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Fri 23 August 2019
The concept of networking is kind of like the concept of riding the biggest, scariest roller coaster at an amusement park. Engaging a stranger in initial conversation is kind of like the part of the roller coaster where you are being carried up and all you hear is the “clunk clink clunk clink clunk clink” of the belt carrying the roller coaster to the climax. It is similar because you are nervous for what will happen next. You have no clue how that person will react from you approaching them just like you have no clue how you will feel once hitting that huge drop on the roller coaster. For the most part, you will end up satisfied and happy that you reached out to that stranger because you not only proved something to yourself that you could do it, but you learned something new or made a new connection from doing so. Occasionally you will end up with a headache at the end (similar to a rusty old wooden roller coaster) because the stranger you reached out to is annoying and won’t stop talking about something you are not interested in. But never will you end up with a negative outcome from networking.


Networking leads to careers, business partnerships, and friendships. These seem like outcomes people would seek in their lives, but why do most young professionals and college students employ networking only during times of desperation? To prove my point, think about the first two weeks of college. For the most part, every other freshman you met was super nice and friendly to you. Why? Because they (and you) were desperate for friends in a new and unusual environment. In a professional setting, attending alumni networking events and professional development seminars did not seem very attractive when you were happy in your job, but once the job started to become monotonous and you didn’t see yourself in a future at that company, those networking and development events became more attractive to attend. When you are less desperate to change, you are less likely to network.


This is not to say that all young professionals and college students only network in times of desperation, but a large quantity of us do.


The trick is to look at networking like this: networking is not a transaction. There is no clear outcome of what will occur from taking the time to speak with somebody. Just because a person’s expertise or insight does not interest you now, does not mean that their knowledge is worthless to you. Young professionals and college students know that some of the outcomes from networking include landing careers, business partnerships, and friendships, but those don’t typically stem from the first meeting one has with a stranger. More likely than not, it is a person recommending you to meet someone else that they know. Therefore, as opposed to trying to attempt the home run of landing a job from a stranger you met at a cocktail party, a better tactic could be to just build a positive working relationship where they know about you and what you are looking for and potentially recommending somebody for you to connect with. Recommendations are one of the leading ways people land careers. You can’t receive any recommendations if you don’t go out and network.


In the end, networking is something that should be done all of the time by everyone (especially young professionals and college students). Keeping a keen track of those you are connected with is important because although you may not value a person’s expertise now, you may value it later. Plus, if you are only networking when you are desperate, it is very likely evident to the other person you are speaking with that you are desperate. Those that want to work with desperate people want to work with desperate people because they are likely desperate themselves to work with anyone. It is ironic how desperate people attract other desperate people because desperate people are the last types of people a desperate person is trying to attract.

Fri 16 August 2019
A goal without a plan is a wish. Is this common sentiment true? Is it impossible for us to achieve a goal that we never planned for?


The ability to set goals equates to an ability to possess control of the outcomes of your situation.


If you are in a job and think to yourself “I hate this job and would be more than willing to accept an offer from another company” but don’t do anything to get an offer from another company, how do you really expect to get another job? Your complaint falls on deaf ears. I have interviewed roughly 100 recent graduates in the past year that are seeking new jobs and about half of them aren’t doing anything to actually “seek” a job. In fact, the closest they got to “seeking” a job was telling me in that interview that they were probably seeking for a new job. I then follow up to ask them “how long have you felt this way?” and the response is typically at least a month to sometimes at least a year.


Why? Your career is typically one of the most prominent sources of professional aspirations. Why are young professionals so complacent in being unsatisfied? Rather, once they realize they are unsatisfied, why is there not a process of setting and achieving goals to get out of that unsatisfaction?


Actually seeking a new career is hard, takes time, and typically isn’t fun. The irony of getting out of a bad job situation is that you have to work even harder outside of that job to find a new one. The issue is that most people enable themselves to not work as hard outside of their job because of the stress they receive from their job. Then, through some random job opportunity (a friend mentioning it, a random email, etc.), you jump on it like it’s the gold rush without thinking “is this job in fact better than my old job?”


