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Motivation….makes it happen

This post has an unlikely inspiration. I was watching an episode of Modern Family which happens to be one of my favorite  shows. The highlight was on Alex, the youngest sister in the Dunphy house. She is cast on the show as a very smart, capable girl who seems uncomfortable with her status at school as a nerd even though she sometimes doesn’t see how much a nerd she actually is. On the episode, Alex is struggling with all of the things on her plate like AP tests and college applications and things that the rest of her family doesn’t really understand. You see, Claire (the mother), Phil (father), Haley (older sister), and Luke (brother) all are not like Alex. Alex stands out because she is so smart and her other family is “ditzy.” She is driven and wants to get into the best school and puts an exorbitant amount of pressure on herself to do well.

Juxtaposed throughout the episode is the open house at school where Claire and Phil go to learn about their daughter’s schedule and workload. There is a moment where Claire starts to have a meltdown because she realizes that Alex needs to do 6 hours of homework after school just to keep up. While Claire is having her meltdown just thinking about how much Alex has to do, Alex has set up a therapy session because she also had a meltdown.

While Alex is in therapy, she says something that struck a chord with me… she is who she is and she accepts her role as family nerd. But the motivation to be the best comes from within and not from anyone else. This realization is one that I came to a little while ago as well. For the longest time in high school I just slacked off. I did not care about school. I did well enough to keep the parents happy but knew I could do so much better.

There was a moment where I challenged myself to do the best I could do the last semester of senior year. I ended up 0.01 away from a 4.0. The next challenge was doing well in college and I will admit that I was doing it because I didn’t want to waste money. I went through college like I went through high school… I did not really care. Again, doing well enough for my parent’s satisfaction but not as well as I could do. This was until halfway through senior year when I for the last time switched my major. I was just trying to get out of college the quickest way possible but in doing so, it changed my life forever.

Humanities was the best thing to happen to me and I owe my current adoration for learning to the faculty there. I did not realize that learning could be so fun and enjoyable. My senior thesis was on a topic that is so near and dear to me and really fostered my passion for continuing to learn every day. This led to my eventual turn to healthcare as the career I wanted most. I knew that my bachelors degree was not enough for me to move up in any company and decided to return to school. All the while I was at work full time and school full time, I thought to myself, “what have I done?” However, I continued to march on. Each class became  more interesting and after receiving all A’s my first semester there, I decided to challenge myself to get only A’s the rest of the way. I loved the classwork and craved the knowledge that my professors were instilling in me and even did extra work just to stay ahead of the curve. All of this led me to the realization that Alex had in Modern Family:

I am a nerd and I love every single second of it. The motivation for me to do well and be successful is no longer extrinsic. It has become a feeling of thirst for more knowledge, a passion for moving up in an organization, and a duty to help as many individuals as I can. I do what I do because I want to, not because someone else is telling me to. I have become my own person. Yes, I hear the banter about being a “career student” but shouldn’t we all be career students? Shouldn’t we all have the intrinsic motivation to do well and be successful so that we may live our lives to the fullest? After all, what else will we have but our legacy when we die?

It is here that I want to thank those professors, mentors, and parents for giving me the chance to attend college and find my own way. I am grateful to them for everything they have done and am proud of becoming a career student. If that is my label, I will own it with pride and continue on my journey to quench my thirst for knowledge.

The Way I See It

“The way I see it.” Isn’t this a provocative statement? We all see the world from where we are standing and have our own beliefs and opinions. Some express them more freely than others while some prefer to let their actions speak for them. What has excited me over the past few years is the growing desire to express myself and let others know exactly where I stand. This is the combination of my education at Villanova and Saint Joseph’s and my unrelenting passion for “people-watching.” You can sit in a crowded cafe, take a stroll in a mall, or simply sight see and enjoy the environment which you have chosen.

My advice for the day is to stop looking down. Look up and realize what is around you. You are surrounded by a different situation each and every day. What is different? What is the same? What can we say about that couple over there? What is that group doing? These are just some of the questions you may ask yourself to gain a better understanding of the world YOU live in. Do not get caught in the monotony of it all. Make your life more interesting and learn something new each day.

Thank you and I hope you have a day of discovery!

Sincerely,

Seth

Mind your P’s and… P’s

You hear it over and over again: The economy is so tough right now, companies just aren’t hiring…We are sorry you have to go through this. What does it all mean? The world is a different place these days and without an ounce of remorse, hiring managers alike are dropping the hat on new college graduates looking for a professional position. So what is the secret? How can we break this code and if so, what will this mean for thousands of college grads?

