Posted by: Jake Cripe | May 4, 2011

“What I’m Afraid of In My Career”

The wonderful leaders over at #u30pro have just launched their new website: http://u30pro.com. To celebrate the launch, they have asked their loyal minions to write blog posts on the topic of “What I’m Afraid of In My Career” so that they can “give some shit away”. The sheer eloquence of their request has spurred me into action. Here we go!

There are a lot of things to be afraid of when it comes to your career. Am I qualified enough? Am I still relevant? Am I falling behind? Is my work good enough? They are all valid concerns but they are not what I fear most in my career…

The thing that I fear most is that I will become comfortable and settle for mediocrity. Humans are creatures of habit. We get into routines because they are comfortable, reliable, and they make us feel like we are in control. But these routines are often the cause of stagnant careers.

You get comfortable doing the job that you have been doing for years. Your plans to keep climbing that corporate ladder have disappeared…but you have a pretty good gig now. It isn’t the best thing in the world and you aren’t thrilled about the work but you have gotten so used to it. It is comfortable, safe, and reliable. You quit climbing. You quit dreaming. You quit fighting to be the very best. You become the office drone that you swore to never become. The years blur in a sea of blandness and you wake up one day and realize those years feel wasted and unfulfilled. And all you can do is regret that you didn’t realize it sooner.

Losing my job is not my biggest fear because there are others out there. Becoming irrelevant is not my biggest fear because you can learn new skills and techniques to become relevant again. But I have gotten into comfortable routines before and know how addicting they can be. If you lose those years stuck in a mediocre routine…you cannot get them back.

And that terrifies me.

I have a compass rose tattoo on my shoulder blade (similar to the one pictured). It has many meanings for me, but the relevant one is to take a step back every once in awhile and look at the direction of my life. If I am unhappy with where I am going, it is time to get back on track. Make the necessary changes to make sure that my years are fulfilling and that when I am on my death bed, I can go out with zero regrets and a smile on my face.

Does anyone else share my fear? What are you doing to ensure it never happens?

Advertisements
Posted by: Jake Cripe | February 9, 2011

Let’s Take Back Our Education!

Earlier last week, I was asked by fellow #u30pro-er, Ryan Stephens (@ryanstephens), to create a 90 second video blog/short post on my thoughts about education reform for an initiative of his (found here).

It was clear right off the bat that this was something Ryan was passionate about, and that zeal got me motivated to do some research and create a short post for him.

So I tried making a short video blog. Then I tried again. Then I tried a short post. Each try failed. It may have been good enough to make the site, but there was a lot that I felt I was leaving out. The only way that I can feel satisfied is if I get it all out…thus, my newest post.

It’s no secret that we are falling behind other countries in regards to education. It is all over the news and stats can be found with a quick Google search. But I do not want to focus on that. What I do want to focus on is two-fold: 1) How we can improve and 2) Things I wish I would have learned to help better prepare me for the real world (a topic that has become popular in the #u30pro community)

How We Can Improve

Where to start? That’s what I asked myself when I started. I decided to go to the source: my sister. I found her to be a great resource for a number of reasons. She is a teacher (a good place to start IMO). She is a pretty recent college graduate (so she was able to tell me what she wished she could have learned). And finally, she has the unique desire to actually change the way teaching is done in order to improve future generations (a quality that I wish more teachers had). We agreed on many opinions, the most important of which is that reform begins at a young age.

The problem starts with kids not getting a solid enough foundation. Teaching kids how to read and write English is just not being taught well enough. Disagree? Go to Youtube.com and look at just about any comment thread and you will understand. Our country is plagued with the illiterate.

Illiteracy

The best way to solve this is to ensure that young children are actually reading (as opposed to taking the short cut of skimming cliff notes). What my sister has done is require her students to mark their books. Highlight parts, write notes, ask questions in the margins. Every morning, she checks each book and gives them a few points for doing it. That way, over time, not reading and marking your book will affect your grade. Once students start reading more, they gain a better knowledge of sentence structure, vocabulary, and the English language as a whole. This is a building block that is vital to their education.

