Self-Economics: A New Era for America’s Emerging Adults

One cannot open a newspaper or turn on a television today without reading or listening to the growing concerns regarding wealth and the economy. Educators, news correspondents and politicians are going so far as to call our lack of financial education and debt accumulation a growing national epidemic and concern.

Scott Pelley of CBS’ “60 Minutes” ran a story on October 28, 2012 called “The Death and Life of Asheboro” which shared that since the year 2000 the number of Americans who worked in the U.S. manufacturing sector has declined from 17 million Americans to just over 12 million. That’s five million jobs lost in manufacturing alone in just the last 12 years to either jobs shifted overseas or closures due to the changing economy. Either way, many Americans in all sectors of the economy are now finding themselves down on their luck and forced to seek other means for financial survival due to these same reasons and others.

In my blog, “Can Making Mistakes Enhance One’s Success?, I discuss how many adults currently between the ages of 40-60 find themselves in financial and personal turmoil, largely due to a lack of financial knowledge and planning created by their own teachers and parents before them.

In conjunction with current economic events and this lack of knowledge many in the Baby Boomer and Generation X groups acknowledge and fear, I have identified and continue to speak about a concurrent national epidemic which I call “financial obesity”: one’s obsessive and self-sabotaging need to constantly overspend and remain financially unhealthy. Like overeaters, the financially obese allow fear to prevent them from achieving the personal and financial success they desire. They simply cannot get out of their own way, and even more alarming, they are now also getting in the way of their children’s own futures. Many of these financially obese parents lack the knowledge and skills to navigate their own lives, so how can they possibly expect to be a productive resource for their children’s financial literacy and personal development?

It should come as no surprise then that like most middle-aged adults today, young and emerging adults who are now graduating college are also finding it hard to find work in the marketplace after graduation. Even worse, most are not prepared and feel ill-equipped to become financially independent, since the majority of their parents and teachers lacked the knowledge required to impart this crucial financial information to these emerging adults.

The U.S. Treasury Department and the Department of Education teamed from 2010 to 2012 to assess financial literacy in U.S. high schools, and the results weren’t pretty: the average score of almost 76,900 students in 2010 was 70 percent. 2011’s testing of about 84,000 students and 2012’s of about 80,000 students were both a point lower: 69 percent. Though young people in America have struggled for decades with financial literacy, state curricula has not shifted much to address the gaps. Fewer than half of states make high school students take an economics class, and just 13 require a personal finance class, according to a 2011 survey by the Council for Economic Education. The biennial survey also shows that just 16 states require testing in economics, three fewer than in 2009. This regression is noted in the survey summary, which points out that over the past two years, the trend toward teaching on these subjects has slowed, and is “in some cases moving backwards.”

“We have a long way to go as a country,” said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in assessing the test results from these three years. “There has been a devastating cost to a lack of attention, urgency and seriousness of taking this on,” he said, noting that the housing crisis, low savings rate and poor retirement planning all flow out of the financial literacy issue.

Yet despite all of the ongoing research and statistics, little effort or action has been taken by Washington and the nation’s Department of Education or the state Boards of Education across the country toward changing or addressing the way schools should be educating children to properly prepare them for the new financial and societal challenges that have been created by the current economic and social changes.

Back in the 1970s and 80s, young adults were required to take home economic courses as part of their junior high and high school curricula with the belief that a foundation for good economics began in the home. However, according to Karen Leonas, an expert in textile chemistry and chair of Washington State University’s Department of Apparel, Merchandising, Design and Textiles, over the past few decades many young adults have lost touch with these basic skills and principles that were once taught in many high school home economics programs around the country. She now sees many students that do not know the essentials—like balancing a check book or sewing on a button. She also believes reintroducing home economics skills back into the current curricula may be valuable in surviving the current economic situation.

bookIn my new book, Demystifying Success: Success Tools and Secrets They Don’t Teach You in High School, I have chosen to proactively educate today’s emerging adults to avoid the very financial pitfalls that are currently paralyzing and plaguing so many older adults. These young adults must be educated now with the appropriate information, tools and resources so they no longer follow blindly in the footsteps of the generations before them and perpetuate the continuing cycle of financial illiteracy in the United States. We must encourage them instead to develop new and self-reliant ways to succeed on their own terms. Moreover, we can positively impact their future personal and financial success by empowering emerging adults during their early, formative years to begin to think entrepreneurially and independently toward make better financial decisions earlier in their lives.