The story is all too familiar: A job is posted states that the necessary degree is a bachelor’s and that minimal experience is needed. This is an entry level position. So you go in expecting to interview well and talk up your college degree and the experience you DO have. You’ve interviewed well and the people like you a lot. There is only one problem… you are told you don’t have the experience for the job. If this sounds like you, you are not alone. Companies today are looking for experience in entry level positions. They want to see that you have extensive experience in the field and that you are competent in the specifics.

So for many recent college graduates in the arts and sciences, it becomes a “back to the drawing board” mentality. I have heard sociology, psychology, humanities, and even nursing students who have just graduated in the same situation. Nobody is willing to train them. In the same breath I hear accounting majors from 20 years ago that say, “I didn’t know shit coming out of college. I learned it almost entirely on the job.”

There has been a disturbing trend of this unwillingness to train people who have the drive and desire to excel at a certain job. While I acknowledge that no job is given, it is earned, a lot of college graduates including myself feel that they have worked for four years and feel that they should get a fair shot at a position. Let’s face it, many of the hiring managers and HR personnel have enjoyed the golden age with many companies hiring right off the streets and the barrier to entry was almost zero. However, they are now unwilling to train the next generation of workers.

So what is the code? How can we break through it and what does it mean for us moving forward? Well, the answer seems to be more schooling coupled with unpaid internships and just a sheer will to succeed. I will speak for myself in that I was turned down on my fair share of opportunities on account of my lack of “experience.” Because I have the will and the energy to not only get a position but excel and become the best, I knew that it was time for me to return to school, obtain a masters degree (which is now needed for entry level positions), and volunteer at a hospital. Luckily for me, one place that turned me down was able to offer me an unpaid internship with them and for that I am grateful.

The key for me and for others in my boat is to be gracious, a go-getter, and keep an open mind about options. No matter how hard it is and believe me I have been to the depths, there needs to be that spark. The spark that tells you to move on, be creative and do not lose hope. There will be more opportunities IF and only IF you are willing to go the extra mile. So for those saying, “I am sorry you have to go through this” your reply can become “I can only emerge stronger and more prepared for the road ahead.”

 

Thank you for reading and I hope this helps!

 

-Seth

Just Another Worthless Tweet

Social media can be an unbelievably powerful tool for businesses, journalists, and common citizens. It can help businesses grow and connect with its customer base. It can help journalists post about the latest happenings in the world. It can help the common citizens both stay up with current events and also find their own voice. Social media can be used for so many positives but as with any other media outlet, there must be negatives that are inherent.

A friend of mine posted a picture of a front page news article in a newspaper about the death of Whitney Houston. Underneath it was a picture of American soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. The message of this picture on facebook was that while most of us are concerned with the death of a troubled drug addict, almost none of us are concerned about the soldiers fighting for our freedom and the right to continue to the live in the best country in the world. We focus on these artists that make millions of dollars and abuse their wealth and fame while we forget about what is happening elsewhere in the world. Even in our own backyards, police officers, firefighters, and others are risking their lives so that we can enjoy the comforts of living in a free and seemingly indestructible country.

I was flipping through twitter and facebook last night to get the latest news and sure enough, tweets about the Grammy’s were rampant. Facebook posts about Gaga or Minaj were tattooed on the screen. It is utterly disrespectful to tweet about these trivial matters while somewhere in the Middle East or in urban, suburban, and rural America men and women are risking their lives for us. “OMG, why would he wear that? What is that on her head?” They are artists trying to make themselves relevant again and in a lot of ways steal the show from the real people who go above and beyond to ensure our safety.

I heard a statistic the other day that I believe to be understated. The statistic was that a quarter of all tweets are worthless. I would contend that many more than 25 percent of all tweets are worthless. I am not a fan of “fluff” and of almost idolization of people that make millions of dollars not writing their own songs, certainly not singing on stage, and using auto-tune to correct any imperfections(there are too many to count).

My plea to all of you when tweeting or posting on facebook or whatever other social media outlet you choose is to please consider the audience and to think before tweeting. The same rule that your mother taught you, “think before you speak” applies to social media. It can be one of the greatest tools to expand your horizons or it can be the greatest fluff machine in America. Use it wisely, folks.

Thank you,

Seth

Music: The Great Conversationalist

Music As a Way of Life

If anyone has listened to music in the past 24 hours let alone 24 days, they should not feel in need of special treatment. Almost everyone listens to music on a daily basis, whether it is from the radio, ipod, computer or elsewhere. We listen to it during a workout, when we are working, sometimes even when we study or read. Music is everywhere. It transcends barriers such as culture, race, and language. Music itself has “saturated” society today.