Part of goal setting, especially in a professional environment, requires self-awareness. Working to better understand yourself should be the first plan to achieving any professional goal. Taking the time to write down what you like and don’t like (in this example, in your job) is vital to understanding what your next move will be. This takes time and may even require the help of your peers, close friends, and family to inform you of what you like to do and what your strengths are. This is because sometimes you are so deep into what you are doing (and what you think you should be doing) that you can’t see the forest from the trees. From there you can analyze what jobs you think you might like and then reach out to people actually doing those jobs (LinkedIn is great for this) to get better insight on what the job is like. When reaching out to those people, don’t ask whether or not they like the job because that depends on their personality and work style and how that meshes with their work opportunities. Their work style is completely different from yours so their feelings about the job should be irrelevant to you. Questions like “is the work autonomous or structured?” are better because they are not as subjective.


This is just an example of setting a plan to achieving a goal, but the point is that it pays off to plan and not let things come at you as random happenstance.

Fri 9 August 2019
As humans, we have an inherent drive to be accepted and liked by others. Why? Where does this drive come from and how do humans go about achieving this acceptance? If you don’t believe or aren’t certain humans have an inherent drive to be accepted or liked by others, think about your first day at work. Were you nervous? Did you try to not screw up or ask dumb questions? Did you try to do extra tasks to convey your work ethic? If so, a primary reason you did one, some, or all of those things is because you have an inherent drive to be accepted and liked by others (in this example, your colleagues). The ability to build acceptance with those around you is the ability to build rapport.


Up until about the mid-1990’s, the only way to gain this acceptance was through your actions with others and how you communicated with others verbally. But in the 1990’s, amazing technological advancements allowed us to communicate and build acceptance from others nonverbally. How convenient? Why attend conferences and meet others in person to convey a message you are trying to get across to many people when you can just as easily write a blog? Why thank somebody in person when you can send them a thank you text just as easily? Technology has allowed us to communicate in ways we never thought possible 30 years ago.


I have interviewed over 1,000 professionals this past year and asked them what skills they think recent college graduates lack after graduation. Far and away the most common answer was recent graduates lack the ability to communicate. But why? With all of the technological know-how and all of the additional forms of communication, how can recent college graduates lack communication skills?


Has technology discouraged us to communicate face to face?


From these responses, yes! Today, you are considered weird and deemed socially awkward if you start a conversation with a stranger without some sort of goal or objective from the conversation. It is almost as if the efficiency that has been provided in technological communication has permeated into social communication. It feels as if physical conversations are a transaction and if the transaction is not apparent to both parties then nothing positive can be gleaned from that conversation.


Is this right? Can society function with purely technological communication and only communicate face to face “when needed”? I don’t think so.

Fri 2 August 2019
What is time management? Is it jotting down notes and writing out what your plans are? Or is it getting that burrito from Chipotle because you are already out and know that you will be hungry in an hour? Or is it separating your work into different topics to help you concentrate?


Technically, all of these are examples of time management. The key with all of these examples, and time management in general, is that it forces you to think of how you will spend your time in the future and what is the best way to allocate that time.


The funny thing about time management is that it takes time. It is like moving one step backward to eventually move four steps forward. This concept of time management has been so elusive to young professionals and recent graduates today because we are very motivated by the short term. We see the “one step backward” and instantly think “screw that! I’ll just go at it head-on.”


Let’s detail an example of this.


