Monday, July 23, 2007

The World is Your Oyster: Cow Prodding Teens to Success

Amy Cortez, Editor -- The Eclectic Telelgraph

How many times have you had this discussion with your teen?

You: "You pay entirely too much attention to [your favorite worthless pursuit goes here], it will never get you anywhere."

Your Teen "So, I am only [his age], this is what I want to do right now. There is plenty of time to get serious." [or some version of this response].

When we were in St Barths in February we saw the ugliest sailboat in the world. It was ugly. So ugly I didn't photograph it or give it much thought until recently when I saw an article in Newsweek about that very sailboat. To use a quote from that article, "If Darth Vadar had an intergalactic yacht, this is what it would look like." I bring this sailboat into this discussion because as it turns out it belongs to Tom Perkins. You may be wondering who Tom Perkins is. From the article in Newsweek:

In the risky business of funding fledgling entrepreneurs, Perkins performed the alchemy of turning millions into billions. He transformed the art of venture capital—from the passive hobby of dilettante bluebloods into a cutthroat profession that produced a generation of Siliconillionaires. Perkins became the man to see in the Valley. In the process, he'd become fabulously wealthy himself and amassed great power. Along the way, in his larger-than-life life, he'd managed to be father figure to Apple's Steve Jobs, sailing mentor to media mogul Rupert Murdoch and the occasional muse to romance novelist Danielle Steel, to whom he was briefly married. Perkins even managed to get himself convicted of manslaughter in France after a collision during a yacht race. Late in the summer of 2006, he engineered the takedown of the chairwoman of Hewlett-Packard over a boardroom spying scandal in which he was the white knight or dark lord, depending on who was telling the tale.

Now, at 74, Perkins was setting out to transform the art of sailing and create a vessel through which his boundless ego could be expressed. His $130 million yacht, anchored in front of the palace, was the Maltese Falcon, a 21st-century clipper ship that was bigger, faster, riskier, higher-tech and more expensive than any private sailing craft on the planet.

Tom Perkins has been a character I've followed over the years, mainly because I came from the corporate America he funded - high tech. Tom Perkins, in his own way is successful. I wonder what his mother used to say to him about his worthless pursuits.

It occurred to me recently that even though our kids may be involved in what we perceive as worthless pursuits, they are involved in these for a reason. It is our job as parents, in my opinion, to get to the reason behind the pursuit. Is it a pursuit that will contribute to the success of this person? As the adult in the situation, it's up to you to weigh your experience and knowledge against the observation. It if is indeed a worthless pursuit, one that is brain melting, then intervene, otherwise, let them explore it - within reason.

But how do you know what a worthless pursuit is these days with all the changes since many of us born in the sixties were teens? Well, keep informed. Some of these pursuits may be addictions and just not the ones we are familiar with. There are many new things our teens get addicted to and spend their time on. The key to not letting this happen, or redirecting the energy is active parenting. Sometimes it's tough to tell your teen "no", or "you not going to do that any more" especially when you observe it is something they are really interested in. But one thing to remember, telling them "no" now, may mean the difference between a healthy future and one that will cause heartache.It really is up to you, the parent to develop courage, responsibility and character in your children. How you do that may just involve unpleasant moments with your young adult and that takes courage.

Developing courage gets back to our friend Mr. Perkins. It takes courage to be successful, (it takes courage to build a sailboat like he did) though I may not agree with how Mr. Perkins reached his level of success. Anyone you might name as a true hero has done something that requires courage. If they do not have a courageous act in their background, then they are not a hero.

Responsibility is what distinguishes children from adults. Show me an adult that has no responsibilities and I'll bet they are an unbearable person to be around. People who successfully manage responsibilities are interesting people because it takes intelligence and courage to be responsible. It also takes character to manage the many responsibilities of the adult world. Character is the most difficult, yet in my opinion, the absolute most important set of skills to impart on our teens.

You might wonder why one would teach character, well, because character is the core of a person, it is the sum of habits, attitudes and qualities. It is the job of the parent to teach character in my opinion. The Josephson Institute of Ethics lists Six Pillars of Character as:

  1. Trustworthiness
  2. Respect
  3. Responsibility
  4. Fairness
  5. Caring
  6. Citizenship

But it's not just the idea to teach these things to your teen, because how you live your life says a lot more than the words you choose. Live your life courageously, responsibly and with character and your teen will follow suit.

