is that adults are only truly satisfied with their lives when they are mature–i.e., when they learn to put behind them the childish ways of manipulation, comparison, instant gratification, etc, in order to become self-reliant and self-aware positive contributors to society who are not afraid to take risks and reframe their mistakes. I like it! We need more mature people in the world to model this healthy behavior and decision making.

  6. Dan Erickson says:

    I love this list. I’m a big fan of looking at things outside of traditional boundaries. I think you do that here.

  7. Great truths. Love how Bunko get them each down to a short phrase.

    Life philosophies are too important to us. We don’t want to waste time deciphering something longer than a tweet.

  8. Jennifer Mitsch says:

    Wonderful reminders of what’s important, and it is so simple. Needs to be taught more often to all age groups.

  9. La Nien says:

    My favorite piece of advice is to make excellent mistakes. Too often, I fear making mistakes which tends to keep me from growing beyond what’s comfortable.

  10. Shannon King says:

    I think the “think strengths, not weaknesses” is a simple-yet important piece of advice. I think a lot of times I need to take a step back and realize that much of what I do can be somewhat draining. I need to focus on what inspires and drives me.

  11. Razwana says:

    Number 3 and number 4. It’s all about the selfless persistence, Dan ! Loving that Drew Tewell shared this link with me.

    – Razwana

  12. jhouser says:

    I teach career planning in college. I use this book as a required text. Student response is excellent. The principles and lessons hit the mark. Give the book to any college student you know.