What I’ve Learned

By Craig Ruppert, CEO

As we enter into a time of year marked by graduations, internships, and rites of passage—like starting a first job or a new business endeavor—I thought it might be a good time to share a few things that I’ve learned over the years. Most of these lessons I’ve learned the hard way—getting it wrong and having to deal with the consequences—and some have come to me by watching others that I respected and trying to imitate them. In either case, there are a few things that typically come to mind when someone asks me, what advice would you give to a young professional?

Work hard is the first thing I always think. People often laugh when I say, “we’re not just looking for the A and B students at Ruppert—we’re looking for the C students who have a strong work ethic and can hustle.” That example comes to mind because I was the C student in many cases. I excelled in some areas, but not in others. I didn’t always apply myself if it was not my favorite subject or one I didn’t have a particular interest in. But I always enjoyed working hard—and what I lacked in knowledge, I tried to make up for in effort. (PS—we still have plenty of room for the A and B students here at Ruppert!)

Be responsible with your money. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was from my father-in-law who said “keep your wants simple,” and this implied to me that this would make life easier. That always stuck with me and was a good reminder of how important it is to be both personally and financially conservative. I am from a family of eight, so I learned early on to watch the pennies, live within your means, and pay as you go so you don’t get into debt. While it may seem important to purchase the sports car you’ve had your eye on or upgrade to the newest iPhone, learning to make do with “good enough” is really an important life lesson.

Stay humble. Over the years, I’ve been lucky to have been around some very successful people from many different industries. The common denominator of the people that I admired was a sense of humility. They were the ones who were down to earth and didn’t feel the need to emphasize their own accomplishments, but instead let their actions speak for their ideals. I’ve tried to emulate those qualities and challenge myself on a daily basis to talk less and listen more, accept setbacks and challenges with grace, and try to put others first. I’m certainly not saying that I’m always successful at this, but these are some of the things I try to remember in every meeting and with every conversation.

All in all, I’ve been pretty fortunate in life—most of all, to have been surrounded by a team of talented people who I’ve learned from and who have played a major role in our success. There are many ways to get to where you want to be in life, but I’ve found that if you do your best to surround yourself with good people, stay open to life’s lessons and keep learning from both the good and the bad, you can find greater happiness and fulfillment.