Like the home economics and typing classes of the 1960s and 70s that were designed to prepare young adults to enter the next phase of their lives following graduation, there must now be a concerted effort by lawmakers, educators and communities to join the movement to shift the misguided focus away from the overburdened “No Child Left Behind” standardized testing efforts toward a more productive and effective enhancing high school and college curricula that I have dubbed “Self-Economics, which should include financial literacy (that promotes personal finance and investing and the avoidance of “financial obesity”), personal development (that promotes a more theoretical approach (“the power of why”) to learning and decision making,  and entrepreneurship (which encompasses many of the elements of my T.I.M.E. Model) in an effort for emerging adults to better compete in a new century of global uncertainty.

In order to change the future outcomes for our children today, the 2001 “No Child Left Behind” Reform Act can no longer ignore ongoing issues surrounding financial illiteracy among young and emerging adults. Lawmakers and educators must step up and take action to introduce new educational concepts, techniques, and tools within the U.S. school systems that address this erratic financial ignorance that has plagued so many older adults.

In the April, 24, 2012 USA Today article by Hadley Malcolm, “The Cost of Financial Illiteracy”, Annamaria Lusardi, an economics and accountancy professor and director of the financial literacy center at George Washington University, said, “If we live in a world where people are in charge of their own financial well-being … we have to equip people to deal with this individual responsibility.”

“Only about two-thirds (more than 2,000) of the total college and universities in the United States now offer a course in entrepreneurship. A smaller but growing number have entire sequences leading to an undergraduate minor, a master’s in entrepreneurship, or something similar,” said Judith Cone, Vice President of Entrepreneurship, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

Scott Pelley explained, during that same “60 Minutes” segment I mentioned earlier, that many of these economically affected communities like Asheboro, North Carolina, are starting to re-build themselves—not because new big companies are beginning to move back in, but because “dozens of new entrepreneurs are setting up shops because a lot of them were down on their luck and had no choice but to cook up new ideas.”

I completely agree, in this new era of “Self-Economics”, that adults of all ages must now learn or re-learn and realize that they can no longer rely on others to solve or create their desired futures.

Jeffrey Arnett, author of the 2007 book Emerging Adult: Coming of Age in the 21st Century and When Will My Grown-Up Kid Grow Up? (May, 2013), believes, “If you provide emerging adults with resources, they’re much more likely to say, ‘How can I improve my life?’”

Like Arnett, it is my intention to help raise the awareness and needed change in our schools and society so that future generations of young adults can successfully manifest and grow their own future success.

Can Making Mistakes Enhance One’s Success?

Recent studies have shown that over the past decade a majority of emerging adults continue to suffer from poor financial literacy, a growing trend that shows few signs for improvement. In order for young and emerging adults to be properly prepared to grow, adapt, be successful, and financially independent in this century of uncertainty, there must be a concerted effort now to incorporate personal development into their education and consciousness. It should come as no surprise that most are ill-prepared to become financially independent as the majority of their parents and teachers also lack the needed knowledge to impart this crucial financial information. Beyond the financial information many have missed out on, personal development for many emerging adults has also been hindered because they were taught to only ask, “how” and not, “why.” This has resulted in a world of “how” for them — “Just tell me how to get the job” or “how to make money” or “how to do this and I will just do it.” The “how” approach to thinking epitomizes status quo! There is no creativity in how.

As I have mentioned in several of my blogs, unfortunately young and emerging adults today have not been encouraged to ask “why”, which has affected their personal development. Many changes over the years have conspired to cripple our youths’ ability to think theoretically. Specifically, standardized testing and lack of foundational education (financial, self-esteem, time-management, etc.) by teachers and parents, along with society in general, have established that the only approach to thinking that’s necessary is a practical approach.

