One of the problems of getting older, you stop watching cartoons and start watching CNBC. However as someone that spends most of his time teaching kids, teens and corporate teams about communication, team and leadership skills via Improv workshops and classes, I took notice when Taco Bell CEO addressed a question about unemployment in Teens and young adults (14-24).
CEO Brian Niccol said something very interesting that stuck out, kids need to get on linkedin.
This goes to something I tell many of my students at weekly classes and one off workshops at schools and camps. Your generation (14-24yo) are aces at social media as consumers. You tweet, snap chat, facebook, instagram and vine, but I bet most are not on linkedin or pinterest. If you are a young person online reading this, you should change that immediately. Learn how to use social media as business and marketing tools and you will have access to the world from your cell phone like never before.
Linkedin is the #1 social media platform for business. At 14 years old you may not see the need to be attached to that platform, but at 14 you are now ready to enter the workforce. Linkedin becomes an online resume and the perfect place to record everything you do of achievement. Win an award, take a special class, or graduate, you should list all that on linkedin. Here’s my LINKEDIN profile
Anyone in business or otherwise trying to sell anything should also be on Pinterest. Pinterest in known to be the #1 site for moms. As someone that sells classes and tickets for family shows, I have had a lot of luck putting up promotions. photos and videos on pinterest. SEE MY PINTEREST PROFILE
Facebook remains the big daddy of social media. Many “KIDS” have run away because mom is the now and making it so uncool. But Facebook is a great way to let the world know about you. Perhaps we (including me) put to many photos of food and self which pollutes the good information, but learning how to maximize this platform for business is key. SEE OUR FACEBOOK FAN PAGE HERE
Seriously I don’t know how we did it before the days of modern internet. I remember tons of time dealing with gatekeepers – AKA low level office admins on power trips. We spent way too much time and money on headshots and resumes. Businesses wasted tons of money on yellow pages and newspaper ads.
One of the other things Brian Niccols discussed, being prepared for the work force. He did not go into details. He did layout that corporations like his are often the first job for many young adults, and he feels responsible for teaching kids many of the valuable skills.
I recently visited my old high school for a class reunion in Gaithersburg MD. Touring the old high school I was amazed at the new facilities for vocational studies. I was always an honors student as well as music and arts type, so I did not spend a lot of time in auto shop, green house or carpentry centers. I assumed all schools had what my school had. Turns out we were only one of four out of 29+ schools in our county alone to have such facilities. Our class turned out genius robotics engineers, doctors and auto mechanics. Our ROTC program turned out some pretty amazing career military officers and police.
My school was far from top notch in our county – maybe slightly above average at best. But then again that county has always been ranked in the top three across the country. Last couple years Montgomery County MD and Fairfax County VA swap #1 slot for most number of students going on to college.
Today I work in so many schools that have none of that. They do not even have the class I took in 10th grade called “Oral Communications”. Say what you want about common core, test taking schools, lack of arts… All I see is lack of resource that every child needs to compete. Many do not even have a library. Many still do not feel safe in school or traveling to/from the building. And many that do not fear physical violaence, fear ridicule and rarely take a chance on themselves.
Take away all of these programs and you are left with students that lack basic communication skills. Communication skills are vital to networking, interviewing, selling, providing great service and managing. People skills make good doctors, teachers and managers great.
Yesterday I was teaching a workshop to middle school 12-15 year old young adults from Montclaire YMCA. Amazing kids – even though they would probably hate being called kids.
While doing World’s Worst, a young lady – seemingly scared out of her wits – mumbled something. Have no clue what she said. I screamed “WHAT?” And then got a laugh when I said, “Don’t be afraid, I am just loud and fat!” Making myself look like a fool lets others feel more comfortable looking foolish.
NOTE – If you don’t fear looking foolish, you can spend a lot of energy and time being successful.
She repeated her routine for World’s Worst Doctor. “WHAT?” So I said – see the person you are talking to. Deal with that. Forget about the rest of us. Lose yourself in that moment, in that place.
The student then started what I would consider a mini-monologue.
OMG SHE WAS AWESOME!!! Pretty sure NO ONE has ever given her the chance or expected her to do what she did. I HOPE she will go back and seize the day and life for herself based on her newly found public speaking voice and confidence. Before she left an re-enforce how proud I was of her work. I think the camp counselors took notice. They were AMAZING. Pretty sure those team leaders will go back and continue to re-enforce.
