Soul Food for Friday Oct 14th 2011: Dollars for Scholars, America’s Changing Job Landscape, Fighting like Cats and Dogs & Wisdom Heart

Happy Soul Food Friday!

This Wednesday I experienced a San Diego educational community double header, first representing Mission Fed at the Dollars for Scholars Scholarship Showcase Reception, which was immediately followed by a UCSD Social Sciences event entitled, “America’s Changing Job Landscape: How Regions Are Reinventing Themselves.”

Dollars for Scholars

First, if you are not familiar with Dollars for Scholars, you must check them out! It is a nationwide program that provides educational scholarships for disadvantaged youth often in foster care or the juvenile court system. It is comprised of  nearly 1,100 locally based, volunteer-driven chapters serving students in nearly 3,500 communities across the country. Last year they raised $42 Million and impacted 41,000 kids in the USA.

More than $2.5 billion have been distributed to more than 1.7 million students through Scholarship America programs since 1958. 

Since 1995, our colleague at Mission Fed, Maurice Chambers has been the treasurer of one of the many local chapters-The San Diego Court Schools Scholarshi,p Foundation, aka Dollars for Scholars, which was created in 1986 to provide scholarships for Juvenile Court and Community Schools (JCCS) students that since their founding in 1986 have distributed an estimated 1,700 scholarships totaling $500,000 to deserving youth. 

We have been supporting them for decades and hearing the stories of the adversity these young people withstand to press on to become some of the first in their families to get to college, often becoming donors or mentors to this very same program for the next generation of kids are downright inspiring!

Wednesday we got to hear from scholarship recipients Sue Fang, Sherry and Andrea that because of Dollars for Scholars are able to go to USD, UCSD and SDSU respectively thanks to the mentorship and scholarship of this organization that does hugely important work right here in our community. The multi-purpose room in the Student Center at UCSD, where the event was held has banners featuring the likes of Einstein, Fulbright, Eleanor Roosevelt, Earl Warren, Thurgood Marshall, Roger Revelle and John Muir. But Wednesday it was Sue, Sherry and Andrea that were the most profound and poignant voices to be heard bringing clarity and definition to “multi” PURPOSE. Thanks to all the individuals and organizations that mentor and financially support this fine group of kids and the outstanding financial aid counseling they get to not go into massive student loan debt-currently over $1 Trillion and collectively higher than credit card debt in this country! 

Ok so once you have defied the odds and earned that college degree, what do you do with it in today’s economic climate? 

America’s Changing Job Landscape

“America’s Changing Job Landscape: How Regions Are Reinventing Themselves” featured thought leader Mary L. Walshok, PhD with a hard-hitting look at where America’s employment growth will come from, and how we can stimulate the growth our economy sorely needs. Dr. Walshok took us down an intellectually honest journey of the anomalies, paradoxes, contradictions and disconnects between higher education and effective workforce preparation.

Here are some sobering facts:

  • 3.2 million jobs are currently unfilled, even though 14 million people are looking for work.
  • 43% of college enrollees still do not have a degree after 6 years of training.
  • 90% of the new jobs created in this country are in companies that are 5 years old or less.
  • 50% of the companies on the Fortune 500 list were not on that list 30 years ago.
  • 33% of the 47 million jobs we expect to create over the next decade will require a bachelor’s degree and 30% will require a community college or skills certification degree. 

Clearly, there is a mismatch between where jobs are being created, the skills and credentialing that are required, and our current investments in education and training. Sadly, the United States spends less on workforce training than most industrialized countries and values it less!

Here are some realities and limitations of our current public educational system with far reaching consequences if we really want to be competitive on the world stage:

  • No foreign language and global skills requirements.
  • No meaningful work experience.
  • No project-based learning.
  • Rewards individual performance – not team work.
  • Absence of advisors/mentors in either the faculty or
    among practitioners.
  • Disconnect between those who teach and train and those
    who employ and develop.
  • Life-long learning valued only as a source of income,
    not as an educational commitment. 

To equip your 21st century learner, make sure you offset these limitations… 

In her new book with Henry Devries, “Closing America’s Job Gap” Dr. Walshok provides much needed answers after visiting communities all across America in her current research, funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, NSF and private foundations. Dr. Walshok, an industrial sociologist has been inspired and in turn inspires others to explore and learn from the way regions are reinventing themselves: creating pockets of innovation and economic transformation, often in unexpected places. Mary Walshok is associate vice chancellor for public programs and dean of Extension at the UC San Diego (which does provide effective work force training by the way) as well as an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Sociology.  