You get on your computer and you start checking emails. The first is from your boss in which you respond right away about how you will come into the office an hour early to get started with work because your company is entering the busy season. The next email is spam from JDate/Match.com/Christian Mingle because your dumb friend thought it would be funny to put your email on their subscription list and no matter how many times you try to unsubscribe and mark as spam, their stupid emails still seem to manage to get through. The next email is a LinkedIn update and you decide to check out the feed on LinkedIn, see how your profile views are doing, and maybe update your profile to “I am technically in a job, but am definitely open to hearing any offers because my job sucks!” and then you chuckle to yourself and quickly delete it. You then check your next email and find it is an accepted friend request from an old friend from high school. You scope their Facebook profile hard now that you are friends because before you were “friends” he had more privacy settings than your parents did on their “R rated” channels when you were growing up. You then think “Oh shoot! I can’t believe it has been an hour, I need to get to the office.” You commute the 30 minutes it takes to get to work to find that nobody is there. It turns out that in that hour it took you to check 4 emails, the 5th email was from your boss informing you that there was a fire in the office and he was canceling work for the day and wanted everyone to work remotely from their house.


This is a very elaborate example, but it is real! The person in this example very likely complains how they can never get their work done on time. Their audience will typically suggest “why don’t utilize some time management tactics.” The individual whines back “I don’t have time for time management!”


Hmm…This seems like an ironic statement. If the individual in this example would have planned to check all work emails first and then the rest of his emails, he would have not wasted the hour back and forth from work, he would have had a specific time allocated to checking LinkedIn and Facebook, and he would not be complaining how he can never get his work done.


The key caveat to not utilizing time management tactics is that it takes time to think about how to best utilize your time. The short term benefit of not expending 10 minutes now, for some odd reason, trumps the long term angst of losing 2 hours of productivity later.

Mon 22 July 2019
What is the line between constructive criticism and getting berated? I think that all depends on the listener.


Throughout life, you are going to be offered advice…warranted and unwarranted. How do you handle that advice, especially when it comes in the form of criticism? When you are young and in your teenage years, you are more inclined to rebel and learn for yourself and not want to be told what to do or how you are doing it wrong. When you are old, you feel as if you have had enough life experience to know that what somebody is telling you is not anything new and that you are pretty sure you are right about what you are doing. But there is a sweet spot in the middle, when people are most open to change and taking advice. These are your wisest years because these years allow you to learn from others, try new things, make mistakes, and grow from those mistakes. The longer you can prolong this mentality, the wiser you will be.


I left off my last blog detailing how AIM began connecting students with mentors. Once we started charging students $90 to connect with mentors, we received wild success. Every student received internships, follow up meetings with their mentor, recommendations to meet other professionals in their field or a combination of those outcomes.


It was awesome to feel that AIM was truly making a positive impact on these college students. My only issue was that AIM was not making nearly enough money to sustain a business and I needed to discover a way to make AIM sustainable.


Having the realization and acceptance that your current business plan is unsustainable is not easy to accept. I met with an Indiana University alumnus who was a former investment banker and recruiter for JP Morgan Chase. He ripped my business model apart…to shreds…no mercy. I could have gotten angry and hung up the phone, but I realized there was a silver lining.


First, I learned that most people are not inherently mean and their goal is not to berate you. Second, in every conversation, there is always a nugget of beneficial information that can be learned.


What this alumnus mentioned was that despite mentorship being beneficial, AIM would not be sustainable and that most college graduates entering the business world lacked soft skills and emotional intelligence (which he argued were as important as mentorship). He said that if a company could figure out a way to teach these skills and include a mentoring aspect that JP Morgan Chase and most other companies would be very intrigued in paying money to connect with the students AIM helped.


In essence, I learned a way to monetize AIM outside of the students and not purely that my current business plan sucked. I learned that despite Indiana University’s best efforts to teach soft skills and emotional intelligence, those are just skills that are very personal and difficult to measure with grades. It also requires a certain motivation level and desire of the student to want to learn and develop these skills too.


When these courses that teach soft skills and emotional intelligence are required, the motivation of the student diminishes significantly because they never had a choice of whether or not to take the class.


AIM pivoted to provide students who voluntarily purchased access to enroll in workshops that taught soft skills and emotional intelligence, connected students with mentors, and then with employment opportunities after they understood themselves well enough to gauge a better idea of what they wanted out of their career.


