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The Resume-builder Must Die!

I move that we kill the "resume-builder."

Or, if that motion doesn’t pass, I move that we start a treatment program for those people sick enough to put themselves through chronic sleep-deprivation, stress that causes them to verbally abuse their friends and family, and horrific unhappiness in the name of thinking the description of that experience will "look good" on a piece of white or cream, 8.5" x 11" piece of paper.

And if that doesn’t work, I move that we punish those people for lying. Because they actually want to description of their experience in sending themselves to hell to "read well," not "look good." Surely this is our best hope, to nab them on a technicality.

However we do it, we must kill the resume-builder. It’s destroying lives. We hear the warning signs all the time.

"I think I’ll do a double major (even though I hate school and don’t like either major, but hey, I’m special because I come from a two-parent household, so I should study both things they studied), because..."

"I think I’ll add a minor (because I hate my major so much that I’m obviously not going to do significant work related to that or, heaven forbid, spend my extra time doing something unrelated to school that I and a potential employer might actually give a rat’s ass about), because..."

"I think I’ll concentrate on this OR get this extra certificate (even though if I gave it any thought at all I’d know that people who didn’t go to my college won’t have any idea what it is and that people who do know also know it’s meaningless anyway), because..."

"...because it will look good on my resume." (with a valley girl accent, of course, ohmygod! OR if it’s a guy, with a voice that trails off to nonexistence because maybe just maybe if no one hears what I say it really didn’t happen because if a tree falls in the woods and no one’s around to hear it then maybe it didn’t make noise.)

Look, I’m not trying to say that certain brand names, perhaps of top schools or elite awards, on a resume don’t open certain doors. I know they do. I've even been fortunate that they do. I'm talking about the petty stuff, the stuff that doesn’t really matter in the good ways we think it will, the same stuff that really, really matters in the bad ways that we blindly discount into oblivion.

Last year I heard more than a few undergraduate and graduate students trying to rationalizing their decisions to take just one more class or do just one more practicum by violently listing (even counting on the fingers!) ELEVEN or more reasons why it would make their lives hell because they knew full well their schedules were already at their tipping points.

If I do this extra thing,...
1. I’ll have less time.
2. I’ll have more homework.
3. I probably won’t spend more time than I do now on homework, so I’ll be putting in less effort and time into each class.
4. I’ll be more stressed out.
5. I’ll cook less and eat more junk food.
6. I’ll get fatter.
7. I won’t fit into my clothes, and that will make me feel worse.
8. I won’t go to the gym because I won’t have time and I won’t want anyone to see me.
9. I’ll have to pull a few more all-nighters.
10. I’ll struggle to keep my GPA as high as it has been.
11. I might have to cut out an extra-curricular activity that I enjoy.

And then ONE reason why it minimally beneficial
1. But, it will probably look good on my resume.

Do I need to get out that cheesy scale from Celebrity Fit Club to show everyone that 11 is bigger than 1. Can’t you see it’s TWICE AS BIG (or more?)!

I move that we kill the “resume-builder.” Anyone second?

Posted by Ian Ybarra on 31 July 2005 Permalink | Comments (1)

And some people get there slower. So what.

...just to even the score from the "some people just get there faster" list, I'm compiling my own list of people who didn't "just get there faster." Here are a few I came up with quickly. Please add more if you think of them.

LAURA INGALLS WILDER BEGAN WRITING THE FIRST BOOK OF THE LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE SERIES AT 65.

COLONEL HARLAND SANDERS BEGAN FRANCHISING KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN AT 65.

MARY KAY ASH FOUNDED MARY KAY COSMETICS AT 49.

JIM MORRIS PITCHED IN HIS FIRST MAJOR LEAGUE GAME AT 35.

BOB DOLE DISCLOSED HIS SENSE OF HUMOR TO THE PUBLIC AT 73.

Posted by Ian Ybarra on 28 July 2005 Permalink | Comments (2)

What are you going to do with that?

Apparently, at commencement time 2004, Dan Pink (former speechwriter for Gore and author of Free Agent Nation) was hating on the same question I was.

What are you going to do with that?
(that, of course, being your degree)

READ...

...Dan Pink's commencement address to the Ringling School of Art & Design
"Art, Heart, & the Future"

...my column for the MIT newspaper's commencement issue,
"Answering The Question We Hate"

Posted by Ian Ybarra on 21 July 2005 Permalink

Priceless Conversations 2: The Self-confessed Sellout

This one from last summer when I was in NY working for Inc. magazine.

It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon in Central Park, and I was tossing a football around, waiting for the rest of the guys scheduled to play in our two-hand-touch game that afternoon. A former fraternity brother of mine from MIT (just a year older than me) showed up and we began the pleasantries just as everyone begins conversations right after you graduate.

