This May hundreds of University of Alaska Fairbanks degree-seeking students will walk out to their mailboxes and receive recognition for their scholastic efforts over the last several years. For those, who like me, graduate in the 10% of the class which makes the top 90% look really good, I have important news for you. Study after study, survey after survey, reveal that long-term career success is 60-90% a function of the attitude we bring to work each and every second of each and every day.

When I graduated from UAF, (on the 12-year plan), my dad sat me down and passed on the best advice I’ve ever had. He said, “Work harder than you’re paid to work” and “have a positive attitude even when you don’t feel like it.” I asked “how I can have a good attitude if I didn’t feel like it? He pulled out the paddle and said that attitude isn’t a feeling it’s a decision, and that decision made each second of each day would make me, or break me.

So, to the next generation of UAF graduates, the local business sector awaits you. Here are some proven techniques to have a positive attitude, especially when you don’t … First, “fake it, till you make it,” whistle or hum the 59th Street Bridge Song (yes, I do remember the '60s). Tell yourself you feel great and pretty soon — you will! For readers who would never lie even to themselves, recognize that you aren’t lying; you’re only telling yourself the truth in advance.

When you feel your attitude slipping, dash into the library, lock the stall, sit on the throne, and read your personal vision statement and goals. Only 3% of Harvard Business School’s 1955 graduates had written goals for their future, but 20 years later that 3% had over 90% of the class’s net wealth. If you haven’t got a personal vision statement and goals for your future, then today would be a good day to sit in the park and start writing. Keep that paper with you always.

Sometimes, like now during the coronavirus, life kicks us so hard that the techniques above don’t help. If you wake up feeling like predigested snail dung, put on your “Superman” suit. Should you not have a power suit that makes you feel good, then a red S somewhere on your underwear will work just as well. Really!

Also, you can get an extra boost if you fold a fresh $100 bill and keep it in your pocket. When you need to, reach in your pocket and feel it. Feeling cash in your pocket is a good thing.

Remember that where you are in life today is a function of your actions yesterday. How far you go in the future is a function of your actions today. Our actions are governed by our words and our words by our thoughts. Therefore, be very careful what you put in the computer that sits on top of your neck. I suggest you read “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie at least once each year.

Alaska business leaders will pay and promote those of you who display a great attitude and work ethic every second you are on the clock. From your former professor, on behalf of your Chamber of Commerce, this is the most important advice we can pass on to you as you graduate into a challenging world.

Charlie Dexter is a professor of applied business emeritus at the UAF Community and Technical College. He can be reached at This column is brought to you as a public service by the UAF Department of Applied Business.