Tag Archives: San Francisco

Teach, Learn, Share

The following is from a post I published in LinkedIn, in response to an emailed request from Dan Roth, Executive Editor. They implied I’m an “influencer”. How could I resist?

Giving advice to young people beginning their professional careers is not something I’m generally asked to do. How does someone whose background and experience is as unconventional as mine even relate to others who have already gone a different route? You just finished earning a Bachelor’s Degree. I never attended undergraduate school. What can I say to you that will make any sense? Nevertheless, LinkedIn has suggested I give it a shot and even ensure my thoughts stand out by tagging them with #IfIWere22, so here goes.

Twenty-two! Whew. That was 45 years ago. I have a hard time even being certain what I remember from back then actually happened. By that age I had already been in the US Navy (medically discharged after a short stint), owned a small business, lived on the streets of the Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco during the waning days of the Summer of Love, and the North Campus district above the University of California at Berkeley after that.

By all measures of the time, I was a failure. I had nothing to show for those years save a hell of a lot of street smarts. How does one put that on a résumé? I did manage to get a job at a jewelry manufactory, where I learned to melt . . . er . . . solder gold and silver, making some very high quality jewelry, but it surely wasn’t a career I was interested in pursuing. In the next few years I had lots of jobs, but no career to speak of.

Law School Graduation

Don’t take life too seriously.

At 26, despite having no undergraduate education and never having taken the SAT, I was able to attend an accredited Law School, largely because I scored very high on the LSAT and after my first year easily passed the First Year Law Student’s Exam. It was not required of those who had their Baccalaureates. I received my Juris Doctorate in 1976.

I was lucky. I had some resources at my disposal and I had always been an avid reader and a self-learner – an autodidact. After graduating Law School I realized I didn’t much care for the legal profession and, coupled with my father having a major heart attack, I felt I had no choice but to join my family’s wholesale food distribution business. For the next 12 years I worked with my family and in several different jobs and businesses. You can see my profile for yourself. This is LinkedIn, after all. 🙂

Now . . . the question remains, what did I learn and what can I pass on to you as you begin your career? One thing, probably, is you don’t want to do what I did. However, there are at least two very important things I think brought me to where I am today (btw – check out my last job before retirement. It was a doozy), which isn’t wildly successful, but has given me a considerable amount of satisfaction.

First, don’t ever stop learning. Read, experience, experiment, test, and share. Learn so you can share what you know with others. It is the best way, IMO, to move forward. Too many people try and create a persona for themselves they hope will be perceived as irreplaceable. Don’t be one of them. Your value is in sharing knowledge, not hoarding it. You will be much happier because you won’t be constantly looking over your shoulder, wondering who’s sneaking up to replace you. You’ll be too busy concentrating on the steps above you.

Second. Perseverance. In the words of Coach Jimmy Valvano, “Don’t Give Up . . . Don’t Ever Give Up.” No matter how bad things are, they will improve if you just don’t give up. This doesn’t mean you won’t experience failures and setbacks. They’re inevitable. What it means is, despite your losses, despite those failures and setbacks, you need to pull yourself up and get on with your business. And when these things happen, refer to the previous paragraph; learn. Turn that sow’s ear into your very own silk purse; defeat into victory. You can do it.

I hope some of what I’ve written here will be of use to you. If you are in the intended audience for these “If I were 22” posts, you’ve got your entire career ahead of you. Keep your eyes and ears open. You don’t need to plan every step; serendipity is a wonderful thing. As you can see from the picture of my Law School graduation in 1976, above, I also think it’s important to not take oneself too seriously. Enjoy your lives and make others happy. Good luck out there.

Steeerike threeee! Yer Out!

Blind Umpire

Is This How You See The Ump?

Last month, during the third game of the 2012 World Series, there was a pitch that was called as a third strike. Seconds after the call, which ended the at-bat for whichever team was up for that inning, there was a graphic shown of the strike zone and the location of the ball as it passed the plate. It was clearly outside the strike zone and, therefore, should not have been called a strike.

It got me thinking. We use technology to help us with a lot of things and it seems to me calling balls and strikes ought to be one of the things we consider using it for. I have no doubt the technology not only exists, but that it’s currently being used during baseball games. They showed the graphic and, frankly, inasmuch as they’ve been able to obtain the speed of the ball using radar for years, I see no reason they can’t use it to ascertain the exact track of the ball.

Now, I no longer watch much baseball. Ever since the game showed their disdain for their fans by canceling the 1994 World Series through the inability of the players and owners to reach an agreement on how they would divvy up the enormous sums of money they garner each season, I have determined not to be a contributor. Amazingly enough, I have managed to make it through most every season without paying attention and my life has continued rather nicely. I have, on occasion, attended a game or two in all these years, but only because I was invited and did not wish to ignore the generosity of someone whom I respect.

I have also watched many of the games in the World Series over the years, though not much lately. The one I watched this year was – I believe – the third game of the series between San Francisco and Detroit. It was the first game I had seen all year. Frankly, I’d rather watch golf; I’d actually rather play golf, but that’s another story. Besides, it’s difficult to play golf in the dark. I’ve heard Stevie Wonder does it. 🙂

Since I began writing this particular post, I’ve spoken to several friends who are baseball fans and asked them what they thought about the concept of using technology to replace the home plate umpire. Not one of them thought it a good idea. I’m not surprised. There is something to be said about the human factor in games involving humans. After all, if we could replace the umpire with a near-infallible robot, why not seek to replace the batter/runner with a robot capable of calculating the trajectory of the ball when pitched? That would suggest the possibility of a home run each at bat, obviating the need for fielders. Oy! Now my head hurts thinking about this.

I’m sorry I brought it up.

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