HIM: "Good to see you, man. What are you doing now? Did you move down here to New York or you just here for the summer?"

ME: "Don't know how long I'll be in town. Right now I’m writing for Inc. magazine, mostly for the Inc. 500 issue, which profiles the 500 fastest-growing, private companies in the country. I’m basically on the phone all day with CEOs of these companies just chatting about their businesses and their lives, so it’s pretty fun. What’s next is still a bit up in the air, but I’m excited about the possibilities. I'll probably be writing somewhere." Then I respond in kind. And I’m genuinely curious. I like to hear about all the cool stuff people do.

ME: "And you? What are you up to?" He squints. It’s as if I struck a low blow.

HIM: "Same thing as everyone else...I’m a sellout."

ME: "What do you mean?" I could guess, but I was shocked that he’d put it that way. And since I like the guy, I was giving him the benefit of the doubt.

HIM: "You know, the finance thing."

ME: "Ah, come on. That doesn’t mean you’re a sellout. Some people actually want to do the finance thing."

HIM: "No. I’m a sellout."


As much as his words just ripped me apart inside -- for him -- I tried to look at the bright side. They say the first of the twelve steps is recognizing the problem.

Please, do what you really want to do so I don't get any more e-mail from people telling me stories of their friends (or is it them?) who are sell-outs, self-confessed or otherwise. And if you think you don't know what you want to do, start spending the time to figure it out, or at least get progressively closer. This is your life we're talking about here.

Posted by Ian Ybarra on 19 July 2005 Permalink

Some people just get there faster. So what.

I just stumbled upon a brochure I was given during a mini-MBA summer program I attended at Harvard Business School two years ago. Although I'm pretty sure I won't be attending business school, I kept the ad because it was so inspiring. It was produced as part of the HBS campaign to attract younger-than-usual applicants. It read...

some people just get there faster

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. WAS ADMITTED TO MOREHOUSE COLLEGE AT 15.

MARY ROBINSON BECAME A PROFESSOR OF LAW AT 24.

BOBBY FISCHER ACHIEVED THE RANKING OF GRANDMASTER OF CHESS AT 15.

RONALDO WAS NAMED THE BEST SOCCER PLAYER IN THE WORLD AT 19.

MOZART PUBLISHED HIS FIRST SONATA AT 6.

STEVE JOBS CREATED THE APPLE CIRCUIT BOARD AT 20.

LUKAS FOSS RECEIVED A GUGGENHEIM FELLOWSHIP FOR COMPOSITION AT 23.

MICHAEL DELL FOUNDED DELL COMPUTERS AT 19.

JAMES CONLON CONDUCTED THE NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC AT 24.

RICHARD BRANSON BEGAN VIRGIN RECORDS AT 17.

TIGER WOODS WON ALL FOUR OF GOLF'S MAJORS BY 24.

GARRY KASPAROV BECAME THE WORLD CHESS CHAMPION AT 22.

DONALD TRUMP PURCHASED HIS FIRST HOTEL AT 27.

JOHN F. KENNEDY WAS ELECTED PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES AT 43.

MARTINA HINGIS WON WIMBLEDON AT 16.

THOMAS JEFFERSON DRAFTED THE U.S. DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE AT 33.

NADIA COMENECI WON AN OLYMPIC GOLD MEDAL IN GYMNASTICS AT 14.

SONIA HENIE WON AN OLYMPIC GOLD MEDAL IN FIGURE SKATING AT 16.

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. WAS AWARDED THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE AT 35.

MERRICK JOHNSTON SCALED MOUNT MCKINLEY AT 12.

SHAWN FANNING DEVELOPED THE ORIGINAL NAPSTER APPLICATION AT 19.

LOU GERSTNER JR. BECAME A PARTNER AT MCKINSEY & CO. AT 28.

SAVION GLOVER EARNED A TONY NOMINATION AT 16.

WALT DISNEY INTRODUCED THE WORLD TO ANIMATED FILM AT 27.

HARRY CONNICK JR. BEGAN WORKING CLUBS IN THE FRENCH QUARTER AT 10.

ALBERT EINSTEIN HAD DEVELOPED THE THEORY OF RELATIVITY BY 28.

BOB MATHIAS WON AN OLYMPIC GOLD MEDAL IN THE DECATHLON AT 17.

WAYNE GRETZKY WON THE NHL'S HART TROPHY AT 18.

LANCE ARMSTRONG WON CYCLING'S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP AT 20.

LIBERACE WAS A CONCERT PIANIST AT 13.

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN FOUNDED THE FIRST U.S. PUBLIC LIBRARY AT 25.

STEVE CAUTHEN RODE TO HORSE RACING'S TRIPLE CROWN AT 18.

JUAN TRIPPE FOUNDED PAN AM AT 28.

