Posts Tagged ‘facebook’

A couple of days ago, a young student approached me and asked me for some career advice. The student wanted to understand a little more about what banking and finance is about, and how it measures up in terms of their “dream job“. I was very impressed with this young student, because unlike many of their peers, they were actually trying to look at their future and start planning. This student, to be fair, is part of an advanced group of students. They get tutoring as part of their regular school day, they have additional instruction in note-taking and other study skills, and they are in advanced Math and English classes. They have a leg up over many students already. This young person seemed to have a leg up on even this group.

There was another teacher in the room at the time, who had worked in a similar field in her younger years, and we both shared some of the upsides and downsides, many of the really funny incidents, and some of the sad, sobering, almost depressing parts of our former jobs. See, no job is truly perfect. There are some good parts and bad parts, and much of adult life is about learning to deal with the bad parts while preparing for, waiting for, and whenever possible working to create the good parts.

And while just that much would have been a good enough lesson, that isn’t the main point of this post.

If you have been doing your job as a parent or concerned party of a young person, there is likely to be a point where they will ask you about career advice themselves. How you respond, what you say and how you say it, and your timing are crucial.

Once a young person asks your advice about future careers, they are putting the trust of their future in your hands!

So how do you respond?

“Follow your bliss!”

Some parents think this is great advice. They want their children to be happy in whatever they do. I’m not going to say that this approach doesn’t have any merit because I know that all parents want their children to be happy. Hell! I’m not even a parent, and I want other people’s children to be happy in their career. Happy people generally don’t make as many mistakes, and tend to do their jobs much better overall than their less happy peers. If that’s all it takes to be able to go to Taco Bell and not get my order screwed up or just ugly, then follow that bliss.

But there is a slight downside. For many kids, their bliss is playing video games or taking obnoxious pictures of themselves for Facebook. True, with a little creativity and some luck, you can make a career out of either of those, but neither has that ring of career aspirations that would make a parent proud.


“Follow the family!”

Okay, if “the family” is really The Family, I’m staying out of this argument altogether! But assuming that we’re talking about parents like my mom, who truly believe that following in the family business or doing the same job as your parents is a good thing, there’s a lot to be said for this method too. There is nothing wrong with upholding the traditions of your family, taking advantage of the skills and training from what may be generations of people who have done a job with love and with pride. I kind of like to believe that I’m in my family’s business as a teacher because my grandfather was a teacher in his home country. I get that I’m probably stretching a bit, but it makes me feel good.

But what if, like me with my mom, the family business just isn’t a good fit? Even if I went into my mom’s business of nursing and caring for the sick, that isn’t me either. One of my brothers works construction. He has three daughters that all together probably don’t have the upper body strength required to do what he does, plus it isn’t a very feminine job, and his daughters are very feminine girls. Should they, and I, have taken a job that we don’t enjoy? Even if it means that we will suck at it and embarrass the very people we were trying to please by doing the job in the first place?

“What’s important to you?”

The way I approached my student was to ask what was important to them. What are they looking for in a career? We also talked about what skills they felt they might want to strengthen. As we talked, I was able to throw a few different ideas their way, and as what they said changed, I was able to change my suggestions to fit their evolving priorities. Keeping in mind that this student is very young, and their priorities will change several times between now and when they become an adult, it was more important to get them to think in terms of what they want out of a job than it was to try to stuff them in a hole that might become a bad fit later on.

Is there a downside to this? Sure, I guess that the student might have felt a little unfulfilled when they came to a trusted advisor with the hopes of getting a concrete suggestion. I guess that walking away from a conversation where you hope to get answers with nothing but more questions can be annoying. I’m okay with that because this student needs the opportunity to decide things about themselves before they are going to be ready to plop down for a career that might last them the rest of their lives.

I don’t know why, but as I was having my conversation with my student, I kept thinking that someday they’d be alright.  Of course, one of my favorite songs about someday is this one, and while it is a sad song, and possibly a little depressing, I’ve always enjoyed it and I hope you do too.  Enjoy!


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File:Anthony Weiner, official portrait, 112th Congress.jpgThis week, I was working with a middle school class and I was asked what my opinion was of “The Weiner Thing”. Okay, I’ll admit that my first instinct was to make inappropriate jokes that were at the level of the student asking me. My second instinct was to make another, even worse, joke. I think my exact words were something along the lines of “I love it. I carry it with me all the time.” I told you, these are my first instincts. Eventually, I came around to answering the very serious and encouraging question asked by a student who hasn’t demonstrated (up till now) an engagement with current events. I’m posting a response more for the parents who might have questions to answer from kids who hear or see news (mostly accidentally), or who are force-fed a line by the government school system (it happens way more than you want to believe).

