Be color brave and achieve on your own

MellodyHobsonMellody Hobson: Be color blind or color brave

Having been a TED viewer for a few years now since Jamie Oliver did his documentaries on school cafeteria food in the U.S., this one struck a cord with me.  It’d definitely worth the 15 minutes to watch the whole thing.  I was overly impressed with her ability to convey what she was thinking in a manner that didn’t cause shock and awkwardness, which she explains during her talk.

A friend has posted this to their Facebook page for a clearly different reason than what the talk is actually about.  Their focus was on the two points in the talk.  The first point was her going to a prestigious talk with a colleague and being mistaken for “the help”.  Their second point was focused on the question “When will it be weird to walk into a corporate board room and see all white men?”; a point that took less than 30 seconds to explain and which they were also totally out of context and off base with their comments.

Here is a woman that has faced adversity her entire life, for many reasons I’m sure.  A few she touched on in the talk.  Despite her having to endure this adversity, she has become a successful woman as a Board Chairperson, one of two in the country of Fortune 500 companies.  I personally don’t find that surprising given that I’ve known for years that hard work, perseverance and determination to get what you want always pays off in the long term.  I’ve also long held the belief that if you’re qualified for a position you have as much a chance as anyone else to receive it.  Nothing other than experience and education should be considered but unfortunately that isn’t the world we live in right now.

Prior to the real world, our children are learning that “everyone wins” and you get as many chances to get it right.  Everyone doesn’t win, its a fact of life.  I grew up with the ideal that few win and many lose.  I’m OK with that, I’m stronger for that.  I’d like to know when that changed so drastically that a millennial will cry and complain when they don’t get a job or their friends are hired before them.  The culture that was pressed into them was one of inclusion and winning, but the real world, approximately 80% of their life, is completely the opposite.  Why are we condoning this kind of teaching to our children?  The children that will be running the country in 20-30 years that we’ll, as pre-seniors, rely upon to make decisions on our behalf.

Bill Gates recently gave a speech at a High School where he gave them 11 rules that weren’t taught to them in school.  These are the same kids that will be looking for jobs and expecting the same type of treatment they had in school.

  1. Life is not fair – get used to it!
  2. The world won’t care about your self-esteem.  The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.
  3. You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school.  You won’t be a vice-president with a mobile phone until you earn both.
  4. If you think your teacher is tough, wait until you get a boss.
  5. Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity.  Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping:  they called it opportunity.
  6. If you mess up, it’s not your parents fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them.
  7. Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now.  They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were.  So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent’s generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.
  8. Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT.  In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer.  This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.
  9. Life is not divided into semesters.  You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF.  Do that on your own time.
  10. Television is NOT real life.  In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to real jobs.
  11. Be nice to nerds.  Chances are you’ll end up working for one.

Tying this all together, Mellody worked her ass off to get to where she is.  She didn’t have to learn any of the rules above because they didn’t apply to her.  Her Mom was the inspiration she needed to just “know” nothing wasn’t within her reach to achieve.  My views on teaching and the school system are the main reason that I do not have a strong relationship with my only brother.  I’m not willing to accept my daughter learning how NOT to be and struggle for years until she learns these life lessons.

I’m about to embark on a new job in a few weeks that I achieved on my own.  No one helped me, no one gave me a pass.  I worked hard, learned tough lessons and most importantly “lost” a hell of a lot before I started winning.  These kids should listen more to people that know better, instead I witness a 20 something check his mobile phone during an interview I’m conducting.  WTH?