If I Gave Your Graduation Speech -Uncle Chad (My TED talk)



It happened probably 10 years ago.  I remember running home and frantically writing down a million ideas that were flowing into my head in an attempt to keep them –  It seemed that for each idea I had,  I lost the train of thought on the previous 3.

The Book my head was exploding out was tentatively called “Tips from Uncle Chad” and although it never came to be, it has spawned 100’s of notes and papers and lectures.

I could and would write my own TED talk with this idea in mind.

I was probably 30 at the time with no kids of my own but seemed to relate well with them through my clinic and coaching, personal training and the ever burning desire to never grow up nor get old.   Here’s how it all went down..

A 17 year old girl was in my clinic having her elbow and shoulder looked at.  She was discussing much everything hurt but it came through quite clearly how emotionally down she was.    Not from her pain in her arm but the pain of having been dumped the night before the homecoming dance.   Her joy and happy anticipation of a great night shattered by some punk 18 year old.  This dude had crushed her.

Her dad was in a chair in the same room looking over his cell phone at stocks or emails or whatever is important for a business class suit and tie wearing guy and without looking up told her, “that high school stuff;  prom, boys, friends… none of that is important.”

Boom, my head exploded with ideas.

Here I was caught in the middle, a crazy time of my life where I had friends that were parents and also friends that were kids in high school and college  — I remember one trip I took to a lake house and my wife and I weren’t sure if we were guests of the kid or his mom.   We spent most of the weekend with recently graduated high school senior and his 5th grade sister but we had a glass of wine with the mom at night.   At one point I distinctly remember shouting “Don’t tell your mom!” during a disastrous jet ski incident that shall forever remain clouded in controversy.

back to Uncle Chad…the idea of the book was to be an mediation between the young adult world and the so called real adult world.     The homecoming dance?  Really?  Not important?  It sure as hell was important for that dad back when he was in school.  It was for me.  So was high school football,  My hair style, a new pair of Jordans and a super pimped out red leather Adidas jacket that sprang my mom to the “cool mom” status before all my friends.

And what about her?  – Do you think she really cares about adult stuff….401K, deadlines and bills and how much per month the iPhone costs.   not really.

The importance and relevance comes from where we are at that particular time in our life.

Not to brag, but I think I still have a strong grasp on this concept and do a great job being between and back and forth the age groups.  I have to be to survive a career of working with kids this age and still putting food on the table as a parent in my adult life.  I think the idea for the book is still super strong and needed.  I would make it rich in sales and best seller lists – but alas, I am now older.  I have kids and am no longer at the in-between age enough to make the whole idea non-hypocritical and cheesy.

I will however share what I think about the graduating HS class of 2019.   A few tricks of the trade from someone who isn’t your father but maybe has some years of experience and a unique slant on life.    I hope you all had a real life uncle like this to call on.  I did and still call him for ideas and advice.

And if some school out there needs me in the next month!  I’m here for you baby – contact my agent (wife) and lets book this show!

If I was to speak to the graduating class here it what I would profess…

This generation,  at this time frame in the United States, is sitting in maybe the most remarkable time frame in history.    The way the world works, the information available, the internet, the speed of conversation has taken the third planet from the sun and in essence  – made it a small village.  We are able to communicate ideas, thoughts, even emotions and opinions instantly – with whomever we want.

The technology and speed of development means a new world, but not something you are uncomfortable with or at any means foreign to at all.  You’ve grown up with it.  Its not the weird at all but your norm.

The United States is so incredibly blessed and amazing that we are virtually all without true social stature.  Maybe for the first time in Human History.

Most every person in the US has a home, a car, a phone and a job.  Look, Its not perfect, 300 million people cohabitating cannot be perfect – but you have to have some degree of stubborn (that job is beneath me), lack of will power, or mental condition to not be doing OK.     I am not an ostrich with my head in the sand, I understand the dichotomy of more or less money and power.  It’s real –  but step back a second and look at it from your great great grandparents standpoint or from the nomad in Africa is that’s a better visual.

What do the rich guys have you don’t?

a phone?  shelter?  food? (most of us are fat) …access to health care and a real hospital?   Water safe enough to drink?  Look guys, we’re from the USA..we have it really really good here.    I understand the difference between a Ferrari and a POS 1995 beat up Mazda but they both get you down the road and to work.