Most people don’t voluntarily try to bring others down. Most people inherently want to help others out because they derive the pleasure of feeling valued and special when they can share their wisdom. Realize that when others are criticizing you, they may have a point, so don’t take it as a personal attack, but rather embrace it, learn from it, and maybe build a positive relationship.

Mon 15 July 2019
Author Walter Brunell once wrote “Failure is the tuition you pay for success.” I like starting my blogs with a quote because…why not commemorate someone else’s instance of brilliance with a citation?


I especially like this quote because it directly relates to how I left off my last blog…turning to Indiana University and falling flat on my face! The combination of failure with a collegiate reference is the perfect storm of irony and truth.


To refresh your memory, the problems I saw were college students taking way too many classes without any clarity on what to major in and college students throwing a random dart at which career to pursue because their major was not giving them clarity on their career. This seems to me like such an obvious problem in student development today that nobody seems to be able to solve.


It feels as if society is a parent and college students are their child and going to college is like dropping your kid in the pool for the first time and watching them flail around aimlessly for breath. Sure, this is fine and cute when you are talking about $20 swim lessons…but when these college “swim lessons” run up your tab to the tune of $20,000+ a semester, it’s not so cute and novel anymore.


The issue is that it feels as if American society has normalized confusion for what a person should do from the ages 18-22. I feel that this confusion should either be less normalized or that college should be cheaper so then the consequences of being confused in college are minimized. With the high cost of getting a college degree, attending college with confusion can be a gamble. Yes, I said it, going to college with confusion can be considered a GAMBLE! Sure, administrators who went to college 20+ years ago may disagree with me because when they went to college A) they could afford to pay for their tuition out of their own pocket (which now seems as if it is impossible to even imagine paying for college without loans, your parents, or scholarship) and B) when you are paying for college (even a little) out of your own pocket, you have skin in the game. This forces you, as the student, to think “wow, am I really ready for college because this is a lot of cash that I am dropping?” This then leads to the clarity of “I am ready for college, I have researched what I am going to major in, and I am pretty confident that I can accomplish my goal of getting a degree in 4 years” or “No, I am not ready. I think I am going to work/travel/soul search for a little bit and then maybe come back to college.”


This is what SHOULD happen in a perfect world. However, the world is not perfect.


REVELATION: All people are different and some people learn and develop at their own pace! And guess what, college is not meant for everyone at age 18…BAZINGA!


So what happens to those 18 year olds that do not know what they want to do entering college?


First, there are more students than advisors. Like significantly more! Imagine 40,000 students to 150 advisors…yikes! Advisors cannot possibly give students the individualized attention that they need to truly make an educated decision on their degree path.


My initial thought to combat this problem was to help college students clarify what their hobbies and interests were and how that could correlate to a major. This was my original idea for Ambition In Motion.


However, at this time I was 21 years old and no parent was going to pay me, a person without any credible accolades, any money to help their child figure out their degree path. It was like “hey, I can help your child figure out their degree path” and the parents saying “have you even figured out your own degree path?…touché”.


I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my degree path and had a good idea of where I would like my career to go and I knew that I had the skills and experience to help their child, but convincing a parent when you are 21 that you can help their child with their degree (to them at least) is like a fish telling us that he convinced a shark not to eat him. It is just tough for the parents to believe it.


Even if I could convince a parent to pay me to help their child out with their degree path, very few students are motivated to participate in something that their parents made them do. “I loved and was super motivated to do that thing my parents forced me to do”…said no one ever.


So how did I handle this failure? I will let you know in my next blog post.