Teachers have work to do too. Don’t get me wrong, I have great respect for this profession and I don’t think that good teachers get near the rewards they deserve. The problem is that almost anyone can become a teacher. My sister told me that I could take the entrance exam right now and probably pass with high marks. That is pretty discouraging, because not everyone should be a teacher. To be a teacher, you need to have a sort of talent that cannot be taught, despite teachers teaching future teachers how to teach…go ahead, read it again 🙂

Instead of taking teaching classes, our future mind-shapers should be learning everything they can about the topic they plan on teaching. My sister is currently teaching her students about the French Revolution. She has absolutely no prior knowledge to the subject, yet she is entrusted to tell these kids all they need to know. She told me that she is up until the wee hours of the morning trying to learn the subject that she is teaching. That is absurd! If you are going to teach history, you should take history classes, not teaching classes. If you are going to teach math, get a degree in math. Teachers are soldiers going to battle without weapons.

My last opinion for improvement (for the purpose of brevity) is that if a teacher is not doing a good job, that person should be fired. There are awful teachers out there that are allowed to teach because they have locked in a position. Teaching should be like any other profession: if you do not perform adequately, you are let go. It is how every other business ensures that proper people are in charge.

These aren’t overnight changes, but if they are put in place, I guarantee an improvement in our students. Teachers suited for the job and children getting a better foundation are paramount to education reform.

What I Wish I Had Learned

After looking through the comments the #u30pro-ers, it was clear that many felt that they had been gypped out of learning things pertinent to the real world. I feel the same way. I came out of college with a firm understanding of how to do a statistical analysis, but when it came to office policies, personal finance, and even the fine art of relationship building, I was feeling around in the dark. To take a quote from Ryan’s blog: “BEING GOOD AT SCHOOL DOESN’T MEAN SHIT IN THE REAL WORLD.” – Short, sweet, and delightfully eloquent.

You can argue that getting an internship in college can help prepare you, but not all of us had an internship. I chose to study abroad instead. While it provided a life changing experience and a deeper understanding of the cultural world, it did little to prepare me for the working world.

There are college classes that I took that are completely irrelevant to my life right now. Biology and Calculus have very little to do with marketing and the business world in general. If I could, I would replace them with classes like

  • Office Skills 101 – Networking, public speaking, getting promoted, how to not be a dick, etc.
  • Life Skills 101 – change a tire, do your taxes, create a generator out of a drinking straw, paper clip, and rubber band (that last one is based on the Laws of Chuck Norris).

Chuck Norris disproves science with roundhouse kicks.

While I found my biology class to be interesting, a broken down car cannot be repaired by identifying seed-bearing vascular plants. Outside of school is a different world. To prepare us for that world, we need to change the subjects that we are being taught.

This is a small fraction of the problems our education system faces. Others can be found by taking a peak through other posts on Ryan’s blog. These are problems that are not going to just disappear. In fact, if left alone, they will only worsen. So let this post, and the others you find, be a call to action! I don’t want this post to be some light reading before bed and then forgotten the next day. Ryan’s blog is a movement and I want this to be a part of it. Pass it along to the teachers, the professors, the students, the writers of textbooks, your cat. Spread the word! Let’s take back our education!

What do you wish you had learned in school? How would you improve the system? Sound off in the comments.

 

For those of you who are curious, #u30pro is a community of professionals that get together on Facebook and Twitter to discuss all sorts of real-world topics. Co-founded by David Spinks, Lauren Fernandez, and Scott J. Hale, it is a great place to get feedback, learn a thing or two, or to drop some knowledge.

Posted by: Jake Cripe | August 24, 2010

For the love of God…

I normally stay far far away from politics and religion. However, with Prop 8 and the building of a mosque near Ground Zero, the headlines seem to be saturated with these topics. I never actually thought that I would rather hear about Brett Favre’s plans for the future…

I've made up my mind....maybe

Before I dive into the meat of this post, first the reasons I keep my distance from these subjects:

Political parties are up to their eyeballs in people willing to argue on seemingly any topic that their opposing party is for. Democrats want to increase funding for stem cell research to help cure millions, Republicans say they are killing babies. Republicans want to extend tax cuts, Democrats say they are single-handedly destroying our economy. Our political system has turned into two teenage brothers arguing just to spite the other person. It doesn’t matter if it is good for the American people…if the opposing party supports it, it is clearly wrong and going to murder our children. I am all for playing Devil’s Advocate but they have taken it to an absurd level that is crippling our country. And this is only part of the problem. The other part: the American people that take absolutely no time to research (or do research but from such biased sources that the thought of calling them credible makes me want to vomit) issues. The repercussions of passing a law that my party is for? Who cares?! My side is for it so it must be right. Hell, when President Obama was elected, reporters interviewed black supporters and asked them loaded questions to see how much they knew. When asked if they supported Obama’s choice of Senator Palin as his Vice President, many of them said they thought it was a great choice….How short-sighted do you have to be to think that a racial victory will in any way help our country? Who cares what his policies are…he is black and so am I. Clearly he gets my vote! This idiocy is seen throughout politics. Want to bet a whole mess of women voted for Hilary Clinton simply because she was a woman? Politics is not only a joke, but also a virus that has infected our country, slowly bringing it to its knees. Which brings me to the topic that I am sure will one day deliver our final coup de grace.

