Guess who got to flap his gums on career day?
GUESS WHO GOT TO INFLUENCE YOUNG LIVES ON CAREER DAY AT A LOCAL MIDDLE SCHOOL? Yup. Yours truly. And there I was, blue suit coat and fancy pants ready to walk in and start espousing about the journey to becoming [day job] and a bit about my military career.
However, as I rode to the school something hit me.
These kids and their teachers could not care less about my job in public relations, my journey in the military, my comic book, or frack-all …
… about me.
My journey is not their journey.
See, the school is a tough one, one of the toughest in the county and the state. Kids have it hard for all sorts of reasons. I know this because my wife is a teacher at the school, and we’ve contributed time, money, shoes, rides home, rides to school, sweatshirts, and just about anything else we can to help. Reading off my resume would have been as dull as it sounded to me as I typed this. Death-by-PowerPoint dull.
So, while my journey is not their journey, the Gandalf-like wisdom I’ve gained from friends, coworkers, leaders and (gulp, sorry Eric) mentors stuck. And I thought I’d tell you since many of these things not only help growing teenagers but can also help adults when we need focus and emPHAsis on the right life sylLAbles.
In any case, with age comes arthritic knees and swamp ass …
No. Wait. With age comes WISDOM. Right. Anyway …
Don’t do something a robot eventually will
Yeah, even when I said it aloud, it felt weird and IT’S WHAT I STARTED WITH.
All the Azimov stories I’d read in grade school popped to life in that one utterance. AI is advancing rapidly. Self-driving cars will lead to SANDMEN, RUNNERS AND A 30-YEAR LIFE. Most of the kids in that room were at that age when you started ramping up for careers. Some parents start by cage fighting for that exclusive pre-K school slot. No matter. What is it you can do for a career that will not be wrenched away by our robot overlords? Can you do many things, be flexible, and adapt as you go? Will it be easier to just join the Borg collective?
Anyway, I think they got it. Robots are coming to turn all of us into WALL-E cruise line passengers. Get ready.
One student wanted to open a craft store. She asked, “How do you overcome your fear, and just go do it.”
PREPARE. STUDY. RESEARCH. PLAN. PLAN. PREPARE. ACT.
Courage is facing the thing that gives you fear so the next time you face it there is none.
Also, when you’re a 14-year-old pursuing who has a vision that clear? That’s not fear. That’s excitement. Channel that and turn it into enthusiasm. Showcase it, and then let banks and investors make it rain on your ideas.
Unless SkyNet hates crafts. Then we’re all screwed.
These kids have challenges, more than I ever faced growing up as a Navy brat hauled from house to house every two years. Most of their challenges ARE NOT OF THEIR OWN DOING. They are kids affected and shaped by their environment, issues I hear about that still leave my jaw dropped. The kids have little say in fixing them. It’s hard, but if you want it bad enough, it’s temporary. Seek out positive influence. Trust your teachers. Set your goals and stick to them. Endure. Survive to see the next sunrise. Be better than the day before. I believe in you. So many people do.
A lot of pithy BS, right? I agree. It was tough saying this aloud knowing just how difficult their journey is and how little of it might get applied, but I said it anyway in hopes some would battle through and maybe someone’s never said it before.
Besides, the two people before me talked about a Game of Thrones-like ascension into tech and buying life insurance. I had a leg up.
My mantra has always been 15% relationships and 85% bribery.
No. Wait. That’s corruption in Albania.
This journey is about 85% relationships and 15% skills/education/experience. Psst. Relationships matter. A LOT. They can never be replaced and rarely repaired. Find like minds. Find positive influencers and KEEP THEM. Get business cards, phone numbers, Snapchat addresses, Instagram feeds. Start now and do what you need to do to build those relationships to get where you need to go.
I found three future video game designers in one room. They had no idea they all were in that clique. After I left, I think they got 90 million in venture capital, so YOU’RE WELCOME FOR THE NEXT FLAPPY BIRD, WORLD.
I had a few other tidbits and I could yank out the full rubric of old-man wisdom. But ‘being REALLY good at whatever you chose does matter,’ ‘starting NOW,’ and something about ‘clean underwear’ popped up. As the school year winds down, I’ll continue to do all I can to support them in their efforts.
What would you tell that embattled teenager to help her get started on that craft store? Would love to know.