As a result, most practically minded young and emerging adults have simply become programmed to avoid mistakes or refrain from trying something new in their pursuits to “just get it done.” They are rarely encouraged to think creatively in new and different ways—“outside the box.”  One teacher explained to Alina Tugend, author of the New York Times article, “The Roles of Mistakes in the Classroom,” that young children have become “victims of excellence.” In her book, Better By Mistake: The Unexpected Benefits of Being Wrong, Tugend shares some enlightening research on the crucial role parents play in how their children learn and what messages they take away about mistakes. Not only did these adults do a disservice to this generation by unintentionally failing to disclose needed financial information, but these parents also fostered a fear of making mistakes within their children.

The generational backlash from the parents in being overprotective of their children was created by their own laissez faire, hands off, “latch key” upbringing. Consequently, swearing years later that “they’d do better with their own children,” this older generation has ruthlessly hovered over their children’s experiences and problems in an attempt to shelter them from life’s pains and struggles. In reality, the major outcome of their overprotective behavior has been the crippling of their child’s ability to develop tools for handling and managing life’s inherent struggles. Therein lies the irony: the biggest mistake these parents have made is the mistake of not teaching their kids that it is okay to make mistakes!

Today, these “Helicopter Parents” find themselves in financial and personal turmoil, largely due to a lack of financial knowledge and planning created by their own teachers and parents before them. These challenges were largely created by the current economic and social changes brought on by a new era of technological globalization. Is it any wonder why young and emerging adults are choosing to question and challenge the unsustainable lifestyles they were raised to believe they’d inherit in light of the societal shifts created by rapid technological advances and a constant state of change and urgency?

Young and emerging adults have been perceived as possessing “high-maintenance” and “entitled” attitudes by the very generations (Boomers and Xers) that have raised them to believe that they could get whatever they wanted. According to Bruce Tulgan, author of Not Everyone Gets A Trophy: How to Manage Generation Y, employers in today’s workplace believe that young adults are now harder to recruit, retain, and motivate than previous generations who entered the workforce before them. Tulgan adds, “They walk in the door day one with very high expectations. They walk into the workplace thinking they know more than they know, and they don’t want to pay their dues and climb the ladder.”

When I was a young adult growing up in the 1970s, life was always fair—winners received trophies and losers gained important insights from their mistakes. Mistakes allow people to look at new challenges in different ways and then draw their own conclusions from the lessons learned. To break the cycle of crippling entitlement, “Helicopter Parents” would raise more empowered adults if they stopped teaching their children that they can’t make it in life without them, or that they are too helpless to figure things out on their own. It’s time for these parents to let go and let their children live life on their own terms.

In my new book, Demystifying Success: Success Tools and Secrets They Don’t Teach You in High School, I endeavor to fill in the educational gaps for young and emerging adults (and their “Helicopter Parents”) by proactively educating them not to be afraid to ask “why”. My goal is for young adults to seek theoretically-driven outcomes that foster creativity and empower them to continually find new or improved ways to produce their desired results—while not letting fear get the best of them. I believe that if you have a group of young, confident adults who are not afraid to ask “why” because they are either not worried about  the response they are going to get back or that somebody will think they are stupid by asking “why,” they will be much more likely to be successful in their lives.

“A man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else.” ~ John Burroughs

I invite you to ask me questions here at [email protected] if you are an admitted “Helicopter Parent” who is either afraid to let go or not sure how to—or if you are the child of one of these parents who wants to find ways to help your parent let go of you. I also invite young and emerging adults to inquire further about the “power of why”, as well as my T.I.M.E. (Timing, Intentions, Motivation and Empowerment) Model toward growing your future success.

 

Keep Your Life Simple. Fill It with Knowledge, not Stuff

The other day I received a somewhat panicked phone call from a close friend. She asked if I wouldn’t mind providing her son who is graduating from college in May with some sound personal and financial advice before he leaves his so-called “bubble” (e.g., his college campus). She has been reading my blogs lately, and she is very concerned that her son did not acquire the necessary tools and resources needed to pursue his desired outcomes during his college years. Even more so, she is concerned about his capacity to succeed and live a happy life as a result.

My friend is not wrong. I am continuously mystified by the lack of attention, detail and pride many people have nowadays for their jobs and lives. I read a great quote from Warren Buffett recently that said, “The most important thing to invest in is yourself. Very few people get the horsepower out of their life that they possess. Just imagine you’re 16 and I was going to give you any car you wanted-but with only one catch: it’s the only car you’ll get, has to last you the rest of your life. How would you treat it?”