Music is becoming more accessible as new devices are created or imagined. The age of record players and large boomboxes have come and gone, it seems, by the wind. Ipods and other portable music devices have taken over and wherever you walk you will certainly run into someone with those white ear buds in his ears. With this attention to portable electronics, one of the best qualities of music has faded into the sunset: Conversationalism.

Volume: Not Just a Physics Concept 

With iTunes or some other music download engine(can you tell I am a Mac guy?), the question usually is about volume and not about quality. How many songs can I fit on my iPod? Can I get my favorite videos on there and still manage to fit 10,000 songs? Who cares if all those songs are not good? Some songs get me pumped and some get me through the day. Ah! Here in lies the problem… Too many people cram too many songs are their already junked up iPod. I have fallen victim to this in the past and an effort has been taken forth to expunge my iTunes of the truly awful songs.

Hi, How Are You? 

Music is Conversation. How many times have you listened into a song, I mean really listened to it. How many times have you said to yourself, “this song speaks to me” or “this song speaks to when I was younger?” I bet it is quite a few times if you are a music connoisseur. It is not just the lyrics but the actual music itself. For example, a song in a minor key may elicit a depressed mood and consequently a song in a major key would tend to make people happy. You probably even have a “playlist” for depressed moods and one for the days where you feel on top of the world. This is good! This is what I will put forth as the key ingredient to listening to music.

A while back, my friend and I talked about how a song literally changed her life. She heard the words of the song and the overall mood and knew it was time to give up on a bad habit. I know I have had other conversations like this and I too have instances of songs that I label as my “depressed, I want to crawl in a hole” songs. We have songs we can no longer listen to because it brings us to a time we want to forget, we have songs that make us feel like we are the best person in the world. Why is this?

Because MUSIC IS THE GREAT CONVERSATIONALIST. When you are having the worst of days who do you usually run to before telling anyone? MUSIC. When you just got that promotion, do you do a little song and dance before anything? Maybe listen to your favorite song? Sometimes music (lyrics or song itself) makes you do things you would not normally accomplish like running a marathon or writing the best piece you have ever written. It inspires you and gives you pep talks throughout your life. We all can appreciate music for this alone. I hope that you all can stop and have a chat with five of your favorite songs. It is well worth the experience.

Thank you,

Seth

Rebel Yell

Just recently I took a trip to South Carolina to visit soon-to-be relatives. My parents and I stayed in Kiawah Island which is about 30 minutes south of Charleston. The place was a reminder of the southern architecture that defined the era during and following the Civil War. It had a plantation feel to it while providing world class service. The trip was educational and provided this blog today.

While my parents were golfing, because they tend to be more of the boring type, I ventured into Charleston for a few tours and some local cuisine. What I found was once again was the architecture was striking and beautiful. It consisted of houses built in the 1800’s and churches built much before that time. Naturally, since I am from Philadelphia, I compared the architecture and style of houses in Charleston with that of Philadelphia. The houses were more individualized and well kept in Charleston and were not made from brick. The city itself, while much smaller than Philly, provided ample places to eat and to tour and walk around. The tours of both Charleston and Fort Sumter were educational and informative. They provided the background I needed to fulfill my trip to yet another city. After touring, my meal at “High Cotton” in downtown Charleston fulfilled my hunger and taste buds.

Overall the trip was great and I learned a lot about our nation’s history along with the southern prospective on the Civil War and events leading up to it. What struck me most again was the architecture. I will provide a picture for you but I would like to get your take on this beautiful style that pervades the south. I believe it is much prettier and individualized than Philadelphia. Sometimes I think I was a southerner in a previous life….

Typical in Charleston, SC

Mirrored

While I usually come up with a topic while driving..because, let’s face it, I spend most of my time driving or in my car (23,000 miles in a year is a good amount), I came up with this one while on my new iPhone. Yes, many of you have them and some even have the new 4GS. On this phone there is a function of the camera that allows one to look at oneself, creating a mirrored image. I thought deeper into this and I wanted to make this observation:

Since everyone cannot observe themselves doing what it is they do on a daily basis, what if, like in Scrooge’s case, a spirit or some entity showed you YOUR past? What would it look like? Would you have things about yourself you would want to change? If we were watching ourselves in the past, present, and future, would we have as many people repeatedly making the same mistake? Would you change as a result? If you looked into that camera and saw yourself as a child, adolescent, or even adult, what changes would you make?

For me, I know that there are certain decisions I have made that I would like to have back as far as schooling is concerned and also some of my actions. Nobody is perfect and we all have our flaws, but it is the successful human being that can recognize these flaws and continue their life in the right direction.

I ask you who follow me or want to comment to please answer the questions I ask above. What more could your life be if we had a constant reminder of past events (as harrowing as that sounds)?

Thank you all,

Seth