Thursday, October 12, 2017

If I Could Go Back In Time To Give My Teenage Self Advice, It'd Be...

What's up everyone!  So this October, on the 21st to be exact, I'll be a presenter at a youth conference in Pasadena, CA.  Called the Adelante Young Men's Conference, it hosts over two thousand boys/young men with their parents, other relatives, and mentors for a day of workshops given by Latino professionals.  I was super excited to have had my application (to be a presenter) accepted by the organizers.  The topic I'll be presenting: Success for Minority Teens & Their Friends.  That's right, I'll be sharing a few of the lessons that can be found in my book.

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I've also had a list of questions emailed to me.  For this conference, the teen committee came up with several important questions they suggest presenters answer during their session.  The first one on the list was: 

"If you could go back in time and give yourself advice as a teenager, what would it be?"

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Very interesting question, isn't it?  I think as adults we've all wondered about time travel into the past to give our young selves life changing advice.  Too bad Einstein said traveling back is impossible.  Into the future isn't.  Nonetheless, it's a worthwhile thought exercise.  What would you say to YOUR younger, teenage, self?  Below is what I'd tell myself and the applicable lessons this advice still holds for teenagers today.  So if you have a teenage son, daughter, nephew, niece, neighbor, etc. you may recommend they read these insights.

1)  Save 90% of your allowance, or any money you've made doing odd jobs, or as a work-permit employee your early teenage years, and...once you hit 18 years of age, get yourself a Brokerage account and put all of that money in technology stocks.

Specifically, I would go back in time to the early 1990's and tell myself: "There's this company called, Apple not 20 minutes away from here in Cupertino.  You know...Oregon Trail, the Mac.  Well, put all the money you can save in its stock when you turn 18 in 1994, and leave it alone until January 2012!"

Now my younger self may have gotten impatient, not seeing anything really happening to Apple's stock price for over a decade.  My younger self may have also panicked in the early 2000s during the tech bubble crash and sold the Apple shares.  This brings me to tip number two I'd give myself:

2)  Investing requires patience and a long-term approach.

So, the sooner you start and get in the market, the better your odds will be of building a profitable position in a stock, ETF, etc.  Stay in, trade little, and keep buying if you have 30 or more years and a core of excellent company stocks or ETFs.

3) I'd also tell myself: "Embrace technology, don't just consume it."

Change was difficult for me.  As an anxiety sufferer, change always gave me discomfort.  So, despite growing up in Silicon Valley, being there when Google went public, and even having college graduate friends working at Google, it still took me around the same time as the average person to pick up what Google was doing to and for the Internet with its search engine.  Here was a company literally making marketing and advertising incredibly affordable for the hustling entrepreneur, and I didn't see it.  I could've jumped on Google's blogspot in the early 2000s and have been on the front-end of building a massive following.  But alas, I was too busy working my butt off as a professional educator.

The same thing happened to me when all the social media companies began to democratize attention and fame.  I waited over a year to join Facebook.  I didn't have Twitter and a YouTube channel until 2015!  I didn't get on Instagram until 2016!  If you're not first, you're last!  Now everyone and their mother is trying to do the same...blow-up as an "influencer" in order to get sponsorships, speaking gigs, passive income from ads, and so on.

What teenagers these days should be devoting all of their non-school time to is Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, and Voice (Alexa, Podcasts, anything sound).  These two are the next big tech innovations that will make people billionaires.

4.  When you get to college, find entrepreneurial type friends.

I was such a nerd in college.  I spent hours in the library and tutoring center studying for my Bio, Chem, Physics, and other science classes.  I made the Dean's List three times!  And for what?  In the end I got my Bachelor of Science Degree in Bio Sciences and a great education, but I failed to make many friends and connections.  My networking sucked!  People might tell you that you don't go to college to make a bunch of friends.  Oh but you do, you really do, and the more the better, provided you can keep up your grades.

I wish I'd ventured out of my comfort zone, out of the science buildings, and have gone into the areas where the engineers hung out, or where the business and finance majors studied.  If only I'd have looked around for atypical college students doing anything entrepreneurial.  Boy would I have latched on for the ride and the experience.  Every teenager today should have some type of entrepreneurial experience, and I'm not just referring to the senior year Economics class project some teachers give as an assignment.

5.  Stop wasting time and help others gain time.

The one thing we can all agree we did a lot of as teenagers is waste our time.  I spent too much of my time watching television and playing video games as a teen.  I'd tell my teenage self to stop killing hours on the Nintendo game system unless I was set on becoming a video game designer or anything related to the gaming industry.  Whatever you do outside of school, it has to be in alignment with goals that lead you to grow as an individual, have better health, make money, or improve your relationships with close friends and family.

Then I'd tell myself to get creative about helping people save time.  What is Amazon if not a shopping time saver?  Uber saves people time behind the wheel.  Facebook saves people time from having to talk on the phone with their relatives or friends.  People want to save time with anything they can get their hands on, and the major innovations are simply a service or product designed to convenience the consumer.  Nothing is new.  Everything is just an alteration of what has been around for years.  So I'd tell myself to solve the limited time problem all humans have.


I could go on thinking of things I'd advice the teenage me, but you get the gist of it.  To be successful in life, you don't work on today's problems, you work and anticipate the problems that will come around 5-7 years from now.  You'll be first, and though you may have wagered on the wrong future, at least you can live your life regret-free.  Thanks for reading!

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