We are all living in the greatest technological era, where information is more available and abundant than ever. So why, for a country that prides itself on its technological and educational advances, are so many of these adults in such financial chaos? I believe it is because most adults were never taught from an early age to educate themselves financially, and now, as a result, they suffer from what I like to call financial obesity: one’s obsessive and self-sabotaging need to constantly overspend and remain financially unhealthy. Like the overweight, these unaware adults spend money in the same way unhappy and unhealthy people eat.

Back in the 1960s, cigarette companies were forced to start placing health warnings on cigarette packaging in order to intentionally inform the public of the risks and unhealthy consequences that could result from smoking. Yet, despite the medical evidence, people continue to ignore the health risks and smoke anyway.

Consider today your financial health warning: failure to educate yourself on the potentially devastating effects caused by financial obesity may impact your future financial well-being. I already know that, despite my repeated warnings, several of you will continue to take financial risks that will ultimately sabotage your greatest asset: YOU!

In order to avoid the very pitfalls and repetitive patterns associated with financial obesity, as young and emerging adults between the ages of 16-25, you need to begin asking yourself now, “Who am I really?” If you are a graduating college senior and you still cannot answer this question, all hope is not lost! Like Warren Buffett said, YOU are your own greatest asset! Not your car, your great looks, your G.P.A., your parents, or family name. None of these are as valuable as YOU are, including your opportunity to choose right here and right now to start making smart, probable choices that align well with your core values and desired future outcomes.

In my upcoming book, Growing Success: A Young Adult’s Guide to Personal and Financial Success, I spend a lot of time proactively educating young and emerging adults on not only the importance of financial education, but also on the important concepts, resources, and tools, such as my T.I.M.E. model (Timing, Intentions, Motivation and Empowerment), to help high school and college students enhance their knowledge and confidence in the areas of personal finance, decision-making, and most importantly, personal development before they graduate so they can properly build their personal and financial success.

So, here is the advice that I gave my friend’s son the other night: Keep your life simple. Fill it with knowledge, not stuff. Your ability to write and communicate well with others, especially potential employers, is essential. Make sure that you take some courses on speaking and writing (text messages and emails do not count as writing). That way, you will be prepared for any potential opportunity that may arise. Toastmasters International or Dale Carnegie training courses can provide you with speaking experience and also, simultaneously, support you with becoming more comfortable when you speak in front of others. My additional advice included the suggestion to seek out role models that you can start emulating. Figure out what they do, and how they got that way. Understand why you admire them and why you would select them as role models for you. The sooner you figure out “who you really are,” the sooner you will become a great subject matter expert of your own life.

“We make such messes in this life, both accidently and on purpose. But wiping the surface clean doesn’t really make anything any neater. It just masks what is below. It’s only when you really dig deep, go underground, that you can see who you are really are.” ~ Sarah Dessen

My simple suggestion for those of you who are in a similar position as my friend’s son and getting ready to graduate from college: do not follow the generations before you that unknowingly or foolishly compromised, blamed others, or enabled themselves to make bad decisions either out of laziness or pure ignorance. You can be different! Start surrounding yourself with positive people today, those who you can learn from and who can help you get where you want to go.

You have just received your first “financial health warning,” one that is intended to help you grow your success.

Growing Success as an Emerging Adult

In 2005, Gallup surveyed 13- to 17-year-olds and asked them what they are most afraid of? “Fear of failure or of not succeeding in life” was listed as number four, after terrorism, spiders and death. “Making mistakes that will mess up my life”; “not being successful”; “not measuring up”; “not getting into a good college”; “I’ll close doors on myself and find myself in a position where I can’t succeed because of something I’m doing right now”; “fear of failing in life in general — not achieving the goals I have set for myself” and “not leaving a mark” were the biggest concerns expressed by the teens that participated.

In 1996 when I was 32 years old, I decided to email President Bill Clinton at the White House about the four core subjects that I believed should be taught in every high school that would help address the majority of these teenagers’ fears.  Shortly thereafter, I received a response letter back from the President thanking me for my suggestions. Unfortunately, nothing became of it. Then in 2008, when the economy almost went into another financial depression, I began to realize the underlying reason why so many adults between the ages of 40 and 60 are in such economic chaos, and I began following my passion for speaking and educating young and “Emerging Adults,” ages 16-25, in the areas of personal and financial success.