In terms of this blog post title, college really is not meant for everyone, certainly not everyone at age 18. If you are a student, realize that your parents, friends, family, and everyone else in society just wants you to be happy without impeding on their happiness (i.e. on a professional level of pursuing a career/lifestyle that you don’t have to move back in with your parents to things on a personal level like not keeping your neighbors up all night because you want to blast music at 3:00 in the morning). If you are everyone else in society, try to hold back judgment of those who are pursuing their life in a different way than you did, foresee yourself to, or think that everyone else should. Those people who are pursuing the road less traveled should not be chastised and thought of destined for immortal doom because they are not doing it the way everyone else is. We, as society, love to value those who “made it” via the road less traveled, yet, we love to rebuke those who are on a less traveled road whom haven’t quite “made it” to their destination yet.


Let’s support those who are doing things a little differently :).

Mon 24 June 2019
Professor Leonard Bernstein once wrote, “Inspiration is wonderful when it happens, but the writer must develop an approach for the rest of the time.” I kind of feel the opposite of this right now, as if I am not as good of a writer when I AM inspired. I had an epiphany last night to write a blog post for Ambition In Motion (AIM) on how everything began. I woke up this morning super inspired to write…just to write this post and get feedback that it was way too “listy” and “not engaging enough.” So here is my attempt at making this blog post more engaging.


Ambition In Motion (AIM) started in Bloomington, Indiana in May of 2013. Why is this important to you? To be totally honest, because the more specific verbiage I use in my blog posts, the higher the AIM website will pop up when students/employers/mentors/anyone else keyword searches something semi-relevant to AIM in Google. Also, because I thought that you might be interested in how AIM got started. I have been asked a surprisingly many times how AIM got started so I figured that I would convey that story in a blog post.



So I was working with this student organization called CLEAR in Fall of 2012 and Spring of 2013 and I wanted to improve participation. We had some consistent members, but would randomly receive a stark drop in participation and I had no clue why. It is crazy because this would happen in random, yet consistent spurts. Periodically, younger students would take more credit hours because they had no idea what degree they wanted to major. These kids were spending a ridiculous amount of time studying to get good grades, while receiving little clarity on what they wanted their degree to be. SHOCKER ALERT: what you like now as a freshman will change as you get older and the classes that you take as a freshman have little correlation to the classes that you will take as a senior, BOOM! I know that this may read crass and sarcastic (which it is), but sadly, this information is not obvious to everyone. Even worse, the answer to the million dollar question of “what should I major in?” isn’t obvious either.



We also received large drops in participation from the older students who had no clue what career they wanted to pursue. Many of these older students accumulated a bunch of credits in a major area and just decided “well, I guess I will major in this!” without lending any credence to what career they might be interested in pursuing. This is the effect to the cause of “well I guess I should take every 100 level class in every degree area and go from there and accumulate credits in totally random fields so then I can ‘figure it out’”. 2 years later they haven’t figured it out and their parents say “son, I am cutting you off after your 4th year of college…SO FIGURE IT OUT!” The student then freaks out and says “well, I guess I will major in this!” The student’s parents come back to him and ask “so what are you going to do with your life when you graduate? Because you sure aren’t going to be moving back in with us!” The student is like, …gulp…”I don’t know yet but I will be looking for a job.” Students like this then attend every career fair imaginable, treating it like a job buffet and dropping their resume off at every booth.


I saw students taking way too many classes without any clarity and students throwing a random dart at which career to pursue as a problem. NEWS FLASH: Most careers do not have a linear correlation from the perceived career from a certain degree path (i.e. a career as an economist from a degree in economics). I originally started helping incoming college students gain some clarity on which major to choose. I saw this as a good solution because this would help students minimize their student loan debt due to less wasted semesters, have a definitive answer when talking to their parents, and have more time to participate in extracurricular activities like CLEAR. I turned to Indiana University for help in this issue and fell flat on my face.


So what did I end up finding out from Indiana University? I will explain further in my next blog post.


In terms of a response to the title of this blog post, it doesn’t really matter what degree you pursue, because that has no bearing on your career. Believe in yourself and do what makes you happy. Don’t waste your time stressed in classes. College is meant to be a learning experience…so LEARN and don’t stress.

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