First, let’s get straight what this post isn’t about. In the interest of full disclosure, I am a Conservative, based mostly on economic positions. On a personal level, I don’t like Anthony Weiner because I disagree with his politics. I’m not terribly interested in this subject. All that being said, the “Weiner Thing” is really about two separate and wholly unequal issues. One is incidental, and one is very important. Let’s start with the former.

The Facts:

-Congressman Anthony Weiner has, by his own admission, sent what are considered to be inappropriate pictures of himself to Twitter Followers.

-He has done this both before and after his marriage.

-He accidentally broadcast a picture of his junk in underwear through Twitter.

Those are the facts of the issue that are not important. See, Weiner is an adult. If he wants to display his shortcomings to the world via Twitter, FaceBook, or a Billboard in New York, this is his right and prerogative to do so. Weiner would like to leave this post at that, but then there is the little problem of the second issue, which is important.

Some More Facts:

-Congressman Weiner is one of 500+ people who make the rules of the Country. He should be held to a standard of ethical behavior and honesty.

-He repeatedly lied about what isn’t really that big a deal.

-(Pardon the pun) He was a real dick in the way he dealt with the media.

-He didn’t know the people he sent the pictures to.

This is important to young people because aside from the jokes and the overly jaded political ideologues out there, young people are told that they should trust those in authority. They should be able to look up to “officials”, and emulate their behavior. At the very least, they should believe that those in authority are smart enough to know that you shouldn’t send pictures of your junk to strangers, and especially not to people who may be under-aged.

Further, the Weiner debacle serves as a cautionary tale against arrogance. He might be destroying his career because of the way he approached the media, first in his lie, and later in his arrogance.

When further asked if I thought Weiner should be fired or jailed, here are my thoughts on that. I live in California, not New York. I’m never going to be in a position where Anthony Weiner will be on my ballot. His behavior certainly will have repercussions with his wife, the House of Representatives, and with his constituents in New York, my involvement ends at helping young people to learn to avoid the mistakes that Weiner made.



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Okay, maybe you’ve already broke your New Year’s Resolution to get in better shape. You probably have broken many of your resolutions. Just this Monday, I had a student tell me that they broke their new year’s resolution to be on time to school. Monday was the students’ first day back after winter break.

The reason I refused to name specific resolutions for New Year’s is because so many resolutions fail. Rather than look sad like my friend here, now you have the opportunity to get off your butt and do something. Just don’t call it a resolution!

Getting in shape is the most popular resolution. Getting out of debt and being better with money was up there. Guess which one I care more about?

  • Understand that learning about finance, much like getting in better physical shape, is a process, not a simple declaration. Take small steps. Right now, you are young enough to make a real effort, and even to make a few missteps once in a while. Don’t give up already.
  • Don’t get hung up on titles or artificial definitions. You want to learn to be better with money than your friends and some members of your family. You don’t need to say that you are going to be “debt-free” in 2011, unless you really think this is a goal that is attainable and worthy of attaining. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with wanting to avoid debt, but don’t lose sight of the bigger picture of being happy and living a fulfilling life.
  • While this is an individual journey, you don’t have to always be alone. If you don’t have friends or family that will go on a similar journey, find people that have already been there or who are on the fence about starting their own. There are tons of Finance blogs out there where this is their whole approach. Check out my blogroll for several of what I consider to be the best examples. Check out my Twitter followers for others.
  • Do not ignore the benefit of doing your homework. Just like in math, science, or any other class in school, you don’t have all the answers. You have access to them, but you have to do the work. Reading these articles will help, reading and re-reading finance for youth: the book will also get you there. Frankly, there are several other writers out there who might resonate more with you that will help. I don’t care where you get the information (as long as it is accurate), just that you get it and read it.
  • Practice what you learn. There is a huge difference between reading books about Bruce Lee and taking martial arts lessons. I’ve done both. The books were great, but they never helped me to defend myself when I needed to. You need to practice the skills I teach you here or else you won’t be able to use them when you need to. Nowhere in the world of f4y do I tell you how to handle every situation. I have no intentions of changing that. I give you guidelines and basic skills. It is up to you to adapt what I teach you into something that serves you in other situations.

There are no guarantees in life, which means you could do everything right and some stupid thing or another could screw it up anyway. It also means that you may succeed even if you do nothing. I’m suggesting ways to increase the probability that you can succeed, and instead of being like my friend above, you can be more like his idol here. Notice how through following my advice, from a very young age, he is now in fantastic shape to succeed. I hope the same for you!