Video Game Addiction: A Medical Disorder?
American Medical Association Seeks To Have Obsessive Game Playing Declared A Psychiatric Disorder
CBS News, June 22, 2007

The telltale signs are ominous: teens holing up in their rooms, ignoring friends, family, even food and a shower, while their grades plummet and belligerence soars.

This weekend, the AMA will debate the report, which warns in particular about online games involving role-playing and never-ending quests — games like World of Warcraft, Everquest, or Final Fantasy, Sieberg reports.

Up to 90 percent of American youngsters play video games and as many as 15 percent of them — more than 5 million kids — may be addicted, according to data cited in the AMA council's report.

View a CBS News Video: Separating Fantasy and Reality
(you have to wait for some pretty annoying commercials while the clip loads, but the clip is worthwhile.)

Paintball Passions
Recruiters seek soldiers on a hot sport's battlefields.
By Andrew Romano
Newsweek, March 19, 2007

"Where else can you find young men who have a better-than-average idea of how to conduct themselves in a firefight?"

Though paintball won't replace bonuses or benefits as a top recruiting tool anytime soon, the fast-growing sport has emerged in recent months as a promising source of fresh fighters at a time when the armed forces are stretched thin. Keenly aware that paintball's 10.4 million participants make it more popular among Americans than baseball, surfing or snowboarding, Elder, a player himself, began trolling Long Island events for prospects late last year. After five "low-key" trips, his unit has signed up two new troops and identified another 50 who "seem interested." Recruiters in Minnesota, Pennsylvania, California, Chicago and North Dakota have also scoped out paintball events.

YouTube Video: 5 Ways to tell you're addicted to paintball

Hooking up is the rage, but is it healthy?
By Barbara F. Meltz,
Boston Globe, February 13, 2007

Hooking up has come to define sexual relationships for most of today's teens and young women. It can mean anything from kissing and touching to oral sex or intercourse. Vagueness is its hallmark. "A girl can say, 'I hooked up with so-and-so,' and no one knows what she did. It protects you and makes you a player at the same time," says Aparicio, who admits to her share of high school hook ups.
The most benign fallout from being unhooked is that young women delay dating and marriage. "The problem with that is they pick up a lot of bad habits that makes it hard to sustain a long-term commitment, like not being able to trust or share or know how to disagree and make up," Stepp says. More seriously, being unhooked can lead to depression, alcohol abuse, anorexia, and emotional disturbance.

What young women don't count on is oxytocin , a chemical produced in the brain to promote feelings of connection and love. Oxytocin is most commonly associated with breast - feeding; it's what helps a mother bond with her infant. But it's also produced to lesser degrees during sex. The more intense the sex, the more oxytocin. Males also get a dose of it from sex, but they get a bigger dose of testosterone, which suppresses the oxytocin. [read on]

Review: "Only yesterday boys and girls spoke of embracing and kissing (necking) as getting to first base. Second base was deep kissing, plus groping and fondling this and that. Third base was oral sex. Home plate was going all the way. That was yesterday. Here in the year 2000 we can forget about necking. Today's girls and boys have never heard of anything that dainty. Today first base is deep kissing, now known as tonsil hockey, plus groping and fondling this and that. Second base is oral sex. Third base is going all the way. Home plate is being introduced by name.

For Texting Teens, an OMG Moment When the Phone Bill Arrives
By Margaret Webb Pressler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 20, 2007

Sofia Rubenstein, 17, got in trouble the way a lot of teens do these days. Her incessant text-messaging racked up a huge phone bill on the family's wireless plan.

"It's whatever pops into my head. There's no stopping it," she said. "Sometimes I'll be on the phone with someone and I get texted, and then I'm having two conversations at once."

Last month the Washington high school junior used 6,807 text messages, which, at a rate of 15 cents apiece for most of them, pushed the family's Verizon Wireless bill to more than $1,100 for the month.

A Big Boatload of Ego
Silicon Valley's Tom Perkins builds the largest, riskiest, highest-tech, most self-indulgent sailboat ever made.
by David A. Kaplan

The July edition of The Eclectic Telegraph is out. Here's what we wrote about:

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