Compare that with a workshop from last week. I had similar break-throughs. Great kids. But right before leaving, the lead teacher said, “well clearly none of these kids will have a career in Improv.” She thought she was being funny. I think she should be fired! In 10 seconds she just unraveled EVERYTHING we accomplished in the past hour.
Bad enough when students treat each other poorly. Horrible when parents put down their kids. (My mother attributes her singing in public fears to Grandma saying should stop singing including in the shower). BUT TEACHERS ARE PAID to be our supporters. They are PAID to be our champions. Remember…
- If you have nothing nice to say…. SHUT UP!
- Be a part of the solution, PLEASE not the problem.
What most kids need is just one person in their life to teach them, YOU ARE GREAT and DON’T LET ANYONE TELL YOU DIFFERENTLY. If they hear it and believe it, they will stop being bullies, victims and bumps on logs. They will stop fearing failure and moving towards success. They will stop letting themselves be ruled by others opinions and rude comments. The will break out of the box “society” has created.
EVERY TIME a colleague, parent or teacher mocks their achievement, they put a nail in their coffin; they are killing the drive to succeed. I am not saying over encourage a bad artist. I am not saying lie. I am saying stay positive. Encourage growth. No one is WHOSE LINE IS IT ANYWAY ready after the first class. Most of the professional Improv artists are not ready for TV. Some are way better than those on TV. But all of us started with a day one at some point. All of us played some wrong notes in band at some point. All of us colored outside the lines.
NEWS FLASH: We can be blunt and supportive at the same time. Blunt honesty can still have a silver lining. “YOU SUCK” is mean and never blunt honesty. That and similar statements do nothing to help a student grow. Trust me I am as blunt as they get. But always form a strategic point to teach a lesson. We can point out mistakes and problems without chastising the creator.
MAKE BIG MISTAKES. Only way to learn is to not fear making mistakes. Removing ego and fear opens our minds to possibility. We absorb information and concepts better and faster when ego and fear are out of the equation.
Students need an environment safe from violence, but also safe to express themselves. I see students ridiculed for being smart by students then get ridiculed for being creative by adults.
All that being said, if you are a student reading this, all my rants can only do so much about the NAY SAYERS in your life. But what I can do right now is impress upon you to say, “I will no longer listen or be ruled by that negative feedback. I will consider all criticism at face value. Good criticism will be used to help me learn and grow. All empty nonsense will be dismissed.”
While visiting our programs in Queens Eddie Brill said “You can’t own” what the bullies say. You have zero control over what other kids, parents and teachers say. You cannot change the cards dealt to you. But you can seek ways to make the most of those cards. Master poker players win with the worst hands, bluffing a 2-7 off suit in Texas Hold ‘Em.
Don’t settle. If your school does not have the resources you need, go online and seek them out. Don’t have money for classes, find ways to teach yourself.
I guarantee you that YOU have more to offer this world than ANYONE has believed you to have. Bust down those walls of fear. Take some chances. Fall down. Fail miserably. Then get back up and take some more chances.
While in college taking a master class in Improv from Oren Sandal from Living Stage (Outreach program from Arena Stage, DC), Mr Sandal said (paraphrasing) if you don’t like the roles coming your way, create your own.
For me this meant creating an Improv troupe, mostly because I am lazy as a writer. But some of the best works have been actors writing a play or movie to create work for them selves. Now I get to work with amazing artist and teach amazing kids, teens and adults. Now I get to work on TV. Now I get to choose and define my destiny.
All I had to do is work hard and stop listening to all of those that said it cannot be done. It can be done. And the first step is to show yourself how easy it is…
Catch Walt Frasier this summer on TruTV’s “Friends Of The People” now in their 2nd season. Go to Netflix – RIGHT NOW!!! – to see Walter in Lilyhammer (Season 3, Episode 8) as the American comic performing at Steven Van Zandt’s Norwegian club. Also now on Netflix – Blue Bloods (Season 3, Episode 8) see Walter in spandex body suit in first 5 minutes as Arnie the Homeless Avenger. Royal Pains (Season 6 Episode 3) as the Choking Victim. Past credits include sketch bits on Letterman (9 episodes), Stakervision (MTV2), Naked Brother’s Band (NICK), Hair Trauma (WE) and numerous commercials including Dr. Oz’s Fat Pants. Theater Credits include Off Broadway, Touring and Regional Theater plus over 4000 professional Improv Comedy Shows with EIGHT IS NEVER ENOUGH (AKA LMAO Off Broadway. Improv 4 Kids, Improv 4 Teens, Absent Minded Comedy).
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