On February 2nd, I joined a group attending a seminar called The Old School. For four hours we learned about the Ten Old-School Keys to Professional Success, which is about going  back to the professional basics. Skills as simple as connecting with someone face-to-face can be a challenge in today’s society, as we rely so heavily on technology. The screen can be a great thing, but it can also be harmful to our professional futures.  

The “Hard Way” can make life easier

Through this course, attendees were taught how to do things “the hard way,” for example instead of texting to follow up, make a phone call, or  really go old school and write a thank you card. The Old School helps develop skills like, networking, and making the effort to get to know someone. Hence the name, “Old School.” The seminar, which was established by CEO & Founder J.N. Whiddon, helps newcomers to the work force gain wisdom and understanding about being successful professionals.

Whiddon focused on three major concepts throughout the course:

  1. Turning Challenges Into Opportunities..
  2. Building Character..
  3. Lifelong Learning.


These concepts were weaved into one another, and after some role-playing and practice, our confidence grew. Skills touched on included professional must-haves such as: interviewing, time management, decision making, and leaving a lasting impression.

A Word from the Students

"I found the bit about the 'Personal Purpose Statement' most helpful,” said Kristin M., a young Dallas professional. “It elevated the approach to the traditional 'Elevator Pitch' speech that is usually given at professional development seminars.  Jim was very relatable and approachable as a professional coach."

Did you know only 25 percent of college graduates have the writing and thinking skills necessary to do their jobs? Most organizations look for a person who has technical skills plus the ability to express those ideas as well. Those are significant qualities of a leader. In today’s pool of applicants, there is a short supply of qualified ones with a very high demand.

"As a writer, I feel pretty skilled in explaining myself professionally on in writing, but when it comes to speaking in person or in an interview, I feel like I am less practiced,” said Haley R., a PR staff writer. “ In The Old School seminar, I learned the importance of face-to-face interaction and the significance of genuine conversation as a crucial aspect to the interview and networking process.”

The Old School is Universal

The Old School is for more people than you think. From high school, college, and graduate students to young professionals and mentors, anyone can benefit from The Old School.

“In today’s class, I got stuck in traffic and was late,” said recent college graduate Rachel H. “When Jim told me to write down my schedule on a piece of paper the night before in order to mentally prepare myself for the next day, I knew that would help my time management skills.”

Technology: the good and the bad

Throughout the four hour course, Whiddon kept referring to our phones as “electronic rectangles” and talked about how much we rely on them. In a blog post by Whiddon, he notes that technology has changed our lives forever and it’s not going away. Texting is easy and efficient, but fails to connect emotionally in any way.

“In the age of technology, with email and text messages, I particularly enjoyed the section of the seminar that focused on the importance of hand written letters,” said social media director Erica C. “Not just used for interview follow-ups, but also for day-to-day use, they are a great way to make a memorable impression and stand out in my career.”

Old School Take Away

Overall, the course was definitely worthwhile, and we left with many things. On top of the physical items we took away, like a coin with the words “opportunity” engraved on one side and “challenge” on the other, we all left with basic principles that will help us in our path to professional success. The Old School provided us with valuable concepts with which to approach interviews, activities/homework we can do to improve ourselves (like daily reading), and habits that will benefit our careers going forward. Thank you J.N. Whiddon for your wisdom and unbelieveable course!