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Reading The Anti-Resume Revolution – Chapter 8

April 21, 2010

I wrote a little bit about The Anti-Resume Revolution on Monday. Now that I’ve finished it, I can truly say that buying it was one of the best decisions I’ve made recently. Normally, if I’m interested in a book, I wait until I can get it at the library. Well, unfortunately (or fortunately), because The Anti-Resume Revolution is self-published, that wasn’t an option. So I bought it. I almost never regret a book purchase, and this is no exception.

Positive upside of ownership #1: I don’t feel bad for writing on the pages, because Angela Lussier (the author) told me to.

Positive upside of ownership #2: When I realize how completely revolutionary and awesome the book is, I can lend it to the people who most need to read it.

Possible downside of #2: If I’m going to lend the book to people, maybe I shouldn’t write in it, so they don’t have to be distracted by my scribbles. Hmmm…

The solution? Write a blog post! Awesome.

So, Chapter 8. Chapter 8 is all about branding, and figuring out what makes you unique so you can market yourself. Throughout the chapter, Angela asks several questions that really helped me think about who I am and what I have to offer.

Question 1: Find a partner and give them the elevator speech of you. Talk for 30 seconds, and then have them sum up what they heard in one to two sentences.

For this, I called my mom, who is pretty much the best sounding board ever. Her sum-up was:

I’m currently exploring self-employment. I like helping people and I’m interested in Marketing, Personal Finances, and Education.

Question 2: Imagine that you got a call from Oprah to come on her show “for something special you accomplished in your life. What have you done either professionally or in your personal life that would warrant an interview.” (p.78)

My answer:

I am one of the youngest movers in the Education Reform Movement, and I’ve just written a book about Education Reform and I continue to work to transform how we teach our young people. And I did it all despite running a flourishing consultant business from home and raising two kids. My husband has been a big help and source of support and encouragement.

Questions 3 and 4: “What do I stand for?”and “What do I want to be remembered for?”

I grouped those questions together because they’re so big as to be completely overwhelming, and I’m not sure I can answer them. My brain shuts down. It’s like the thought experiment in a book I read recently (Maybe Made to Stick, but I can’t find it), where the authors ask the reader to think of ten white things. Most people come up with two or three, and no more. Then they ask the reader to think of ten white things in the refrigerator. That’s much easier, and most people can come up with eight, ten, or even more items that are white in the fridge. What’s missing in the first half of the experiment is context, a frame to narrow the process, and help kick your brain into gear.

So, instead of considering the HUGE questions, I’m going to answer a question she never asks directly: What do I want people to remember about why I do what I do?

Why do I want to help people figure out their finances?

Because when I graduated from college I didn’t have a clue, and I know I’m not alone. I dug myself a pretty deep hole, financially, and it’s only because I wised up quick that I have some savings and am only in debt up to my waist, and not my eyeballs. Even so, I made a boat load of mistakes along the way that could have easily been avoided. I want to help people avoid the mistakes I made, and I know that I can help because, unlike most people, I like numbers and spreadsheets and thinking about budgeting. And what’s more, I’m good at it.

Why do I want to reform the education system?

This is much longer term, but I’ve been thinking about it for years and actively working on it since I graduated from college.
I want to change the way we educate our young because we’re doing our country and our children a disservice by teaching to tests and limiting how and what they learn. I loved school, and love learning, but I meet so many people for whom that is not the case, and I think that’s wrong. School shouldn’t beat the creativity out of you, it should enhance your unique ways of being creative and thinking about the world. School shouldn’t make us conform, they should help us diverge. We’d all be healthier, happier, and more productive if that were the case.

And the final question from the chapter that really made me think is “What makes me different?”

I’m creative, enthusiastic, motivated, and empathic.

I love to learn and experience new things, I always see the positive side of things, and trying to envision a better future is a hobby of mine.

So now I have a few more pieces in the puzzle of figuring out what I’m good at and what I have to offer the world. Of course, I didn’t consider all of the questions in the chapter, because some of them didn’t seem relevant because I’m not to the point where I have enough information to really think about the answers. It’s a very thought provoking chapter, though, and if you’re in a position to be considering these kinds of questions, again, I highly recommend the book.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 21, 2010 10:29 pm

    I think it would be an easy argument to make that people who are different in good ways believe that diversity is good, whereas people who know other people whom they think are different in bad ways believe that diversity is overrated.

    I believe that education regulation at the national level must be aimed at making as large a portion of the child population as possible productive and beneficial to society 20 years in the future. This requires forcing children to learn a wide variety of basic skills necessary to be functioning members of our society. Our present policy for ensuring that these basic skills have indeed been learned is through standardized testing. If the tests were not standardized then the results would be meaningless.

