Advice to young people: very real urban legends

More than ten years ago the following 11 “rules” were circulating widely on the internet, attributed to Bill Gates.  Since then, it was found out that Bill Gates never said or wrote them and that the various versions – that he’d said them in a speech, or in an article – were urban legends.

They were intended, apparently, to address “how feel-good, politically correct teaching has created a full generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept set them up for failure in the real world.”

Sadly, I can see little change in the attitudes of young people graduating from high schools and colleges today, over a decade later. So many thanks to whoever did write or say these rules, as I share them with you now. And apart from a few points that are out of date, like car phones, old-fashioned broadcast TV and “Friends” (Rule 10) … why has so little moved on since then?

Life is not fair – get used to it.

The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

You will NOT make 40 thousand dollars a year right out of high school. You won’t be a vice president with a car phone, until you earn both.

If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss. He doesn’t have tenure.

Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping; they called it “opportunity.”

If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes; learn from them.

Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you are. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent’s generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time.

Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.

More help – for young business writers:

“Super Speeches”…how to write and deliver them well

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them”…over 1,500 spelling and grammar tips to perfect your written English

Why you should never try to outsmart your kids

If you thought children didn’t have a way with words, you’d be wrong – as these kids prove in this funny selection of teacher put downs. Original author unknown. Enjoy!


TEACHER: Maria, go to the map and find North America.

MARIA:   Here it is!

TEACHER: Correct. Now class, who discovered America?

CLASS:  Maria!


TEACHER: Why are you late, Frank?

FRANK:   Because of the sign.

TEACHER: What sign?

FRANK:  The one that says, “School Ahead, Go Slow.”


TEACHER:  John, why are you doing your math multiplication on the floor?

JOHN:  You told me to do it without using tables!


TEACHER:  Glenn, how do you spell “crocodile?”

GLENN:    K-R-O-K-O-D-A-I-L”

TEACHER:  No, that’s wrong

GLENN:    Maybe it s wrong, but you asked me how I spell it!


TEACHER:  Donald, what is the chemical formula for water?


TEACHER:  What are you talking about?

DONALD:   Yesterday you said it’s H to O!


TEACHER: Winnie, name one important thing we have today that we didn’t have ten years ago.



TEACHER: Goss, why do you always get so dirty?

GOSS:  Well, I’m a lot closer to the ground than you are.


TEACHER: Millie, give me a sentence starting with “I.”

MILLIE:  I is…

TEACHER: No, Millie….. Always say, “I am.”

MILLIE:  All right… “I am the ninth letter of the alphabet.”


TEACHER:  Can anybody give an example of COINCIDENCE?

TINO:   Sir, my Mother and Father got married on the same day, same time.”


TEACHER:  George Washington not only chopped down his father’s cherry tree, but also admitted doing it. Now, Louie, do you know why his father didn’t punish him?”

LOUIS:   Because George still had the axe in his hand.


TEACHER:  Now, Simon, tell me frankly, do you say prayers before eating?

SIMON:    No sir, I don’t have to, my Mom is a good cook.


TEACHER:  Clyde, your composition on “My Dog” is exactly the same as your brother’s. Did you copy his?

CLYDE:  No, teacher, it’s the same dog!


TEACHER:  Harold, what do you call a person who keeps on talking when people are no longer interested?

HAROLD:   A teacher.

Some more smiles in writing:

“Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them”…over 1,500 spelling and grammar tips to perfect your written English

“English to English: the A to Z of British-American translations”…more than 2,000 business and social terms from the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand

“The English Language Joke book”…hundreds of laughs about this crazy language of ours