Life Lessons from Alexander Hamilton


Indulge me. With another academic year and commencement complete and reunion weekend upon us, I can’t help but get sentimental. There’s something about all of the pomp and circumstance that reminds me why we do our work and how fulfilling it is to see students and graduates develop and thrive. Maybe I’m especially reflective because I’m turning 50 on Monday. Special events like birthdays, graduations, and reunions allow us to take stock, set goals and express gratitude. And if I have no wisdom to share from a half century of living, hopefully our celebrated founding father, Alexander Hamilton, will inspire you.

Take stock: where am I in my career? Am I living a balanced life? As Associate Vice President of University Career Services at Bentley University, I truly feel like I am blessed with a dream job that allows me to do my best every day, utilize my talents, and learn and grow. I am also fortunate that at this stage of my life and career, work is well balanced with my amazing family, special friends and health and wellness, and I do not take any of these elements for granted.

Set goals: I had planned to lose 10 pounds before my 50th birthday, but that didn’t happen. Oh well…Instead, I have set other personal and professional goals for my birthday month of June. At work, I have committed to taking on a leadership role/Board position with my industry professional association, NACE, and will engage in the organization’s national conference in Chicago and Board meeting in PA in July. I have also developed a passion for understanding individual talents and strengths and will be participating in an intensive five day Accelerated Coaching Program with Gallup later this month. These commitments may throw my work and life balance off kilter, but I am willing to make this tradeoff to keep challenging myself personally and professionally.

My other goal for my birthday month was to see Hamilton: The Musical. I am infatuated with the story, the music, and the message, and am counting the days until show time. I’ve annoyed my family by obsessively listening to (and singing along to) Lin-Manuel Miranda’s brilliant soundtrack, so I now listen privately during my commute time and think about the genius of Miranda’s lyrics and how they apply to career development. Here are my top 10 lessons on work and life from Hamilton. I promise not to sing them to you (unless by request)!

  1. I am not throwing away my shot!
  2. Talk less, smile more
  3. This is not a moment, it’s a movement
  4. Look into your eyes, and the sky’s the limit
  5. Be satisfied
  6. I’m willing to wait for it
  7. And I could be enough
  8. I know that greatness lies in you
  9. If we lay a strong enough foundation, we’ll pass it on to you, we’ll give the world to you, and you’ll blow us all away…
  10. Look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now

Express gratitude: Thank you to my friends and family and to the entire Bentley community for making this amazing life possible. As I look at back at the last 50 years and look ahead to the next 50, I know the sky’s the limit.

Cheers to the Class of 2016 and to our proud and passionate Bentley graduates who are celebrating reunions this weekend. I hope you will use this time to take stock, set goals, express gratitude, and of course, have fun! And remember that we are always here to help.

By Susan Sandler Brennan
Susan Sandler Brennan Associate Vice President, University Career Services Susan Sandler Brennan