Archive for November, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

“Rich” Is Not a Career

 justsadkid 300x300 Rich Is Not a Career

ok i’m over my Obama high.  now back to business.

A while back, I was watching that show “I Want to Work for Diddy” when I made an observation about the contestants.



OK, OK maybe its just me but before I go any further, I feel the need to explain exactly why I was watching I want To Work For Diddy.  Its almost like Housewives.  You know those shows that you like to watch so you can just complain how bad they are?  Its like the Maury paternity shows—you watch and shake your head in disgust, but you watch. Plus it gives me great material to write about.  BUT I can only get through a few episodes of these shows before I lose interest and it becomes too bad, even for me.

Anyway, much like the beginning of every reality show that involves trying to get a job with some celebrity, the show begins with the various candidates explaining why they want to work for Diddy.  One guy said that from the time he was a child he knew he wanted to be rich.  He didn’t know how he was going to do it, but he wanted to be rich.  And everyone’s aspirations were similar in that regard.  They wanted to be successful, working for Diddy would open doors for them, or they wanted to be in the entertainment business and this was a way to do it.  Sure, these reasons sound very benign on the surface but upon closer examination it reveals a major flaw that has developed in the American Dream.

None of the candidates had a particular CAREER they were interested in.  None of them had a position that they had their eye on.  None of them had been working since an early age towards a specific goal.  They didnt see this show as a stepping stone on a path towards their aspirations.  The show WAS their aspiration.    




These folks saw this show as a “shortcut” on the road to success.  We live in this American Idol paradigm of success.  Forget interning, working for free and doing grunt work.  Forget working hard, setting goals and planning out a path for your life.  We’ve reduced success to “a big break.”  That one thing that comes along and changes everything.

I hear so many young people who, when asked what they want to do with their lives, respond “I want to be in the entertainment business.”  What exactly does that mean?  “I want to be a mogul and own a lot of companies.”  “I want to be rich.”  Yet, when pressed about specifics, they really have no clue as to what they want or how they propose to get it.

Being a multi-media mogul is a fantastic goal however, regardless of what it may seem like on TV, it just doesn’t happen.  You don’t win it on a show.  You don’t stumble upon it.  It doesn’t happen by accident.  So many of our younger generation seems to think that success is just something that just happens to them.  The result of a lucky alignment of the stars.  Any moment something will happen hat changes everything.  And for that reason, so many young people grow up with dreams but no plan.

You never hear someone say, I plan to go to college, get an MBA and then start my own company managing talent.  THAT’S a goal, that’s a career, that’s a plan.

Even if you want to be a barber or stylist and open up a shop, get a business plan, learn something about the biz you are going into before you open a shop or store.  Whether its a hair salon, clothing store, or restaurant, Im so tired of seeing small businesses open in the community only to clothes a few months later because no one knew what the hell they were doing.  You know the restaurant that never has shit, the corner store that is always out of everything and the prices are twice the market average and the cleaners that open whenever they feel like it.  And then want to complain about how noone supports your business.  Maybe its because your business is some bullshit.

  If you dont know what you’re doing,  work with someone who does.  Your cousin from the post office is not a business manager.  Get a solid business plan, perfect your craft and take advice.  Success never just happens.

I meet so many people who have no direction for their lives, no real goals, no real strategy.  Its like many of us just wait for something to happen to us.  Just like you cant just start a business and pray people patronize it, you cant just go through life thinking riches are going to fall out of the sky.

Now don’t get me wrong many of us aren’t quite sure what we want to do. I certainly took a long time finding myself and still don’t know if I’ve found me yet.  However, I positioned myself so when I did finally decide what I wanted to do, I would be well prepared.  Education is the key to excelling no matter what field you want to enter.  And it doenst always have to be higher education.  Having an apprenticeship, internship, continuing education class or simply a mentor can prepare you to enter a career with something more than dreams of success.

For example, although Im still waiting for Denzel Washington to sweep my off my feet, I still signed up for E-Harmony just in case.  Get it?

You can’t work towards a goal if you don’t have one.  We spend more time positioning ourselves for the sudden break, than we do getting educated, interning, learning the field, working hard and paying dues.  Dues?  This generation has no concept of dues. As much of an annoying narcissist as he is, Puffy paid his dues.  He started as an intern and worked his way up, learning the business inside out on the way.  As sickeningly perfect as Beyonce is, she had to bust her ass on the chitlin circuit and work extremely hard for a long time before she “made it”.  All the while she is perfecting her craft.  There was no American Idol to insure instant fame, there was no reality show to make stars out of thin air.

But we are so inundated with this Soulja Boy, reality TV, American Idol paradigm of success that we forget how most of the people at the very top really got there.  By knowing what they wanted and working their asses off to get it. 

So the next time you hear that dreaded phrase, “I want to be in the entertainment industry” ask what that means? Do you want to be a costume designer, actress, make up artist, director of photography, stylist, set designer, agent, A & R or what?  Next time you hear “I want to be a mogul.”  Ask, well what does hat mean exactly and what are you doing to train yourself to enter the business world?  Next time you hear “I just want to be rich.”  Ask, how do you plan on getting rich and what steps are you taking toward that plan?  Being on “Cribs” is not a career plan, designing them is.  You cant work towards a goal if you don’t have one. 

Only when you identify a field, positon, career you are interested in, can you start to design and implement a plan for your life.  There’s nothing wrong with dreaming.  But dreams coupled with inaction virtually guarantees that your dreams will remain just that.  Dreams.

  And when all you have are dreams and no plan, you begin to do things to substitute for those dreams coming true.  Like buying a house you cant afford, like racking up credit card debt.  If you haven’t realized all those dreams you’ve had, at least you can look like you have.  A big house and fancy cars should not be goals, they should be the result of you having reached your goals.

So lets challenge each other to dream big, but also plan big and act big.  Although the media makes us think that success is easy, that its something that just falls out of the sky, nothing can be further from the truth.  Whatever stage of life you are in, you should always have a plan for success. And in this global age it is more important than ever that we encourage our young people to have a plans and goals for their careers.  Even if they change 10 times, at least they are making forward progress and not just mired in a bunch of useless dreams of big cars and big houses and fancy clothes.  As so many of those with bad ARM loans know, a house can be taken from you.   Education and skills and a plan for success are forever.

What happens to a dream deferred?  I don’t know and I’m not trying to find out.

Peace people.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


first family YES WE DID.