Thursday, May 25, 2017

Educational Return on Investment

Today, more than ever, high school aged students need to carefully think through the ROI (Return on Investment) for the post secondary education options they may be considering. Right now trade jobs account for 54% of the labor market. 

Great Short Video by Mike Rowe

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, the annual cost for tuition, fees, room and board for a a four year degree vs a two year degree in 1985 has more than doubled, while the annual cost for tuition, fees, room and board for a two year degree rose by 30%. 

National Center for Educational Statistics

Four year degree - $11,548 (1985) to $24,409 (2015)
Two year degree - $7,115 (1985) to $10,153 (2015)

The total average cost for a four year degree today is $97,636.

The total average cost for a two year degree today is $20,153.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Work Ethic

It is the way of the world that our children’s work ethic is not as strong as ours. Our collective work ethic has been driven by the times. The more affluent the United States has become, the more our work ethic has weaned. This is natural from two standpoints.

First, our life situation is our greatest motivator. When we wake up each day unsure if we will be able to put food on the table, we have an absolute, 100 percent focus on doing what we need to survive. When we have a relatively stable life situation, with a roof over our head and stocked kitchen cabinets, we don’t have near the same level of tension about our survival.

Second, the prime directive for any parent is to enable their children to have a better life than they had. Toward this end, we do what we can to make our children’s lives easier and more comfortable.

Our parent’s grandparents lived through the great depression era where they had to exist day to day. Their world was one where bread lines and tent cities were common and they would do whatever work, wherever, whenever, to allow their families to survive.

Having grown up during the great depression, our parent’s parents became the “Greatest Generation.” The country had mostly rebounded from the Great Depression and people generally achieved a basic level of subsistence.

Their character having been forged by the trials of their youth, they resolutely answered the call to save the world from the spread of fascism during World War II and then became the foundation to the country’s ensuing economic boom.

Their children grew up during a time when our country saw significant development. The middle class that became the foundation of our country blossomed. Our parent’s youth was reasonably comfortable and the first that had the normalization of entertainment as a routine part of life.

We had the good fortune of growing up during a time of overall comfort. Advances to basic household items like refrigerators, washing machines and air conditioners made life much more convenient. The little treats like eating out became more common and we saw the emergent elements of common technologies make their way into our lives. 

While supported in great part by debt, the world we live in today is one of marked affluence. Our children’s lives are such that an overwhelming majority of the children on the planet can only dream of experiencing.

Why is it important to take a step back and put this all into perspective?

We need to recognize both the strengths and weaknesses of our youth today, and do our part to help them maximize their strengths and to understand and address their weaknesses. Yes, just as we did not have the same work ethic as our parents, they do not have our work ethic.

Our challenge is to help them see the value in, and to develop, the kind of work ethic that will be instrumental their success in life. We can’t do this by bemoaning it. We can only do this by first understanding it ourselves.

Then take a productive approach in trying to help our youth understand the world that they are coming into, and how to mitigate against the convenience that surrounds them and understand how much hard work is coming their way. As well as dealing with the difficulties that they will face on their life’s journey.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Be Prepared to Dust Yourself Off

When we talk to young people about life, we have to speak to the moment we live in. The world today has a strong focus and emphasize on enthusiasm, energy and having high hopes.

We have to support these mindsets. We have to speak to the need to be passionate and to have dreams. At the same time, we need to prepare our youth for the reality of life.

Success does not just fall into our laps. It takes a consistency of effort. It takes hard work, determination and resolve.

The path to success is extraordinarily long. We have to wake up each and every day, roll up our sleeves and go to work. There will set backs. There will disappointments.

There will be times when we think the world is against us. There will be times when we question ourselves. When we question our capabilities and our resolve.

The more young people are prepared to face life’s setbacks, the better they will weather them.

To highlight this point, I am sharing something that one of my connections at Linked In posted.

At age 23, Tina Fey was working at a YMCA.
At age 23, Oprah was fired from her first reporting job.
At age 24, Stephen King was working as a janitor and living in a trailer.
At age 27, Vincent Van Gogh failed as a missionary and decided to go to art school.
At age 28, J.K. Rowling was a suicidal single parent living on welfare.
At age 30, Harrison Ford was a carpenter.
At age 37, Ang Lee was a stay-at-home-dad working odd jobs.
Julia Child released her first cookbook at age 39, and got her own cooking show at age 51.
Vera Wang failed to make the Olympic figure skating team, didn’t get the Editor-in-Chief position at Vogue, and designed her first dress at age 40.
Stan Lee didn’t release his first big comic book until he was 40.
Alan Rickman gave up his graphic design career and landed his first movie role at age 42.
Samuel L. Jackson didn’t get his first major movie role until he was 46.
Morgan Freeman landed his first major movie role at age 52.

Whatever your dream is, it is not too late to achieve it.
Never tell yourself you’re too old to make it.
Never tell yourself you missed your chance.
Never tell yourself that you aren’t good enough.
You can do it.
Whatever it is.
J.P. Skowron, Executive Recruiter at CyberCoder

Friday, April 14, 2017

Defining Your Mistakes

You ARE going to make mistakes. It just is a part of life. We all make them.

Will you define your mistakes or will you let your mistakes define you? 

Here are some great memes  that you might want consider as personal or re-directional anchors. 

Friday, March 31, 2017

It isn't a genetic break

Frank Martin is one of the most colorful coaches in college basketball. This quote has gone viral over the last week in part because it of his forceful delivery and in part because of the hint of truth that rings through in it.

He is right in that there has not been some kind of major genetic break in the human species over the last few decades that has affected our younger generation. There really is nothing different with the kids themselves. They simply are born into a different time, into a different world.