And really what does the real money get you anyway?   A bigger house,  a bigger car, a newer phone the latest and coolest is nice but not necessarily a huge social status deal.    There was a day when a 50 inch TV meant something.  man, that guys has $$! But today they are all at Walmart for $200 and are 70 inches!

In my high school when GUESS jeans came out at $100/pair and Jordans were a status symbol, you were ballin’ if you had that brand.    Now, probably not much.  Anyone you know truly care what brand of jeans I’m wearing.     I mean, an old beat up pickup is RETRO – it’s cool to drive now.    I’m not saying social status isn’t real.  For God’s sake when I was your age I was captain of the team and superjock – I’m hyper aware it’s real.    I’m just saying its way overrated and at the next step  – much, as a young adult and professional it is  less important and between the have and have nots the lines are blurred more now more than ever.

So what does a blur in social status equate to?    My hypothesis?   Your’s will be the first generation to reverse engineer your trade, work and career.    There are a few reasons why.

You will pick lifestyle over money and the dividends will be HUGE!

Back in my day, (crusty old man voice) my HS counselor, college advisor and influential adults I asked would push us to get a high paying job.    “You’ll make more money.”

Like the money would bring the happiness and fulfill my wishes.    OK hold on for a sec.  This blog is not the “money doesn’t equal life” rah rah forum.   Uncle Chad wouldn’t lie to you like that.  Money can really help bring fun, toys, trips and other means to satisfaction.  Money is important.

But not like it used to be.     Your generation will reverse engineer it all.

Imagine the LIFESTYLE YOU WANT.  Sitting on a beach, the ability to go surfing whenever you want.   The ability to go on a hike in the mountains and sit on a rock watching a rainbow form.  Foreign trips, watching every single time your kid gets up to bat in tee ball.   A happy family that plays together.    Whatever is your thing.  Really put into detail whatever your lifestyle should look like.

Now, how does it take to make that happen?

It will take being flexible in work hours, the ability to communicate mobily , maybe you’ll have to invent a job that can do that.  Maybe you’ll share information, who knows. (thats what I’m trying to do with this site!)

Some facts are concrete however.  You will need to make money, you most likely will work for someone (even self employed work for their costumers).  Start to figure out the hows, the whys, the cost and you’ll most likely come up with a much more focused and exciting path.   The idea of you’ll never work a day in your life if its something fun is a lie.  Its work, but work can still be fun.

The idea that your job hasn’t even been invented yet is real..   Grab it.

The second reason your generation hit the jackpot.    You can survive and thrive with a skillset.    It’s not just for the doctors and lawyers (man those guys work a lot of hours!) Vocation, trade skills are at an all time premium.  No one knows how to do anything.

For instance, I cant fix my washing machine when it breaks.  The guy that can –  he charges me $100/hr to do it and I’m happy to pay him as I don’t possess that skillset.   Welders, plumbers, electricians they have got me one upped.    If you have a skill,  you own something that fewer and fewer have then the way up the success ladder is to just show up every day and pass the drug test!

To add to this – If you are cool being in a business that is not usually considered desirable (think of every episode of Dirty Jobs) even better, the competition is low and easy to become world class expert level!

Don’t believe me – ask around.   I knew a big wig with over a 1 million dollar/year job at a oil company that started as a grunt turning valves with a hammer.    As the years went along, he showed up everyday.  Didn’t skip work.  Didn’t do drugs or show up an hour late and hungover.    He developed the reputation as a do-er and worked his way up the chain.  All of the sudden he’s the top guy on the totem pole.  He knows every nook and cranny and how to do every job.   Better still he knows how to do it better than anyone else to and has a track record of actually caring.

He understood true Disipline.     Never did he tell me he was the best.  He just had discipline in a time where it’s at an all time low in the corporate and vocational world.  You need to understand, my generation and the one older than me has this idea that you guys are a bunch of slackers.   Is it true?  Don’t lie to yourself,

If it is true, if your generation is lazy and wont work or show up than even better for you that will – look around, can you be better than the person sitting beside you?

I’m telling this generation…We have it so sweet in the US that just getting up and going to work every day will land you in a heap of success.  IT’S THAT EASY!

Its not overnight, you’ll need to put in your time.  You most likely won’t hit the lottery you think is waiting for you or land that NBA career that pays 100 million but hey! You don’t have to be a millionaire by 30 AND more importantly you don’t NEED to because you can get all the stuff you need for way less than millions.

(insert applause and square caps thrown)










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