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By Jerome "Romey Rome" Williams

presented at Ohio University Kushinda 2016 Graduation Ceremony


When I was asked to speak at this program, my first question was “well what do you think the students want to hear?” The response was “We all are graduating and nervous about what’s next…Can you help to prepare us for what’s next?” So I thought about this long and hard and tried to come up with what I thought would prepare you all. How many of you are familiar with Evan Carmichaels Top 10 Rules for Success? Well for those of you who are not familiar, I recommend that you go on YouTube and look this up and find the rules of Oprah, Beyoncé, P. Diddy, Jay-Z, Denzel Washington, and others. In the meantime I will offer you “Romey Rome’s Top Ten Rules for Success.”

1. Pray

I don’t know who leads your life, but God is the leader of mine.  It’s been my personal experience that while you’re supposed to be explicit in what you pray for; I have learned that what I’m praying for may not be what’s best for me.

So now my prayer is “Lord, let your will be your way.”

He already has it figured out and I’m just a passenger

along forthe ride in this thing called life. Let Him be the 

guide and He will never steer you wrong.

2. Be Yourself

So many people think you have to be a certain person at work in corporate America, which is normally nowhere near who they really are. I’m not saying don’t maintain a level of professionalism and dress the part, but let me be honest, they know when you are not being your authentic self. Think about it this way, how you start is how you have to finish. So let your personality shine, ladies embrace your natural curls, fellas let your work product speak to your capability, AND not the color of your skin.  


3. Be Goal Oriented

Ever since I decided to major in accounting, I had a goal to be at 6 figures by the age of 30. That means make at least $100,000/year. Sounds like an aggressive goal for a little black boy born in inner city Cleveland, Ohio to a 17 year old single mother huh? Well I stand before you at 29 years old with that goal achieved. I don’t tell you that to brag, I tell you that to show you the possibility. I sat in the same seat as you just 7 years ago. 


4. Stay Involved

People probably told you all to be involved in High School so that you can use it for your college applications. The same people probably also told you to be involved during your college years so that you can use it to get your first job. But don’t let it stop there. Continue to be involved. I have served on Board of Directors for non-profits, Executive Board Member for the Charlotte chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants, and as a graduate member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Through my involvement in NABA, my network has grown and I landed my most recent job at Wells Fargo Bank through my involvement and the relationships I have built. The saying “it’s not always about what you know…but who you know” stands true.

5. Know Your Worth

As a people, it has been studied and proven that we do not negotiate our salaries when given a job offer. And I hate to say it but women especially black women typically do not negotiate. If a company has given you an offer, typically they want you as an employee as much as you want them to be your employer. If there is anything about your job offer that you feel you want changed including salary, vacation time, and so forth don’t be afraid to inquire and negotiate.                    For my most recent job offer, my wife thought some of my demands were pretty aggressive as did I actually. But I asked for 10 more thousand on my base salary, and an additional 10 thousand in a sign on bonus, and for my start date to be pushed back a week so I could go on vacation in LA before starting my new job. The worst thing that they could’ve said was no. But remember closed mouths don’t get fed and I was given everything I asked for.

6. Get a Mentor
Find someone in the area that you are interested in going into. Not just anyone though; someone who you are comfortable with, someone who is at a higher level than you (And I say that so they can advise you on how to reach the next level). Use this person to seek advice, to ask questions, and to guide you through your career. I have several mentors, some that are new and some that I have had for years. And I call, email and text them continuously asking questions and seeking advice. The story I just told you about in regards to negotiating my salary came from my mentor from my previous employer, who’s a great friend today. She told me to ask for all that and I bust out laughing on the other end of the phone. But her advice turned out to be just what I needed to do to reach my goal I told you all about earlier.

7. Continue Your Education
When I sat in your seat 7 years ago, I was like I’m never going back to school. I’m never buying another textbook, renting one, or getting one from Ohio Link. I was done. Then fast forward a year later and I was an MBA student. And then fast forward another two years and I was studying to be a certified internal auditor. Continuing education doesn’t mean going back to school necessarily. But attend conferences and trainings that will enhance your skill set and obtain certifications in whatever profession you are in. I say all of this to say, continuing your education and expanding your knowledge helps to set you apart from your peers or others in pursuit of the same job or promotion. I worked for the #1 public accounting firm PwC and was promoted to Senior Associate after only 1 year. When I received news of my promotion and my annual review, some of the highlights were my personality, my relationship building with our clients, and my involvement in firm activities and other professional organizations, as well as my eagerness to expand my knowledge of internal auditing.


8. Find Balance

I live by the motto of “Work Hard and Play Harder.”  Whatever it is that you like to do, use it to reward yourself for all of your hard work! Ladies go get a mani and pedi. Fellas go watch the game with the fellas.  My thing is traveling.  I love to travel.  My next big trip is to Antigua in July.  So I use that as my motivation to continue to work hard so I can continue to afford experiences like that.

9. Give Back

You never know the impact that you will have on others through giving back. It’s something that I pride myself in doing, due to the impact that others have had on me through giving back. One of the best examples is the reason why I am an accountant today. I attended a free camp at Ohio State University hosted by the National Association of Black Accountants called the Accounting Career Awareness Program (ACAP). I got to meet so many black accountants who all took different career paths, but had one thing in common and that was an accounting degree. Fast forward and guess who has been the Director of that camp in Charlotte for the last 2 years? That’s right…me! It’s Funny how life comes full circle and I’m able to give to those students what was given to me when I attended the same camp in the summer of 2004.


10. Pray Again

All things are possible through Him. And it is ok to just thank Him

for all that He has done for you. I stand in front of you today as a true

testimony of the work that God can do.


Everyone has a story. A different story. But a story nonetheless.

Mine is a someone who came from nothing and who has continued

to work hard because I always knew there was more to life than what

I was exposed to.  And no one necessarily laid out rules to success for

me like I just did. I had to figure it out on my own. So my hope is that

you will take what I shared with you tonight and apply it to your lives.


And remember our stories are different. But everyone has one. So I hope that these Top 10 Rules to Success will help to enhance you and your story and maybe one day you can come back to Kushinda and speak to the graduating class and help them to enhance theirs.

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