 Dr. Jeffrey Arnett, Research Professor at Clark University (Worchester, Massachusetts), describes this demographic (Emerging Adults) as the period between 18 and 25 years of age where adolescents become more independent and explore various life possibilities. Arnett said in 2006 that given some emerging adults’ struggles, he sees the need for greatly expanded societal efforts to help them navigate the transition into careers and family. He believes such efforts would pay off, given the self-awareness people develop in their 20s and their willingness to change. “If you provide them with resources, they’re much more likely to say, “How can I improve my life?” At that time, he hoped that his book, Emerging Adults in America: Coming of Age in the 21st Century, would build a community of scholars devoted to studying the “emerging adult” period of development.

As Founding President of the Society for the Study of Emerging Adulthood (SSEA.org), Arnett is focused on finding theories and encouraging research related to emerging adults (ages 18 – 29 years). The primary goal of the Society is to advance the understanding of development in emerging adulthood through scholarship, education, training, policy and practice.

In July 2012, USA Today reported that Clark University commissioned a national survey for adults ages 18-29 (dubbed emerging adults) as part of an ongoing study, and the top two answers to the question asked in the survey about what respondents felt was the MOST important factor for becoming an adult were accepting responsibility for yourself and becoming financially independent. The cost of financial illiteracy was the topic of another USA TODAY article in April 2012, which stated that studies show that a majority of young people in the United States have poor financial literacy, a trend that has been consistent over the past decade and shows few signs of improving. In this article, Annamaria Lusardi, an economics and accountancy professor and director of the financial literacy center at George Washington University, said, “If we live in a world where people are in charge of their own financial well-being … we have to equip people to deal with this individual responsibility.”

Steven Bahls, President of Augustana College believes that colleges and universities should do a better job in providing “more education about financial literacy and the practical aspects of living in today’s world.”  In his 2011 Inside Higher Ed article, “Time to Teach Financial Literacy,” he revealed insights he gained from conversations with graduates who confided their frustrating lack of ‘real-world’ financial knowledge. “Our graduates can’t create wealth and jobs if they don’t have the ability to balance a checkbook, or the skills to hold a job.”

In my new book, Demystifying Success: Success Tools and Secrets They Don’t Teach You in High School, I inspire and motivate Emerging Adults to help them not only pursue their life-long goals on their own terms, but also to define a practical approach to understanding the purpose behind what will manifest their future success. The book is intended to educate young and Emerging Adults, as well as adults of all ages, about the secrets of concrete personal goals/plans, which will allow them to become one of the fortune 10% of the population who understand solid financial habits.

This past January, I appeared as a contributing co-author alongside Deepak Chopra and Suzi Pomerantz in the #1 international best-selling book, Ready, Aim, Captivate: Put Magic In Your Message and a Fortune in Your Future. In my chapter interview, I discuss the personal and professional challenges that I had to overcome as I rose to the top of my professional field. I also shared how I created my speaking platform for the next generation of young and Emerging Adults including tools and resources to help them manage their fears while also taking the necessary action steps needed to successfully accomplish their goals.

As a member of SSEA, I am looking forward to joining Jeffrey, Steven and the rest of the Society in educating emerging adults to become more successful by providing them with the resources and tools (such as my T.I.M.E. model) to grow their success.

How to Co-Exist with Emotional Parasites—A Cultural Epidemic

A lot of my blog readers have been reaching out to me and asking me to further explain my definition of “emotional parasites.” They ask me how they can identify who these potentially disruptive people are. The more important question they should be asking is how and why they are so harmful to one’s success.

How does one identify and protect oneself from these so-called predators? Like colds or viruses, people tend to attract these types of “parasites” (e.g. emotional vampires) when their self-esteem or emotional guards are down. Like a magnet, we tend to attract those individuals that seem more than willing to aid in our self-loathing rather than challenge us to get out of our own way. The boggled and debauched, as I liked to call them, are unhealthy, dysfunctional people that often intentionally or unknowingly manipulate or use others for their own personal entertainment or distraction. These people tend to deflect their own negative self-worth rather than deal with their own self-sabotaging issues. They often pretend to be concerned or supportive of an unsuspecting victim’s uncertain or negative circumstance, but, in reality, they silently gain satisfaction and enjoyment by disclaiming and intentionally diminishing the success, spirit or character of their unsuspecting target.

