In this delightful commencement speech, Neil Gaiman suggests a simple approach to career success:

‘Do good work, be likeable and deliver on time.’

This is rock solid advice!

Gaiman also explains that his success was not the result of a well thought out career plan:

‘The nearest I had was a list I made, when I was about fifteen, of everything I wanted to do: a children’s book, a comic, a movie, record an audiobook, write an episode of Doctor Who… and so on. I didn’t have a career I just did the next thing on the list’

This is a wise approach to achieving meaningful success, especially in the current uncertain and volatile career environment. Set a general direction, know what matters to you and follow the opportunities as they arise.

My favourite part of the speech is when he encourages one simple response to the inevitable challenges of life:

‘Make good art’

In my view, all work can be art, and good art at that. Serving a cup of coffee can be art. Writing a budget report can be art. Managing a difficult negotiation can be art.

As long as you are willing to bring your whole self to this moment, your work can be good art. As long as you are willing to put in the necessary effort, your work can be good art. As long as you are willing to take risks, your work can be good art.

‘The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.’

Are you willing to approach your work as if you were making good art?

Here is the full speech: