Post 8 How To Pick A Career……October 19, 2014


Steve Jobs vs Mark Cuban…..To pick a career when you’re young is often a baffling task. The college graduate who knows exactly what he/she wants to do is the exception. Most college graduates don’t have a clue. How can they? They have yet to experience life. That’s why the following advice from life-coach and psychologist, Marty Nemko, may be extremely helpful.  A career counselor for almost 30 years and author of Cool Careers for Dummies, here’s what Nemko has to say about this all-important career -finding decision: 

“Rather than tell you to see a career counselor for ten sessions only to be told ‘There’s lots of things you could pursue,’  try this. It’s fast, free and often surprisingly helpful: Scan the index of the 300 careers in the Occupational Outlook Handbook, available free at  and read the profiles of any careers that appeal to you. Then read a couple of articles on that career. To find them, just Google the name of the career and the word careers, for example, ‘geologist careers’. Finally, talk with, visit, or volunteer for someone in that career, and voila, you’ve picked more wisely than do 95% of career searchers.” 

graduation-post7In pursuing your career, the common perception is that you should be passionate about your work. Apple founder, Steve Jobs, said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.”  Mark Twain put it in more practical terms: “The more enjoyment you get out of your work, the more money you will make.” And the famous mythologist, Joseph Campbell’s philosophy is often summed up in three words: “Follow your bliss.”

But not everybody agrees. Billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban believes that what comes first and what’s most important is hard work. He says that following your passion is “easily the worst advice you could ever give or get.”  Instead he says you should “follow your effort”, meaning work hard and get to be good at what you’re doing. And because people usually like what they’re good at, you’ll likely come to enjoy or even be passionate about your job. In sum, work hard, persist, and good things will happen (click HERE for Cuban article).  Cuban’s views echo those of professor and author Cal Newport whose book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You, is sub-titled, “Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love” (click HERE for more on Newport and his book).

The way I see it is this: “Follow your passion” is good advice for the few people who have it at a young age, along with the necessary talent.  But for most graduates starting out, it doesn’t apply. For them, what’s  essential is the hard work and the persistence. The single best approach to selecting a career, in my view, is to find a line of work that you’re good at and that you like or at least don’t dislike.

picture-post 7=find a niche

Then find a niche within that field and become expert at it. In this era of specialization, you may have to find a niche within a niche. For example, as a securities broker you may focus on Funds, and then specialize further in ETFs. Or as a lawyer, you may select Entertainment Law and then specialize further in the Music Publishing business. The important thing is that you learn everything there is to know about your sub-specialty, so that  you know more than anyone else in your field or in your firm or in your office. The result: when anyone thinks about ETFs or Music Publishing Contracts, they immediately think about you. Your name is synonymous with your specialty and your lasting success is assured.

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The Diaper Connection…….The wisdom of Benjamin Franklin is legendary (click HERE for Wikipedia write-up). The following quote is a shining example of the timelessness of his insight. Written over 200 years ago, it resonates today as much as it did then, maybe more.Politicians

And here are a few other samples of the timeless wisdom of Benjamin Franklin. You’d think they were written yesterday, not two centuries ago:   “We’re all born ignorant, but you have to work hard to remain stupid……….Love your neighbor but don’t cut down the hedge……….I believe I am now in the prime of my senility………..In your amours, you should prefer older women to younger ones because they are so grateful”.

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Enjoy your old age; you’ve done your job….. Parents and Grandparents: How do you feel about leaving money to your children when you die? Children: How do you feel about receiving money from your parents when they die?  These are age-old questions addressed by personal finance writer Ron Lieber in his 9/19/2014 column in The N Y Times. The title of his column clearly reveals where he’s coming from: “Parents, The Children Will Be Fine, Spend Their Inheritance Now”.

Here’s Lieber’s thinking: “The parental instinct to leave something behind for the children might seem loving and generous, but there is another way to look at it. All of this devotion to the next generation


 may also be the height of foolishness. After a few decades of spending well into the six figures to rear and educate each child (and increasingly, years more because young adults are not quite  financially independent), the parents probably ought to cease feeling this sense of obligation or guilt. Far better to spend their retirement money in the present on making meaningful memories with family members or on top-notch health care that can help make aging more comfortable and graceful–in their own home if possible.”