To make matters worse, these emotional parasites will even go as far as making their victims feel guilty, and even responsible for their needs, playing on their guilt or misguided loyalties. I cannot begin to tell you how emotionally debilitating these cowardly people can be. They rarely own their own crap. They rarely apologize when wrong, and most importantly, they rarely respect YOUR needs, goals or requests unless it somehow benefits their own short-term purposes.

“When you say ‘yes’ to others, make sure you are not saying ‘no’ to yourself.” ~ Paulo Coehlo

Like anything important in your life, you always need to weigh the pros and cons. This especially holds true regarding the people you choose to include in your life. As I said earlier, the emotional parasites often tend to strike when you are most susceptible so I want to share three different scenarios that I have experienced that may make you more aware in the future:

1. The Bait and Switch – Unfortunately, there are individuals you will come across that have become master manipulators.  They study you and learn very quickly how to make you feel comfortable in their presence. They often tell you what you want to hear, pretend to like the things you like, or worse, create a false sense of security so that you take their bait. The only problem is…their actions are not sustainable over time because they are not being authentic to who they are. They are simply trying to get you to befriend them or, even worse, fall in love with them. NEWS FLASH: These manipulators have an agenda! So, you need to put their words on mute and study their actions. If you ask them questions and they become defensive, clearly you have unearthed a chink in their deceptive armor.  If this uncomfortable moment occurs, do not apologize; just continue to trust your instincts, keep your eyes open and be aware of any future inconsistencies.

2. Dismissive of needs – Recently, I witnessed a good friend of mine who reached out to a group of so-called friends requesting space and time to re-collect his thoughts while going through his tunnel of transformation. In the past, my friend had hit some tough times and these same so-called friends gleefully cheered him on by supporting his bad decisions and choices simply because it fueled their own unfulfilled needs. Yet, when my friend finally figured out that his choices were no longer productive in helping him find his success, he decided once again to reach out to these same so-called friends for support and understanding. Lo and behold, some actually became irate and dismissive with him because he changed his mind about how he had been leading his life—the same life they had been cheering him on with because it fulfilled their needs, not his.

3. Defensiveness (yeah, but you did this…) The last red flag that I would like to bring to your attention is a parasite’s failure to apologize.  Have you ever noticed when you call someone out on something you did not like, rather than receiving a simple apology from that person, you get a defensive response? It is almost like they are pissed off that you called them out on their agenda. In any healthy relationship, there are going to be times when you intentionally or unintentionally do something that upsets or hurts the other person. At this time, the correct response is to own and acknowledge your actions and not use it as yet another opportunity to point out an additional flaw or weakness because someone made you feel uncomfortable.

At the end of the day, an emotional parasite is simply projecting their fears. A successful person learns to manage their fears, as well as their relationships. As I share in my upcoming book, Growing Success: A Young Adult’s Guide to Achieving Personal and Financial Success, there are several reasons why successful people learn how to protect and cultivate healthy relationships and, at the same time, navigate around unhealthy people in order to achieve their desired outcomes.

I am hoping that the information and clarification I have provided in this post will allow you to recognize the warning signs early so that you can continue to grow your success.

Have Nerds Become the New Cool in the 21st Century?

I was recently lecturing to a class of students at Indiana University when it suddenly dawned on me: are Nerds really becoming the new cool for the 21st Century? During my lecture, I kept referring to one’s need to be self-aware, which I believe is crucial for enhancing one’s chances for success.

Unlike “Cools”, Nerds tend to be more authentic to themselves. They are not as concerned about what people think. They are more focused on how they choose to present themselves to others. Their intelligence and skills (e.g. abilities), not their fashion, dictate their identities.