Religion seems to have become less about being raised with morals and virtues and more about how everyone else is wrong for disagreeing with their beliefs. Religions that once preached peace, love and acceptance have gone on the defensive and now show the most discrimination and intolerance. Wars are being fought over the belief of religious superiority; my deity is better than your deity. Again, these groups are plagued with those blinded by their own beliefs to even possibly consider alternatives. I believe that I can hold my own in almost any debate or argument, but I refuse to argue with religious zealots. The holy tomes of each religion can easily be interpreted in multiple ways. Scholars have spent their lives dedicated to deciphering these ancient texts and still do not have any certainty of how it should be interpreted. This does not stop extreme believers from believing that somehow they have the knowledge to understand the meanings of these words and that their “truth” is the only truth. I can’t tell you how many times I have had someone try to argue with me using the vaguest of Bible quotes. When I call them out on it and present a possible second meaning to this scripture, they laugh at the audacity that my puny brain could comprehend God’s will…thats their job. They fail to consider the possibility that not only could their understanding be flawed, but their entire religion could, theoretically, be flawed. The majority of religious people were born into their religion. The laws of the church have been ingrained in them since birth…of course it will be difficult to accept the fact that it may not be true. It is all they know…take it away and they are left with nothing. So they cling to their “truth” with the ferocity of a rabid beast. If there is a higher power, I pray that it has mercy on us, for we know not what we do.

Both politics and religion are supposed to be about making the world a better place…not worse. They are supposed to teach us to love each other unconditionally and to help serve the people of this country. Think of how much more our country could accomplish if we could put aside the petty squabbling and work toward a better tomorrow. Think about the peace our world could know if religions realized just how similar they are to one another (seriously…check it out: http://bit.ly/c6RR81). Do you really believe that a higher power wants you to justify the killing, harming, or discriminating against any other law-abiding human being? Do you really want to be a part of that belief system? So the religions are not exactly the same…ever consider accepting those differences and loving them anyway? Let them pray their way and you pray yours. But Jake, if we become more tolerant, the gays and the Muslims will overrun our country with their parades and mosques and life as we know it will be over. Don’t be naive and don’t be stupid. Instead of blindly believing the first source that comes up on your Google search, try doing a little more digging into both sides of your issue and actually understand what is going on. You may realize that you are not as well equipped to discuss these topics as you thought.

Realize that our country is in serious trouble. Not from invading Mexicans stealing our jobs, ninja Muslims silently asserting themselves into our country, or gays holding hands in front of your children…but from our own political system and religious intolerance. The hatred and separation that these once revered sections of society are causing have and will continue to lead to war, discrimination, and eventual destruction of mankind.

Religiously Gay Politics!!! NOOOOO!!!!!

Now I know that there are hundreds out there that will disagree with me. The religious will tell me that I am damned to the fires and brimstone of hell and the political types will argue their opposing party is the one to blame. If you have made it this far in this post, before you criticize me…take a step back and consider your own beliefs…seriously. Consider the fact that your beliefs could possibly be flawed. Consider that you may not actually hold all the answers and that the personal wars you wage on those with different beliefs are not only baseless…but cruel. Don’t copy and paste a bunch of unread, misunderstood, and biased sources to try and convince me that your intolerance and discrimination is warranted and legitimized. Instead, try and figure out how we can save this country from destroying itself.

I wish this was a more light-hearted post but these are serious issues and for once I find myself unable to laugh around them. While most of the religious arguments seem to be directed at Christians, this is only because I was raised as one and have the most experience in that area. The lessons and arguments are the same for every religion. Agree or disagree, please feel free to leave your comments (void of said copy and pasted materials) to voice your opinions.

Older Posts »

Categories