Thursday, April 27, 2006

Boys and girls, finish your homework

I am finally working my way through The World Is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman. Actually I have only a couple of chapters remaining. Much thought has been percolating in my grey matter while I have been reading this amongst everything else going on.
Found this from the beginning of Chapter 6 on "The Untouchables":
So if the flattening of the world is largely (but not entirely) unstoppable, and holds out the potential to be as beneficial to American society as a whole as past market evolutions have been, how does an individual get the best out of it? What do we tell out kids?
There is only one message: You have to constantly upgrade your skills. There will be plenty of good jobs out there in the flat world for people with the knowledge and ideas to seize them.
I am not suggesting this will be simple. It will not be. There will be a lot of other people out there also trying to get smarter. It was never good to be mediocre in your job, but in a world of walls, mediocrity could still earn you a decent wage. In a flatter world, you really do not want to be mediocre. You don't want to find yourself in the shoes of Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman, when his son Biff dispels his idea that the Loman family is special by declaring, "Pop! I'm a dime a dozen, and so are you!" An angry Willy retorts, "I am not a dime a dozen! I am Willy Loman, and you are Biff Loman!"
I don't care to have that conversation with my girls, so my advice to them in this flat world is very brief and very blunt: "Girls, when I was growing up, my parents used to say to me, "Tom, finish your dinner --- people in China and India are starving.' My advice to you is: Girls, finish your homework --- people in China and India are starving for your jobs."
Like Tom, I also have two daughters so this strikes fairly close to home.
How does this message strike you?
PS - more on this book as the grey matter continues to percolate.
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1 comment:

  1. Anonymous5:24 AM

    Strikes me as reality. I have a teenage daughter who thinks she knows the world and she has an opionion for everything. I can't wait for her to really compete in the flat world. I've been guiding her and trying to open her mind but this is not something that can be taught without experiencing reality.