Nerds pay attention to the details! They are not afraid to ask “why”. In fact, Nerds thrive on understandingthe why and occupy themselves with challenging the status quo, especially if something no longer makes sense, or even worse, becomes obsolete. “Cools” are way too concerned about “how” something will be perceived or “how” they will continue to “keep up with the Jones.” As a result, the “Cools” waste a lot of unnecessary energy trying to impress others, or even worse, trying to attract superficial professional and personal relationships that they cannot cultivate because they are constantly trying to maintain or improve their status or image instead of learning about the new things Nerds are already plugged into.

Nerds, on the other hand, attract like-minded people and choose to participate in groups and clubs because of common goals and a shared purpose. As a result, Nerds inspire and support each others’ successes.  They seek deeper meaning and connection with others, while at the same time, growing their network of potential employers, employees and business partners.

Nerds commit, they plan, and quite often execute their visions and goals, which is why so-many “Nerds” continue to attain such success within this new century of uncertainty.  They succeed because they choose to plan and thrive to be distinct. In his book, What They Don’t Teach You in the Harvard Business School, Mark McCormack asks why only 3% of all the Harvard MBAs make ten times as much as the remaining 97% combined. From his research he surmised that having clear, written goals for the future and creating plans to accomplish them was truly the underlying formula for their success.

In 1979, interviewers spoke with new graduates from the Harvard’s MBA Program and concluded:

  • 84% had no specific goals at all
  • 13% had goals but they were not committed to paper
  • 3% had clear, written goals and plans to accomplish them

In 1989, interviewers once again spoke with Harvard MBA graduates and:

  • The 13% of the class who had goals were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84 percent who had no goals at all.
  • Even more staggering – the three percent who had clear, written goals were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97 percent put together.

In my upcoming book, Growing Success: A Young Adult’s Guide for Achieving Personal and Financial Success, I discuss several tools and models that address planning and goal-setting, as well as awareness and good decision-making, which are imperative for enhancing one’s probable outcomes for success.

Look around and take notice! Nerds HAVE become the new cool. Just ask Sheldon, Leonard, Howard and Raj, the cast of the hit television series, The Big Bang Theory. The cast and writers have made being nerdy cool.

So the next time you find yourself sitting next to a so-called “Nerd” in class, you better befriend him or her quickly because there is going to be a good chance that in next 10-20 years they will become your star employee, partner or BOSS.

As for me, I simply choose to embrace my inner “Cool Nerd” and continue to dedicate my time to helping you grow your success.

T.I.M.E. for Success

With the New Year quickly approaching, many of you are probably asking yourselves, “Where did all the time go?” Others like to say, “Time is short”, “Time is money”, “Time heals all wounds”, “The time is now to help” but most importantly, time is the only thing you can never get back! Cars, houses, money, and jobs are all replaceable. That is why time should never be taking for granted or squandered, as I explain in my new book Demystifying Success: Success Tools and Secrets They Don’t Teach You in High School.

Throughout the book, I provide young adults with compelling theoretical and practical knowledge that reinforces why it’s now T.I.M.E. (Timing, Intentions, Motivation and Empowerment) for Success.

Timing, which I also refer to as identifying opportunities, is something that I recently discussed in my blog Sliding Doors for Success. To become successful, you need to always enhance your awareness of potential opportunities that may directly or indirectly align with your path. To help ensure that you take advantage of such opportunities, you need to take the time to really focus on what you want to achieve or accomplish in both the short and long term. Recognizing your passions, desires and goals from a young age will help you to distinguish and align potential opportunities that will enhance your outcomes for success.

Intentions help you to reinforce why you are pursuing such passions, desires and goals, which also serves to confirm your ability to spot opportunities whenever they arise.  As I discuss in my blog Success Is Never Being Afraid to Ask Why!, most people today simply live life in a world of “how”. “Just tell me how to get the job” or “how do I make money?” or “tell me how to do this and I will just do it.” “How” is the ‘poster-word’ for status quo! There is no creativity in how. “Why” empowers an individual with the confidence and creativity to challenge the status quo and go beyond the “how”. In my experience, truly successful people always go the extra mile to figure out the “why” because it enables them to consistently recreate their successes over and over again.