So instead of wallowing in whatever failure you think you are guilty of because you couldn’t stick to something as weighty as a New Year’s resolution, start tonight to build in a determined, planned, reasoned out, regiment to succeed. I’ve got a feeling that you might succeed after all!



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This is just a quick post to tell you about the contest that is going from now till the end of September.  If you ask a question here, or on my TWITTER account, or FACEBOOK, or even email, you will be entered in a random drawing for a signed copy of Finance For Youth: The Book.  Got the rules?

  1. Ask a question anywhere on Finance For Youth.
  2. Your name is entered in a random drawing.
  3. At the end of September, I pull a name, contact the winner, and send you a signed copy of Finance For Youth:  The Book.

Simple, no? (Oohh!  That’s one for me?)

Some of you might not be as super-excited to win a signed copy of my book, but it beats the heck out of being the winner in this song.

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Last week, a couple of things happened that got these wheels turning.  One made me a little sad but proud at the same time, and the other just frustrated the hell out of me (apologies to those who thought they had already beat the hell out of me or scared the hell out of me– there was still a little hell left) because of the sheer ignorance.  Both are important to you and your future.

First, General Stanley McChrystal submitted his resignation as the leader of our nation’s efforts in Afghanistan.  He did this after an interview he gave to ROLLING STONE magazine.  Both McChrystal and his aides were caught being unflattering and insulting to the current administration.  When I heard about the story, and later when I read the story, I was sad.  It’s not like I have a problem with criticizing the President.  I have done so for years, throughout the last three or four people to hold the office.  Before that, I was too young to know what I was talking about.  It isn’t even as if I have a problem with criticizing one’s boss.  I’ve done so for my entire working life.

But I never did so in front of the customer!

What General McChrystal did was wrong.  He should never have allowed his complaints be printed.  If that meant that he didn’t do an interview, so be it.  He was sure to get his 15 minutes after he retired.  At that time, he could have said whatever he wanted to say.  That a General would engage in those kind of shenanigans at all made me sad.  The dumbest of generals is still a bit brighter than most people.  You just don’t get to that position by being dumb.  So leaving aside the seeming stupidity of saying something to the press in the first place, what about the merit of what he said?  Is there any merit to what he said?  I’m not going to get into that debate here, but it is sad to think that there might be any merit to his comments and now we might be losing his insight. 

Of course, I was proud when I heard that he had come back to Washington with his resignation in hand.  I was proud because he did the right thing.  He walked in, took his butt-chewing, and was able to walk out with his head held high.  When I retired from banking, I did so because I wasn’t as passionate as I once was about the job.  I got to a point where I just didn’t care anymore.  So I left.  I left where my word and my name still meant something.  I left after having trained a capable replacement and talking to my “special” members who had been getting special care from me.  In the few times that I have gone back to check up on things, I noted that the system that I had established had been little changed since my departure.  I know, nothing compared to what General McChrystal went through, but I can relate to leaving a place with honor.

You will leave many jobs throughout your life.  I can almost guarantee that you will leave some badly.  I’ve done it many times over.  Sometimes I left more honorably than others.  The times that I left with honor have helped me move onward and upward to better places.  The times I left without honor made me look at myself and work on what I could have or should have done better.  I use those bad experiences to shape my future behavior.

On the event that had hell shooting out of me in frustration (think of any of the demons in Supernatural, especially as Sam Winchester exorcises them), this stemmed from a video posted on Facebook.

There is a teacher out there in Los Angeles that is a self-described activist.  His issues are fighting against budget cuts to schools and fighting against the Arizona illegal immigrant law.  In my opinion, he is a kook.  His videos give the impression that he has never read the text of the law.  That is my first problem.  I have no issue with people who have an argument that is backed in fact, logic, and having read the damned bill.  Some may not like Arizona’s law because they feel that it oversteps federal authority.  Fair enough.  But his arguments are ludicrous, and worse, he is a teacher.  He indoctrinates kids every day to his point of view. 

On Facebook, his video was posted on the union page with a tagline that he won a civil rights award.  I commented that he, and the Fox News anchor that interviewed him are both loons.  The poster of the video replied that I am a union basher, and backed up this assertion with a snippet from an earlier post from here.  So far, no problem.  He’s right.  I stated that unions don’t care for children, and as a teacher I am against union domination.