Do most adult children expect  an inheritance?  According to the poll quoted by Lieber in his NY Times column, most of those who are providing for their parents do so with little expectation of receiving anything in return. But some who remain “on the dole well into adulthood expect their parents to provide for them from the grave too.”

Since older people tend to be “old-fashioned” and have trouble initiating forthright conversations about money, Lieber’s advice is for adult children (40-60) to speak to their parents and tell them this: “I don’t want an inheritance, nor do I expect one……spend your money on your health and comfort…….leave a bit aside for me or for charity if it truly makes you happy, requires no sacrifice or makes sense for tax reasons; otherwise, spend what you have and have faith that the education and life skills you already gave me are more than enough….” (Click HERE for complete column).

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If this doesn’t calm you down, nothing will…..      In our ever-increasingly violent and chaotic world, anything that suggests peace and serenity has strong appeal. Over 2 million views have been recorded on YouTube for a video with this title: “Relaxing 3-Hour Video of a Tropical Beach with Blue Sky, White Sand and Palm Tree“. It’s a perfect, picture post-card, tropical beach scene. The sounds of the small waves gently breaking on the shore line and the subdued cries of the seagulls in the distance can be mesmerizing. while the feel of the rising tide embracing more and more of the sand, the palms moving slightly in the soft breeze and the puff of white clouds on the horizon complete a picture of tranquility. Comments one viewer, “The earth can be a beautiful place minus the people on it” (click HERE to see video; commercial is very brief; raise your audio).

After watching this idyllic setting and especially after listening to the lilting, relaxing, almost hypnotic sound of the gentle waves, you will probably be surprised that this video has drawn criticism. How can you pan perfection?  Here are some of the negative comments: “the clouds don’t  change……..the sound is not synced……..this is not real; I live near a beach where the sand is dark and full of trash and seaweed and the water is brown……..the tide doesn’t change………..I need a beach chair and a cocktail…..this is a 25 second video looped for 3 hours…”

This video is one of many on You Tube that offer sights and sounds from nature designed to help you relax, meditate and sleep. Some are as long as 11 hours with titles such as Rain and Thunder, Ocean Fish, Beach Sunrise, Waterfalls and Geyser at Yellowstone.

On his website, The Conscious Life, devoted to the holistic approach to a healthy life (click HERE), Wee- Peng Ho , an art director from Singapore, says, “Want to get away from it all? Reclaim your peace of mind with the soothing sounds of nature and relax in the loving embrace of Mother Earth.”

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Obscene or educational?……...In September of 2014, six second graders from P.S. 295 in Brooklyn, NY  got early exposure to the world of fine dining. Sponsored by the NY Times, the six children had a 7 course, $220 dinner at the famous French restaurant, Daniel. Attended by 5 waiters and the star chef Daniel Boulud himself, the whole experience was recorded on a 7 minute video published in the Times (click here), including the faces of the 7 year olds and their comments as they react to the fancy French food. The Times was right—the promotion caused lots of buzz, well worth the expense.

There were some 500 comments from readers  Some expressed “outrage” that the NY Times should be responsible for such an obscene display of extravagance against a background of world hunger and of children dying of malnutrition. But more typical were these responses: ” Lighten up. I think it’s great to expose kids to new experiences…..let’s embrace showing our children what real food  really is………if kids were more educated about healthy food at an early age, maybe there’d be less obesity and diabetes.” Advised one reader, “If you rename foie gras liverwurst and capon chicken, maybe your kids will eat it.” 

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Post 8 How To Pick A Career……October 19, 2014 — 4 Comments

  1. Very interesting take on choosing careers. It’s become cliche to “follow your passion” and I agree that few really know what they do want after college. I recently read an article about the high cost of college education … The author’s take was that, unless you’re in a specialized field like medicine or engineering, college is NOT necessary for most kids. Grads generally don’t feel prepared for any career and will be paying back college loans for years. It’s good to hear the not-so-popular opinions about what it takes to succeed.

    I also agree with parents reserving their retirement/savings for themselves — whether it’s for pleasure or taking care of their health in old age. Children who “expect” money from their aging parents are being unrealistic, if not selfish and entitled.

    Lastly, how could anyone resist the second graders in a fancy NYC restaurant?

    Thanks for the fascinating finds in Blog #8.

    To justice and all … And vampires!!

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