JANE AUSTEN WROTE PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND SENSE AND SENSIBILITY BEFORE SHE WAS 22.

MAYA LIN DESIGNED THE U.S. VIETNAM VETERANS MEMORIAL AT 21.

JOHN C. BRECKINRIDGE BECAME VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES AT 36.

---

No doubt that list of earlybirds is inspiring. But some folks with great potential run into problems because they start drawing not inspiration but discouragement from a list like that, especially when their personal panic numbers (25, 30, 40, etc.) appear on their birthday cards.

They think "If I haven't done it by now, it's impossible." And if they waste their time thinking that way, they probably are sealing their destiny, day after day, year after year.

Sadly, they've got it all wrong. The power isn't in doing your thing before someone else did theirs. The power is in doing your thing at all. Anytime. Now.

As Joe Pesci's character Simon in the movie With Honors said, "Winners forget they're in a race. They just love to run." Ben Franklin, Jane Austen, Martin Luther the King, Forrest Gump...they just loved to run. We made up their races later.

To help you start running and leave the storytelling to some ad guy in the future, I've revised the HBS brochure just a bit.

some people just get there faster. but they didn't care and neither should you. because no matter your age, kicking ass leaves a mark.


MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. WAS ADMITTED TO MOREHOUSE COLLEGE.

MARY ROBINSON BECAME A PROFESSOR OF LAW.

BOBBY FISCHER ACHIEVED THE RANKING OF GRANDMASTER OF CHESS.

RONALDO WAS NAMED THE BEST SOCCER PLAYER IN THE WORLD.

MOZART PUBLISHED HIS FIRST SONATA.

STEVE JOBS CREATED THE APPLE CIRCUIT BOARD.

LUKAS FOSS RECEIVED A GUGGENHEIM FELLOWSHIP FOR COMPOSITION.

MICHAEL DELL FOUNDED DELL COMPUTERS.

JAMES CONLON CONDUCTED THE NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC.

RICHARD BRANSON BEGAN VIRGIN RECORDS.

TIGER WOODS WON ALL FOUR OF GOLF'S MAJORS.

GARRY KASPAROV BECAME THE WORLD CHESS CHAMPION.

DONALD TRUMP PURCHASED HIS FIRST HOTEL.

JOHN F. KENNEDY WAS ELECTED PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

MARTINA HINGIS WON WIMBLEDON.

THOMAS JEFFERSON DRAFTED THE U.S. DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.

NADIA COMENECI WON AN OLYMPIC GOLD MEDAL IN GYMNASTICS.

SONIA HENIE WON AN OLYMPIC GOLD MEDAL IN FIGURE SKATING.

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. WAS AWARDED THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE.

MERRICK JOHNSTON SCALED MOUNT MCKINLEY.

SHAWN FANNING DEVELOPED THE ORIGINAL NAPSTER APPLICATION.

LOU GERSTNER JR. BECAME A PARTNER AT MCKINSEY & CO.

SAVION GLOVER EARNED A TONY NOMINATION.

WALT DISNEY INTRODUCED THE WORLD TO ANIMATED FILM.

HARRY CONNICK JR. BEGAN WORKING CLUBS IN THE FRENCH QUARTER.

ALBERT EINSTEIN DEVELOPED THE THEORY OF RELATIVITY.

BOB MATHIAS WON AN OLYMPIC GOLD MEDAL IN THE DECATHLON.

WAYNE GRETZKY WON THE NHL'S HART TROPHY.

LANCE ARMSTRONG WON CYCLING'S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP.

LIBERACE WAS A CONCERT PIANIST.

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN FOUNDED THE FIRST U.S. PUBLIC LIBRARY.

STEVE CAUTHEN RODE TO HORSE RACING'S TRIPLE CROWN.

JUAN TRIPPE FOUNDED PAN AM.

JANE AUSTEN WROTE PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND SENSE AND SENSIBILITY.

MAYA LIN DESIGNED THE U.S. VIETNAM VETERANS MEMORIAL.

JOHN C. BRECKINRIDGE BECAME VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

Posted by Ian Ybarra on 13 July 2005 Permalink

The magician, the aspiring, and the accomplished

From: J
To: Ian

I'm sitting next to Malcolm Gladwell in a coffee shop. Anything you'd like me to say/ask him while I'm here. :P

J
----------

From: Ian
To: J

That’s pretty cool.

Someday someone will e-mail their friend and say “I’m sitting next to J in a coffee shop…” Just a matter of time.

-Ian
----------

From: J
To: Ian

Heh heh... perhaps they'll say that about Ian Ybarra, but I'm hoping people will know my name and not have a clue of what I look like. Frankly, someone with Gladwell's hair is begging to be visually recognizable :D It was funny. He looked like he was going to do some work, but he sat very quietly with his coffee... drank it... and then left. Musta needed some quiet time (don't we all!)