The world moved a lot slower for previous generations. The schools that we attended in the 90s were pretty much the same as they were in the 80s, 70s, 60s and 50s. Teachers instructed with chalk on blackboards while occasionally rolling in a cart with an overhead projector or passing out the box with the Texas Instrument calculators in it. 


The world changes today based on the exponential evolution of technology. Today we upgrade our super computer (cell phone) every two years. Our parents had the same rotary phone most of their lives.

Things are infinitely faster today. And, extraordinarily more transactional. Today’s youth cut their teeth on technology, and as such have a unique built in advantage that no other generation has had. They are much more comfortable with technology. They can roll with the endless ways that it changes and integrates into all aspects of life much better than prior generations.

At the same time, the world is much more complex and competitive. They can keep up with the pace reasonably well. But, with all that is going on, the basics tend to get overlooked. Things move so fast, there is less time available to foster patience, focus and work ethic.

This isn’t “their fault.” We all are in some ways a lump of clay in our youth, and the world around us helps to form who we become. As teachers and others committed to the development of young minds we can try our best to help mold them toward these characteristics.

We can emphasize and model character and integrity. We can do our best to establish environments intended to develop accountability and personal responsibility. We can treat young people with respect, and talk to them as adults. In an honest and “Frank” manner.

We can speak in the moment we live in – “aim high”, “shoot for the moon.”

At the same time emphasize that success does not just fall into our laps. That there are a LOT of their peers that they are going to be battling with to get ahead. That they had better have a plan and know what they are going to do. That they are going to have to fight, hard, to get what they want in life. That they are going to have to wake up each and every day with focus. Wake up each and every day and be their best. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Managing Difficult People

My first career was as a counselor with children and families. It was very challenging in a good way for someone fresh out of college and rather idealistic. I particularly liked, and was adept at, working with difficult clients, such as oppositional/defiant teenagers, and people in difficult and stressful life situations.

My effectiveness in working with these types of people was due in great part to my “delivery.” In a way I was a pitcher, with the ability to effectively get the ball across the plate in a manner that allowed clients to hear what I was saying.

This concept is important to anyone who works with difficult people, regardless of setting – human services, business, customer service, etc. There are two parts to this process. Having the ability to feel people and having a good repertoire of pitches and deliveries.

In baseball, teams keep a book on the batters for opposing teams. Going into the game, a pitcher knows what kind of pitches a batter likes and what pitches he struggles with. In this analogy, we aren’t looking to strike anyone out. We are trying to be conscious of what a batter might be able hit out of the park. We want people to hear what we are saying, not groove it so they smash a line drive right back at us.

Most times, you can just lay things out to folks. But, some people can be defensive or have various predispositions that makes it hard for them to hear things. So, you may need to work the plate a bit before making your delivery. Soften them up to set up the message you want to get across.

This requires a good bit of intuition. The ability to “know” people generally, and the person you are dealing with specifically. You can have thoughts about people. But good pitchers very rarely are in their heads. They feel the moment, feel the energy. You have to be able to both think about what you are going to say at the same time you have a clear mind to be able to pick up on the subtleties of the individual as well as the moment.
Most successful pitchers have a good fastball. It does not need to be the 97 mph four seamer that you just blow by people. A standard 93 mph two seamer does the job most often, using your feel to move it around to different parts of the plate for effectiveness.

But, when interacting with difficult people it helps to develop some other pitches. Curveballs can be tricky and if not delivered perfectly can get rocked. It probably is best to develop your off-speed pitches. These are very effective with people who are in heightened states and are eager to swing for the fences. Good off speed pitches include:

Acknowledging the good intentions or positive attributes of the other person.
Taking a mildly self-depreciating tone.
Taking some personal responsibility upfront.
Changing your tone or pacing of how fast you are talking.

Finally, perhaps the most important factor is your ability to not get caught up in the moment. Keep in mind that people are people. With different personalities and temperaments. Who may very well be under great stress for reasons you may not have any awareness.

Accept people for who they are, with compassion. Anger is a secondary emotion that arises from the intensity of other more core feelings – fear, disappointment, being hurt, etc.

Stay calm. Don’t let moment overwhelm you or get too far into your own head. Feel the other person and focus on how you can best deliver your message.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Five Goal Setting Principles

The more goals that you have, the more direction you will have in your life.
The more goals you are actively working on, the more you will achieve in life.
The more you focus on your goals, the quicker and more efficiently you will get what you want in life.
It is always good to set specific times each year to review your goals. To reaffirm want you want in life. To make sure you are on track to making it reality. To refocus, make adjustments or create new goals. 

As you develop your goals keep these five goal setting principles in mind:

1. Your goals are YOUR goals.

Hear what others have to say. Try to make the best and most informed decisions possible. But it is important to have full ownership of the things you are working toward. Don’t set goals based on what you think other people want you to do.

2. Always be candid and honest with yourself when goal setting.

There are a lot of ways that we can fool ourselves. Don’t unnecessarily limit yourself or make excuses to avoid something. But don’t be unrealistic or foolish about the goals that you set.

3. Focus on what you can do and what you can control.

You can’t move forward if your focus is on the things you can’t control. DO WHAT YOU CAN DO. Waste as little time as possible concerning yourself with what you can’t control.

4. Commit to acting in the present and toward the future once you set your goals.

You can’t move forward if your focus is on the past. The dream (goal) is the beacon in the future that you focus on. The things in the present are what you can do to get there. The past is the past, and any time or energy spent on it is wasted.

5. Commit to acting once you have set your goals.

Very little in life just comes to you. Anything important will require time, energy, and passion. Waking up each day, rolling up your sleeves and going to work. Then doing it again the next day. And, the next day.

Simply put – goals are our dreams put to action. Determine what you what you want in life. Come up with the plan to make it happen. Then get to work!