Just a quick update on what I have been reading in 2015.

In my view, leaders are readers and if you are going to lead, then you need to be reading and learning constantly or the world will leave you behind. What are you reading?

 

 

While it is no secret that we need money to survive in today’s world. It is rough going without any, but the old saying is that “Money isn’t everything”. Sometimes that is said by good hearted people who are trying to console someone in a low paying job that they feel stuck in.

In truth though, not every passion can be monetized. The non-profit, church, charity that you love may consume your passion in life, yet not be able to pay you anything or at least not much in monetary compensation.

Sometimes, we just do things because we love them whether we get paid or not. The few lucky of us can turn something that we love into something that pays the bills as well!

Please don’t neglect your passions just because they don’t make you a lot of money. They give you something much more important! That feeling of worth is irreplaceable!

Money isn’t everything. It is important, but don’t let it make you sell out just to make more of it.

 

If you are in the creative side of things –Painting, writing music, blogging, writing books or articles, singing, playing an instrument etc. There are people who will rank you. The institution was all abuzz recently because we were ranked #1 in one category. People like it when they are #1. It is so easy to get caught up though in fighting to fit the matrix used to figure out that #1 spot. Some people or organizations will even change the way they do things to try to move up in the rankings. You might be addicted to checking what rank your book is on amazon, or what rank your website is on alexa, or how many Facebook friends or Twitter followers you have. Why do I know? Because I have been guilty of it. It isn’t all bad to get feedback on how you are doing, but if you start basing your self worth on the number next to your name, there is a problem!

If you cringed at that last line and thought, “that is me” then you might need to cold turkey quit looking at the numbers. In the end, the numbers don’t tell you much about your work. The demographic sales information can be valuable, so can some of the other numbers, but don’t let them equate value.

Reach out to each customer, interact with each client as if you were the top in your field. Make them your priority. Do your very best work. Be YOU! The numbers will come. Consistently being great at what you do and treating each person you come across as if they were the most important person in the world will make you and your organization great!

FYI, to completely contradict myself – If you are ranking the bottom of your industry in customer service or quality of product…you might want to find a new line of work or start working hard to change it.

 

Ok, the title is a lie! There is no network, no social media, no outlet that will get your message out to everyone on the planet.

BUT!

You can reach everyone who matters! You can reach your tribe. You can reach the people who care.

I will use myself as an example. When someone buys a copy of I Choose YOU!, I make about 33 cents. In order to be an average South Carolinian, I would need to sell around 120,000 a year. While that isn’t likely to happen, here is what can happen. You buy one, if for no other reason than you like this blog and you want to support it. You trust my advice. (Hopefully).

On my end, I need to write a few more books….ok, a lot more. IF I reach people who like what I write, and I wrote 10 books, and those people loved buying every book I write, then I would only need to sell 12,000 of each book. I won’t bore you with math, but as the number of products move up, the need for more people moves down.

Having a few thousand people who are sold out fans is much better than having millions of “followers” who never buy your t-shirt, cd, movie, book, song download, etc. You are looking for the people who want to travel to hear you. The people who would wait in line to buy your new release.

When you find those people, engage them! Reach out to them! Those people are worth a lot over a lifetime! Not just monetarily, but in experience. Those people will help you push on to be even more than you are now. When people who have read I Choose YOU! share with me how it has inspired them, it encourages me to want to write more!

Who is the audience that you want to reach? What does that person need? How can you help them? When you answer those questions, you can begin figuring out who should be in the tribe that you will lead. And maybe, you will lead a tribe well enough to make it your career and be able to quit your day job! (Unless of course you love your day job like me…then you might still want to cut back a little on the hours you work it.)

 

I have been working through a bit of a crisis of faith lately. If you follow this blog, then you know that my “day job” is being a Spanish professor at a university in South Carolina. I and the department I am a part of have built a solid B.A. degree program in Spanish. It is honestly a great program and I am proud of our graduates. This brings me to the crisis. For those who don’t want to teach or become missionaries, what are we accomplishing for them? Of course there is the argument that college isn’t about job preparation it is about expanding their minds and teaching them skills like learning to learn or learning to study. The sad truth is though that most students don’t pick up a book after their formal education is finished. When they graduate with $20,000-$80,000 in debt and don’t have a goal or a clue what they want to do, I feel like I have failed them in their education. Some of them do indeed step into great salaries, but we haven’t taught them how to handle money. Are we being ethical as part of the academy in taking their hard earned money or allowing them to take out huge loans knowing that we aren’t really preparing them for the current job market. It is no longer the 1950’s. Having a B.A. is no longer the golden ticket to a solid career where they will make more than their contemporaries who only have a High School diploma.

Before you get too depressed, I do have graduates who are making over $100,000 a year. The point is though that we as academics should be helping our students with life skills more than we are. I saw recently a graduate who is making six figures, but is broke. We somehow failed him in teaching him some basics about debt, interest payments, budgeting, proper investing skills. I believe that one of the reasons we have failed in this department is that many in academia are also quite bad in this department. Many of my co-workers are lousy at preparing for retirement. They may be brilliant historians or literature geniuses or have vast knowledge of political science, but they don’t understand that if they don’t invest money now, they will be living off social security (if they are lucky) and working until they are 80 because they won’t be able to retire. Yes, those indeed are people teaching the youth, so it is no doubt that they aren’t imparting life skills wisdom to their students.

So, you are reading this blog and wondering what YOU can do to help me out here. Maybe you are in the academy, maybe you aren’t. YOU can help. Here are some ways.

  • Become a life long student yourself. A student of life.
  • Learn about money.
  • Mentor other’s who are just starting out in life. Take ONE, just ONE student under your wings and make a difference for that young person.
  • If you are in the education field, begin pushing for financial literacy in ALL disciplines.
  • Encourage students to move toward a specific life goal.
  • And this last one brings us to the title of this post…

What if you drop out of college?

 

Not all dropouts are failures. IF they have a specific goal and are on a path toward that goal when they drop out, then that is a laudable decision. YES you heard me right, it is a laudable goal. I encourage it! I have encouraged students from time to time that maybe right now isn’t the time for them to be in college. They have a passion and goal that doesn’t seem congruent with the formal study schedule of the university. I am not suggesting that dropping out to flip burgers and move back in with Mom & Dad is a good idea. I AM suggesting that if a student has a great idea and the passion to pursue that idea that it might be much more beneficial for them to drop out and give that goal a honest shot instead of the 1/2 shot they could give it with their extra time while trying to continue as a full time student.

I hope you will help me get the word out that the university isn’t for everyone. It isn’t a magic ticket. It IS a great place to help you accomplish your dreams…if you have a dream and know that the university is part of the path to get you there. I don’t want a surgeon who watched a Youtube video about surgery and hung out his shingle. There are careers for which formal education seems to be a solid part of the preparation. For others though, finding a great mentor and getting started with their idea might just be a lot more savvy option. Feel free to e-mail me with comments, thoughts or suggestions: burl@burlwalker.com (I do answer my own e-mail.) If you are in the world of education and don’t want your name used in any followup posts for fear of backlash from your superiors, just let me know and I promise to keep your name confidential.

 

 
Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.