    Saying that each child is special and has talents that should be encouraged and pursued is nice in theory, but is that really practical and reasonable? Is every child really so talented in some area that letting them skimp on mathematics, grammar, history, or social science is of net benefit to society?

    Teaching to a test is only bad if the test itself is flawed. I doubt that it is hard to argue that the current battery of tests is flawed, and that simply adding more tests in not a respectable solution. However, that still does not invalidate the former point. The point of tests is so that teachers will teach and students will learn the material and the methods tested by the tests.

    I probably have something else worthwhile to say on this, but I started writing a while ago and now it is much later and it is time to be done for now. Hopefully some of what I wrote was interesting.

    • April 24, 2010 10:16 am

      First and foremost, thank you for commenting on my thoughts and ideas. It’s always encouraging to know someone is reading what I’m putting out there, and I love the different perspective you offer. ^_^

      Developing Productive Members of Society:

      Education is about producing productive members of society 20 years in the future, but one could hardly argue that that’s what we’re doing now. The high school drop out rate was 16% of people 16-24 years old in 2007, and has hardly improved in the intervening 3 years.

      And of those who do emerge from the education system, they’ve mostly had their creativity trained out of them, in preparation for blue collar jobs that are rapidly disappearing. Those who are still interested and engaged go off to college where they learn to be professors and white collar workers, of which we now have too many, as evidence by the difficulty all of us 22-29 year olds are having getting jobs. And that can’t be completely attributed to the economic decline, because we graduated in 2005 and 2006, before the economy collapsed. And still could find no jobs.

      Testing:

      The results of the tests are meaningless anyway. They’re not an accurate gauge of how students are doing because all they show is how well a student memorized some information. Studies show that memorization does not lead to understanding. And those students who don’t memorize well do poorly on the tests, and are deemed slow learners. They’re not slow learners, they’re just different learners.

      And I would argue that standardized tests are flawed not only because they do not accurately measure understanding, but also because they teach students all of the wrong things about how life in the real world works. When, outside of school, have you ever had your success in something hinge on a test result? Tests (and the current way we teach in general) show students that failure is bad. But that’s not true. Failure is vital to success. If you don’t fail, it means you’re not trying. From failure we learn everything. And yet we routinely teach young people that failure is the last thing they want. This leads people to over-value perfection (also bad) or to stop trying.

      Teaching the Basics:

      I’m not trying to argue that we skimp on teaching students the basics, like civics, and math, and scientific inquiry. But what about the basics like art, music, dance, theatre? One of the reasons I am the way I am today is because of all of the support I got for my creative / artistic side when I was in elementary school. I got to do art on a daily basis, I got to draw, I got to dance, I got to sing. I got to regularly test and push past my own limits in a creative fashion, which has been a key factor in my development.

      I agree that it is important to teach our children a wide variety of skills, but our current view of what constitutes a “wide variety of skils” and “the basics of education” is disastrously narrow. One of the talents children come into school with (creativity) is the one that so many leave without. I challenge you to find a five year old who can’t draw a picture, tell a story, or make up a game without batting an eye. We are naturally curious, creative, engaged beings, and the rote memorization and logical approach that most schools take to teach children only serves about 1/8th of students; the ones who actually think and learn that way. What about the other 7/8ths of students. That’s a HUGE percentage of students to be so carelessly disregarded.

      And what we do teach of the basics like math, reading, writing, etc, we need to approach in a way that keeps ALL of the students engaged, that keeps them enjoying the learning process. One of the biggest flaws of our education system is that a majority of people come out of it hating school, if they come out of it at all. They have no more desire to learn, to grown, and that’s possible the worst outcome that we could have.

      Conclusion:

      We have no idea what the world will look like in 20 years. Things are changing so rapidly that we’re not even sure what the world will look like in 5 or 10 years. Not really. How can we say that teaching children the way we’ve taught them for the last 70 years is still the right way to do it? All evidence to the contrary, frankly.

      I would argue that creativity and a love of learning are two of the most valuable skills anyone can have when they emerge from the education system. We should be doing everything in our power to encourage people to find interesting solutions and constantly stretch to improve what they know. The lucky few of us who still know how to do that after graduating from the US education system will provide great benefit to our country and our world, but there are so many others that we’re completely handicapping by not similarly encouraging them.

      I’m not saying it’ll be easy. I know that it’ll be challenging, difficult, and, at times, frustrating. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.

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