Tag Archives: VA Tech

SerenDestiny #67: People Can’t Jump on your Bandwagon – If It’s Parked in the Garage


“If you don’t go, you’ll never know.” – Robert De Niro

Many of us operate with the opposite of Robert De Niro’s insight.

If we don’t know; we don’t go.

The problem with that?

By definition, with any new venture, we DON’T KNOW what we’re doing.

If we use “knowing what we’re doing” as a prerequisite for moving forward … we never move forward.


That’s where GTS comes in.

What’s GTS?

Let me explain.

A year after my son Andrew graduated from VA Tech with a business degree, we were having dinner.

Andrew had “lucked out” and found a job as an executive recruiter. He was the envy of his college buddies because he was working in a classy downtown building, making good money and working for a respected, well-connected industry icon who was arranging for him to do neat things like work at events with President Obama and Tony Bennett. Not the normal career trajectory.

Yet, as I looked into Andrew’s eyes that night, there was no spark.

In fact, he used a word I’d never heard him use before. Exhausted.

I asked, “So, are you going down to VA Tech this weekend to see the game?”

“Nah. By the time I’d drive down there, I’d only have a few hours and then I’d have to turn around and come back. I just don’t have the energy. I’m exhausted.”

Exhausted?!? How could that be? How was it that this formerly energetic 20-something was burned out?

I asked, “Andrew, what’s up?”

He said, “Mom, I want to quit. I know I should be grateful for this job, and I am, but sitting at a computer all day researching job openings and making cold calls is not what I was born to do.”

“What do you want to do?”

Andrew immediately became more animated. “I want to start a non-profit.”

I have to admit, this conservative person I didn’t even know existed popped up and almost caused me to blurt out, “Non-profit?! Do you know how many non-profits are going out of business these days because donations have dried up? How are you going to pay bills? What about health insurance?”

Thank heaven a wiser voice prevailed. I thought to myself, “Isn’t this exactly what 20-somethings ought to be doing at this stage of their life? Andrew’s 23. If he doesn’t go for what he wants now, he may never get a chance to later. Good for him for wanting to do work he’s proud of. I should be supporting him, not shutting him down.”

So, I said, “Andrew, you’ve always been resourceful. If you apply yourself, I know you can pull this off.”

You may be thinking, “But how could Andrew pull this off? He’d never run a non-profit before.”

That’s true … and that’s where GTS comes in.

GTS stands for Google that … stuff. (As you can imagine, Millennials sometimes substitute another word for stuff.)

Andrew thanked his boss for giving him that job opportunity right out of college – and then promptly got online and Googled “How can I start a non-profit?”

Up came dozens of resources – all telling Andrew exactly what steps he needed to take to get a license, find a team and get funding.

In the course of one year, Andrew recruited a team of 20 (!) interns and found a collaborative work space at the Affinity Lab in Washington DC.

It was the ideal environment to get other people on his bandwagon. Someone a couple desks over would ask, “Andrew, what are you working on today?”

Andrew would say, “I’m applying for a grant” and they would say, “Oh, I did that last year. You can borrow the proposal I filled out and use it as a template.”

Andrew never had to go it alone as he was surrounded by others who shared his vision and had his back … and front.

The result?

Dreams for Kids – DC – http://dreamsforkids.org/blankman/dc/ – has sponsored dozens of adaptive athletic programs for kids and gotten them off the sidelines and into the games of life. They have sponsored Extreme Recess clinics with the Washington Nationals baseball players, Capitals hockey players, Wizard and Mystic basketball players and United soccer players.

Dreams for Kids – DC has made a positive difference for thousands of young people through their Dream Leader programs in local schools and through their annual Holiday for Hope program at Howard University.

All because Andrew didn’t quit before he started because he “didn’t know what he was doing.”

If there’s anything I’ve learned in the past few years interviewing people about their SerenDestiny – a life where the light is on in your eyes because you’re doing what you love most and do best – it’s that PEOPLE CAN’T JUMP ON YOUR BANDWAGON – IF ITS PARKED IN THE GARAGE.

What do you want to do? What would put the light on in your eyes?

Are you hesitating because you don’t know what to do?

Remember – you don’t have to know to go.

Get online right now. Phrase what you want to do as a question and put it into your favorite search engine. GTS your dream goal – and up will come dozens of resources to help you on your way.

Whether you want to write a book, become a ballroom dancer or launch your own business … those online resources will tell you how to take your first steps.

Do you want this year to be your best ever? Do you want the light on in your eyes?

Don’t wait, initiate.

GTS what you want to do. And then get your bandwagon out of the garage and get moving.

SerenDestiny #7: USA Today Announces Their 2010 ALL-USA College Academic Team — and They ALL Talk About Following Their Passion

This morning’s USA Today article on the ALL-USA College Academic Team starts by quoting Julie Markham, a University of Denver grad, who says,

“I refused to give up on my dream – even when some people thought it was impossible. I believe in the words of Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw who said, “All progress depends on the unreasonable man. No matter where my journey takes me, along the way I hope to be unreasonable.”

If you have a son, daughter, niece, nephew, neighbor or friend who’s in college or who graduated recently, you might want to send them this link to the article. http://bit.ly/a7XpWm

It’s chock full of wisdom from these 20-somethings who already know the importance of listening to your gut and acting on your convictions. For example, Neha Deshpande of John Hopkins says, “Do things because you care, not for your resume or to look good. If you let your passion shine through, everything else will follow.”

If that sounds a little woo-woo, don’t worry.

As the article points out, the extraordinary experiences many of these students have had didn’t just “fall in their laps. Luck may have played a role, but the students laid the groundwork.”

These young people are already showing that anyone can set SerenDestiny in motion and lead a life you love if you make congruent decisions at Crucial Crossroads that are in alignment with your vision and values, and if you’re willing to invest sweat equity to realize your dreams.

As Jennifer Lamb, (a Virginia Tech grad – go Hokies!) says, “You have to make opportunies for yourself. When you find something that excites you, talk about it to the people you perceive to be most knowledgable, even at the risk of sounding stupid.”

There’s a particularly helpful section entitled “How to Get The Most Out of College” with advice from nine of the awardees that’s worth cutting out and posting on your refrigerator.

For example, Elizabeth Longino (UNC – Chapel Hill) says, “Throw away your ideas of what a successful college career is supposed to look like. There is no template or set of rules to follow. Seize on topics that are important and compelling to you and then engage deeply.”

Hmmm. Engage deeply . . wise advice for all of us.

What’s your best piece of advice on how someone could make the most out of their college experience?