My real problem comes when other teachers use tactics like cherry-picking words from a post (like this one), taking them out of context in order to make personal attacks.  This is always the last refuge of a weak argument.  But these people deal with kids.  They teach kids that this is a legitimate debate technique.

In the interest of full disclosure, two teachers had problems with THIS post:

In particular, they have a problem with me stating that students who don’t go to school or those who abuse drugs, alcohol, or who are violent and are kicked out of public school are dumbasses.  They missed the point of the post where I am supportive of these kids when they try to make themselves better.  These are the teachers that are in our public schools.  These are the teachers that are shaping your future.  These are the reason I tell you to question everything.

I would like for many of these teachers to have to deal with the students I choose to teach on a daily basis, but I don’t see why the students should be punished for the sins of these teachers.

I have spent a while working as a teacher in the correctional system.  I teach at Juvenile Hall.  Believe me when I say that working there pulls at the heart-strings and makes a person think hard about the choices they have made.    During my time, I have seen young kids who are terrified because of the reality of what Juvie is.  I have seen kids who have made horrible choices in life and have found themselves cut off from the loving and nurturing that your family and my family give to us.  I have looked in the eyes of teenagers that will not see the light of day as a free person until they are senior citizens.

Note that I know that these kids have all made decisions that have put them in the place they are.  I get it.  But to me, these kids are still kids.  They aren’t irrevocably broken.  I’ve seen kids make some good decisions when everybody around them tells me that they won’t.

So if our goal is to make these kids into productive citizens, we have to start by acknowledging where they have been.  These kids know they made mistakes.  When we pretend that these mistakes never happened, we reinforce the illusion that “the Man” is out to get them.  When we make that leap, we are giving mixed signals.  On one hand, we tell them that they have to follow the rules.  On the other, we tell them, once they get caught that we won’t talk about the mistake they made.

You are the culmination of all of your experiences.  That doesn’t mean you can’t change your future.  It doesn’t mean you can’t become anything you want.  We all have memories that we would rather not remember.  But doing so cuts out a huge part of who we are.  When you make a mistake, financially or in life, embrace it.  Own it.  Learn from it.  Don’t repeat it, but never, ever forget it.


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Given that Halloween is over, and it was a blast, this movie always scared the crap out of me!  Jack is always awesome, but here and in One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, he was awesome!  But this scene reminds me that too often in life we look, head down, at what is right in front of us, and don’t pay attention to what is going on in the rest of the world.

I’m guilty of it.  I focus on work a lot.  When I’m at work, I rarely pay attention to the little things like making friends with coworkers, or anything else really that isn’t directly connected on the work I am supposed to be doing.  Look, I’m not telling you to slack off and not work when you are supposed to, but sometimes it feels good to connect with the world outside of work.  Sometimes that means going out with co-workers to clubs or diners for a (soft)drink, or taking lunch together when permitted.  Sometimes it just means to connect, in any way possible, outside of work.

Here’s an example:  At my last job, I would talk to my co-workers when it had to do with work.  I didn’t become as friendly with them on a personal level as I could have.  The shame of it is that these are good people.  I liked them.  All isn’t lost though.  Through social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, and others, I have had the opportunity to see a little inside of their lives, and they have been able to see a little inside mine.

Facebook has also become a place where I can get together with family and friends that I don’t always get to see.  I enjoy playing several of the games, and competing with friends and family.

This is not to say that you shouldn’t be careful when using these sites.  It should go without saying (but it doesn’t) that you have to be careful with what you put on these sites.  Once you put something on the net, its out there forever.  You need to worry about that when you are taking pictures of yourself in positions that you wouldn’t want your grandmother or employer to see.  Many employers are looking at Facebook and MySpace to see if there is anything out there that they don’t want to be connected with.  So be careful with language, pictures, and anything else that you put on the net.

One other thing, if you are already on these sites, be smart about your posting.  There have been several news stories out there about people (especially young people), who would make dumb choices that came back to bite them.  Stories about people calling in sick from work, and then posting onto their MySpace pages that they were at the beach or somewhere else.  I’ve even heard of collectors using these sites to repossess cars and other items when dumb people didn’t pay for them as agreed.  So don’t do that either.

If you’ve seen my site, you know I am on Facebook and Twitter.  I have a MySpace account, but I don’t use that one much anymore.  I find that most of my readers have grown up a little, and no longer use that particular site.  I also have a group called Finance For Youth.  I’ve just started it, so there are no other members.  Click on my card at the bottom of this page, and friend request me.  Let me know that you are a reader of F4Y, and join the group.  Have a little fun with life and connect with those around you.


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