Will and I attended a “Future Ready” event at Des Moines Lincoln High School recently.  The format is designed to gather graduates from Lincoln to share career, college and general career advice.  There were a number of non-profits in attendance, military representatives and for-profit capitalists like us. ????

We presented our ideas to two different classes.  One was made up of sophomores and the other included juniors.  If you are looking for a lot of positive reinforcement this would not be your audience of choice.  They were respectful but there was a fair amount of indifference, particularly when they heard that I graduated in 1986 (well before any of them were born.)

Anyway, we tried to share three key themes.  One – keep your options open when it comes to college, trade school or your field of study.  Things change quickly when you are young.  I shared how I started my studies at a school in Oklahoma.  My initial major was Management Information Systems and it turns out I am not a good computer programmer.  From there I transferred to UNI and began my journey into Finance.  We explained that a broad business degree can offer them options from entrepreneurship to management.

The second thing we hoped to impress on them was the importance of communication.  Highlighting their lifelong relationship with their phones was a hope to impress that they need to be able to communicate their ideas both verbally and in writing.  One of the host teachers heartily agreed with me.  When we meet young people either to work at PrairieFire or while interacting with my adult children the ability to communicate remains a highly marketable skill.  If you have a variety of experiences and can then combine that with dynamic communication skills the opportunity set is vast.

The final point was to focus on their strengths for future opportunities.  Many of them had superior artistic skills (drawings on their papers, etc.).  Taking those skills to the market via a side gig or the like can turn a hobby into a career or business.  We encouraged them to focus on the things they are good at and creatively think through how they could make money using those skills.  One of them actually lifted their head and wrote something down.  Positive reinforcement indeed!

It was fun and Will did a great job explaining how he selected his major, the types of classes he took at UNI and why he chose wealth management for a career.  Hopefully we made a positive impact and our next generation can seize their opportunities.