[Get the skinny on Gladwell's wild hair and more in Fast Company's January cover story "The Accidental Guru".]

Ever thought about how when we spot someone we look up to, we examine him to no end. Not just what clothes he wears, but if he buttons the cuffs on his shirtsleeves on the first, looser button or the second, tighter one. Not just what dish he orders, but how many times he chews each bite. Are we hoping that if our observation is thorough and complete, we will discover a secret to one of the magician's incredible tricks?

We watch them because we wish we could be like them. But too often, as my friend J did and I probably would have too if Gladwell were sitting near me, we examine them when they're not even doing what they do that makes us wish we could be like them. How futile are our hopes that the magician will reveal how he pulls the rabbit if we watch when he is without his hat! Sure, it's empowering to be near people we aspire to emulate, but to merely be near them is pure entertainment (e.g. when people "read" US Weekly*).

It is the sin of the aspiring to be content with entertainment. It is the secret of the accomplished to convert inspiration into action -- go on to actually learn the magic from the magician, and then to practice and practice and practice it themselves.

* I hate that magazine.

Posted by Ian Ybarra on 11 July 2005 Permalink | Comments (1)

"It's the hardest thing in the world --

-- to do what we want...I mean, what we really want."


Upon adamant recommendation by my friend Greg, I recently read The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand.

Below is a passage I can't get out of my head -- from when Peter Keating gets a clue at the end of the book -- because sadly, the words are true for more than just relationships, but our careers, our lives, as well.

"Katie...for six years...I thought of how I'd ask your forgiveness some day. And now I have the chance, but I won't ask it. It seems...it seems beside the point. I know it's horrible to say that, but that's how it seems to me. It was the worst thing I ever did in my life -- but not because I hurt you. I did hurt you, Katie, and maybe more than you know yourself. But that's not my worst guilt...Katie, I wanted to marry you. It was the only thing I ever really wanted. And that's the sin that can't be forgiven -- that I hadn't done what I wanted. It feels so dirty and pointless and monstrous, as one feels about insanity, because there's no sense to it, no dignity, nothing but pain -- and wasted pain...Katie, why do they always teach us that it's easy and evil to do what we want and that we need discipline to restrain ourselves? It's the hardest thing in the world -- to do what we want. And it takes the greatest kind of courage. I mean, what we really want. As I wanted to marry you. Not as I want to sleep with some woman or get drunk or get my name in the papers. Those things -- they're not even desires -- they're things people do to escape from desires -- because it's such a big responsibility, really to want something."

Posted by Ian Ybarra on 6 July 2005 Permalink

Priceless Conversations

From my recent trip to China.

I'm not making this stuff up.


THE CHARACTERS

CONSULTANT: works out of Beijing office of top-tier consulting firm, now in a post-MBA position, on track to make partner in several years, holds bachelor's and master's from an elite university

OTHER GUY: former venture capitalist, holds bachelor's and MBA from elite universities, recently moved to Shanghai

Let the conversations begin.


1.
OTHER GUY: "I really want to get into consulting."

CONSULTANT: "How old are you?"

OG: "Thirty-three."

C: "Ah, you've waited too long."

Pause.

C: "Consulting -- it’s just training. Yeah, you've probably waited too long. You should go do something real now."

Turns out "Other Guy" has been waiting too long.

2.
CONSULTANT: Have you started doing interviews?

OTHER GUY: Oh, I have an interview set up -- with your firm, actually.

Other Guy thinks he has impressed Consultant.

C: Congrats. When are you interviewing?

OG: Oh, well I had an interview set up. Back in March. I postponed it.

C looks at his watch, confirms that it's June.

Reminds me of an exchange from Good Will Hunting

SEAN: Yeah? You got a lady now?

WILL: Yeah, I went on a date last week.

SEAN: How'd it go?

WILL: Fine.

SEAN: Well, are you going out again?

WILL: I don't know.

SEAN: Why not?

WILL: Haven't called her.

SEAN: Jesus Christ, you are an amateur.

Now, back to Consultant, who in addition to kicking butt at his job, is also a social connector, extraordinaire. Loves entertaining, big groups, fine dining, late nights, heavy drinking. Below, our conversation the next evening.

3.
Me: So when will you get into the restaurant/bar/club business? I know you've thought about it.

C: Yeah, I’ve talked about it with my friends.

Pause.

C: It just takes a lot of time, and it's a tough business. You’ve got to manage it really well.

ME: Isn’t that the point? The fun of it? You're a management consultant. Thought you'd want to manage a business really well.

C: Not at all. I just tell other people how to do it. I don't have to do the management. They have to do it. I just write and talk, that’s all.

Posted by Ian Ybarra on 2 July 2005 Permalink