Image by Pawel Chu via Unsplash
Image by Pawel Chu via Unsplash

3 Things to Bring With You Into the First Day of a New Job.

Especially if you’re a middle-aged white guy

Gray Miller
4 min readJan 18, 2022


I heard about an interim Executive Director about my age who came in on his first day and informed the staff, “You all work for me now. Remember that.

He had decades of career experience in executive corporate work, along with military service. He’d handled entire divisions of companies, so this little nonprofit, he figured, would be a piece of cake. They just needed a little discipline, a little taste of corporate management, and he’d have the NPO whipped into shape.

He lasted six weeks, which was a little more “interim” than anyone had planned.

Don’t be that guy.

I didn’t expect to be part of the Great Resignation, but here I am.

I start a new job today, and I’ve been thinking a lot about that guy, and how not to be him.

1. Fight Dunning-Kruger with a sponge.

Like him I have decades of experience, including military service and running my own small company. And that doesn’t mean sh*t.

I’m not going to fall into the fallacy of thinking that doing the same things I’ve done before in a completely different environment will have the same result. In fact, I’m not going to assume any of that experience applies to this new position, even though I was hired based on the hope that it is.

Instead, I’m going to focus on one particular skill: learning. I’m going to be a sponge, taking in everything around me as I go. Some of my skills may be useful — but it’s more important to figure out what I lack, so that I can start filling those gaps.

2. Bring a notebook.

I’m a technophile; I love my Apple Watch, my iPad, my Concepts app for sketchnoting and oh, don’t get me started on all those Notion templates.

I’m bringing a nice little grey notebook with a yellow pen strap to my first day.

This does two things: first, it keeps me from falling into any kind of distraction of social media or email. I will be focused on what I need to learn on this first day.



Gray Miller

Gray is a former Marine dancer grandpa visualist who writes to help adults figure out what they want to be when they grow up.