Tired of our politicians fighting like “cats and dogs”?

I think that is an insult to the animals!

We sometimes denigrate animals with expressions such as fighting like cats and dogs. This next clip makes us reconsider who are the real animals and what are virtues we might want to emulate:

 If only I was the person my dog thinks I am… 

In need of a soul food power bar?

My friend and professional colleague Eric Klein has a new (free) eBook- 50 Ways to Leave Your Karma: Freedom, Fear, and the Art of Getting Unstuck.

In 50 short chapters, Eric charms you with practical applications of ancient wisdom practices tailored to everyday life. The integration of personal stories with the latest neuroscience makes this an enjoyable and informative read. And Eric illustrates each point with a quirky dharma doodle that adds a humorous flair.  

This is an e-book so the author also provides links to personal practice that deepen ones understanding.

 You can get a free copy of 50 Ways to Leave Your Karma at: 

Many of you have heard me talk about paying attention to the all Green Lights in your life, as we tend to take those for granted but are hyper-critical of the Red ones.

Here is a sample chapter in which Eric reminds us to pay attention to the Yellow Lights in our lives as they have something to teach us too… 

How slowing down helps you move faster 

I was riding shotgun – sitting in the passenger seat. Aaron, my 20-year-old son, was driving. He picked me up at the airport and we were now weaving in and out of the afternoon traffic.  

Up ahead, the traffic light went from green to yellow. Aaron gunned the engine and I let out a yelp. 

To me a yellow light means slow down and get ready to stop.

To Aaron a yellow light means speed up and make it through the intersectionbefore you have to stop. We both recognize yellow lights as a warning. But this warning triggers very different behaviors for each of us. 

Yellow lights aren’t only encountered while driving around town. Yellow lights are part of every conversation you have at work and at home. 

Every conversation you have is dotted with conversational yellow lights.

Conversational yellow lights are warnings – signals that the person you’re talking to is:

  • Not following your reasoning
  • Not accepting your assumptions
  • Not understanding your point of view
  • Not connecting with your message 

How can you tell if you’re approaching a conversational yellow light?

Whenever the person you’re talking to:

  • Disagrees with your opinion
  • Expresses doubt or concern
  • Asks a challenging question
  • Voices an idea that you don’t agree with
  • Sends non-verbal signals of confusion, discomfort, disagreement, or disinterest 

These are all signs that they’re out of synch with what you’re saying. You’re not influencing them in the direction you’re intending.You’re not connecting with them. They’re flashing a conversational yellow light. How you interpret their yellow light will determine what you do next. 

Many people interpret a conversational yellow light as a signal to speed up.

They see the yellow light as a threat to their agenda. They
want to move forward, not lose momentum. They believe that slowing down the
conversation will cause them to lose ground. So when a conversational yellow
light flashes, they:

  • Talk more
  • Argue harder
  • Go into detail
  • Provide more evidence
  • Show more charts and graphs 

They do this because they’re afraid of yellow lights and they recognize that they’re out of synch with the other person. So they try harder and talk more in an attempt to accelerate through the yellow light. 

But here’s the problem. Whenever you blow past a conversational yellow light, you miss the opportunity to make a stronger connection with the other person, understand them better, and have the outcome you want for your conversation. 

When you hit a conversational yellow light – slow down.

Every conversational yellow light is a gift. Every doubt, concern, objection, or question that the other person expresses is a gift. By flashing a conversational yellow light, the other person reveals exactly where they’re stuck, uncertain, and how you’ve lost them.  

Their questions and disagreements tell you precisely what matters most to them.

Their non-verbal signals of confusion, discomfort, disagreement, or disinterest, highlight exactly what you need to understand them more completely.  

When people flash yellow lights, they’re telling you to slow down and shift from being convincing to being curious. When you’re curious, you naturally slow down to learn, investigate, and pay attention. 

A great way to slow down is to ask questions.

Show your interest, respect, and care for the other person by asking questions. And take your time. Ask real questions – questions that you don’t know the answer to. Take more time than feels “natural.” 

The more you slow down and ask questions, the more clearly, precisely, and deeply you’ll be able to address their doubts, concerns, and confusion. Shift your attention from making your point to exploring and understanding their doubts, concerns, and objections. 

Next, time you’re driving your agenda forward – pay attention to those yellow lights.

When you see one, put your foot on the brake, not in your mouth. Slow the conversation down, listen more than talk, ask questions, and deepen your connection with the other person. When you slow down, you’ll reach your destination much more quickly. 

Take a risk, change your life and pay it forward!


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