Motivation represents the action behind the success. It is the process of aligning internal passions, desires and goals with external resources (mentors, knowledge, financing, etc.) in order to achieve the desired outcomes for success.  Many successful people often create what author Napoleon Hill describes in his book, Think and Grow Rich, as Masterminds, a group of hand-picked individuals that provide advice, support and even financial resources that help enhance one’s chances for success.  In the article, Five Secrets for Growing Success, that you can receive for free when you sign up for my newsletter, through my website, LarryMJacobson.com, I explain why successful people often turn to mentors or others in times of uncertainty or despair. Your mastermind can be a combination of both mentors and/or others (e.g. accountants, lawyers, etc.) that serve as excellent role models and/or sounding boards. They not only model the way for your potential success, but they also serve as great resources for information and advice. Their input can help you to choose the appropriate action steps to take to achieve your short-term and/or long-term success.

Empowerment is what I like to refer to as one’s ability to confidently trust their instincts to ensure that their decisions positively impact their desired expectations and probable outcomes for success. Too often, people get swayed by various negative or unsupportive comments made by others despite what their own instincts might be telling them to do. They often allow others to ‘get inside their heads’ and thus, overthink, or even worse, predict or forecast how others might respond or react to their decisions or ideas. Unfortunately, these people rarely proceed as they initially intended, either out of fear of another’s reaction, or even worse, to appease the other person at their own expense.

“We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort.” ~ Jesse Owens

Successful people “go for it!” They check their fears at the door. They trust their instincts by spotting the opportunities and then re-affirm their intentions to motivate and empower themselves to take the necessary actions steps. As a result, they make necessary decisions that lead to probable (not possible) outcomes for success. To quote the legendary rock band The Rolling Stones, “Time Is on Your Side”. The sooner you begin to incorporate these concepts of t.i.m.e. into your strategic life planning, the sooner you will begin to grow your success.

 

Can an Iced Tea Really Impact Your Overall Success?

I know this may sound really silly or petty, but I was recently in a restaurant and asked my server to bring me an iced tea with no lemon. A few minutes later, she returned with my iced tea and, sure enough, there was a wedge of lemon floating on the top of it.

For a moment, I replayed the conversation I just had with my server – less than five minutes ago – to determine if I had omitted the fact that I did not want a slice of lemon in my iced tea. The simple realization I made was that either the server failed to communicate my request to omit the lemon from my iced tea when she placed my order, or she failed to recognize that the preparer added the lemon despite both of our requests. Needless to say, the server was wrong because she was unaware of the error, not to mention that she may have even ignored it herself if she was the one who prepared it.

A couple of days later, I was sitting in the airport in LA and I stopped in one of those airport restaurant/pubs. I decided to order a cheeseburger with bacon and no cheese, which was a custom order because only cheeseburgers appeared on their menu. When the server finally brought over my food, there was no bacon as I had requested! Again, was this a failure on the server’s part to request the bacon burger I wanted, or was it her failure to notice that the order she picked up from the kitchen was not prepared as I requested?

These two isolated incidents had really brought the issue of awareness to my attention. In both instances, the servers clearly were not aware that they did not provide me with the orders I had requested. So this brought me to an even bigger realization: can an iced tea really impact your overall success?

If you have ever considered starting your own business or running a major corporation, your long-term success will not only depend on your creativity and advertising, but also on your keen awareness and attention to the details. Your clients’ needs and expectations are paramount to not only your business success but to their ultimate customer satisfaction.  Your mastery of the details will not only be crucial in obtaining and retaining a client’s trust, but your ability to be aware and cognizant of their needs will differentiate you from your competition.

“This is what customers pay us for – to sweat all these details so it’s easy and pleasant for them to use our computers. We’re supposed to be really good at this. That doesn’t mean we don’t listen to customers, but it’s hard for them to tell you what they want when they’ve never seen anything remotely like it.” – Steve Jobs, CEO Apple Corp, Inc.

So the next time you are in a position to assist someone, regardless of the task at hand, take that extra moment to really listen to what they are asking of you. Equally important, evaluate whether or not you have successfully provided them with their desired outcome. Not only will your efforts potentially sweeten a well-deserved tip, it could be the very thing that ultimately differentiates you from so many unaware individuals that will never ‘get it’ nor really understand why they are unable to achieve the success they desire.

You know, all this writing has made me a little thirsty. I would love an iced tea with no lemon, please.