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How would you edit Bill O'Reilly's advice to young people?

Held on October 6th, "The Rumble 2012" was a debate between US television personalities John Stewart and Bill O'Reilly, in the style of a US Presidential election debate. At closing, the conservative pundit O'Reilly gave the following advice to young people: "Work hard, be honest, get off the 'net, go outside, travel as much as you can, find your passion, find what you're good at, and make money doing it." How would you edit that advice to advocate that young people "Work on Purpose" and use those talents and passions to drive social change? 
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In this case, I wouldn’t edit it; but, I would clarify it. If young people truly find their passion and what they’re good at, they will be driving social change. Whether they make money in the process or not is immaterial, as is their motivation. 


Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, Chairman and CEO of Nestle, put it this way, “We believe that the true test of a business is whether it creates value for society over the long term. This is particularly true in developing countries, where we often need to improve business conditions, improve the capabilities of farmers, create a skilled workforce and develop improved standards in order to operate successfully.” (See Foundation Strategy Group (Geneva, Switzerland) and Nestle S.A., Public Affairs. “The Nestle concept of corporate social responsibility — as implemented in Latin America.” Geneva: March 2006.) <http://www.nestle.com/Common/NestleDocuments/Documents/Library/Documents/CorporateSocialResponsibility/Concept-Corp-Social-Responsibility-Mar2006-EN.pdf>    

Dan Pallotta provides further perspective on this in his September 27, 2012 article, “Change the World Without Losing Yourself,” in Harvard Business Review’s HBR Blog Network. http://blogs.hbr.org/pallotta/2012/09/change-the-world-without-losin.html

Answered almost 2 years ago exdir1 143 from United States
almost 2 years ago liza said:
 

You have a good point, but I’m not sure I agree with your statement: “If young people truly find their passion and what they’re good at, they will be driving social change.” Yes, business and improved business practices can create value for society. But not all enterprises prioritize that, and not all young people think that way or direct their efforts towards working to drive social change. There are a lot of people who see business and work as a way to make money to buy things and don’t make the connection that you can make money and have positive impact at the same time.

I believe that you can work hard and make money AND “Work on Purpose,” so we agree there. But if you were talking to a young person who hasn’t even considered the concept, would you share with them the same link from Nestle? Or is there another way to explain how working hard and making money can be good for society, too?

(Can you try re-posting that second link? Looks like it’s to a local file on your computer, not a page on the web.)

almost 2 years ago exdir1 said:
 

Here’s the correct link to Dan Pollotta’s article (I’ve also corrected it above):

http://blogs.hbr.org/pallotta/2012/09/change-the-world-without-losin.html

I do agree with you that not everyone connects the dots between making money and simultaneously having a positive impact on society; I also agree that not all enterprises prioritize the creation of shared value.

But, I also believe it is important for young people to do what they love — what they are good at and what they have a passion for. I believe that many of the great advances in society have been made by individuals pursuing their passion — even where they had no concept of “doing good” per se. As Dan Pallotta points out in his article, this is true of many of the technological advances that have positively impacted society.

Take the ubiquitous cell phone, for example. In 1973, a team led by Martin Cooper, an exec with Motorola, developed the Motorola DynaTAC to gain a strategic advantage over Motorola’s competitor AT&T. While Cooper most likely saw the potential future of the cell phone market, he could not have envisioned that, nearly thirty years later, the cellular phone would be a critical tool in poverty alleviation in countries at the Base of the Pyramid (BoP). Back in early 2007, Dr. Al Hammond, a member of the Leadership Group at Ashoka, wrote, “It is still not widely appreciated that the rapid spread of mobile telephony, and the only slightly slower spread of Internet services, have over the past 6 years transformed the lives of more people at the BOP than all of the world’s development projects together.” (See Hammond, Al. “TN4B: How Mobile Phone Companies Have Cracked the BOP Code.” Next Billion. March 21, 2007. (Blog post.)) http://www.nextbillion.net/blogpost.aspx?blogid=604

This is not a unique example. Today, an increasing number of companies are realizing that the BoP provides an opportunity to grow sales, increase brand loyalty, and create new markets for their products. Not all (and possibly not even most) of these companies are purposefully attempting to drive social change. Nonetheless, to achieve their business objectives, they must find new ways to make products that meet the needs and demands of the poor, and to make those products both available and affordable to those living on under $2 per day. Not only is this race to the BoP market driving technological and commercial innovation and change, the market competition is driving down the costs of, and opening access to, goods the poor need and want. Perhaps more importantly, it is beginning to change the way the world views those living in extreme poverty — from aid recipients to empowered consumers; in so doing, it is serving to give the poor a voice and a choice in the goods and services they buy and use.

So, in answer to your question, that is what I would tell young people. I think they need to see that doing whatever they are passionate about will drive social change, whether or not they do so purposefully. As a change agent, they can choose whether or not to “work on purpose.” By choosing the former they may be able to engender and direct even greater impact; by the later, they may never know, control, or be able to capitalize on the changes they have effected. (This is what I was alluding to in my original response when I said “I wouldn’t edit [O'Reilly’s statement]; but, I would clarify it.” The two articles were intended to frame that clarification.)


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I think Bill O'Reilly’s advice is great, but I would make this one, small edit: “… travel as much as you can, find what you’re good at, improve at what you’re not, find your passion, and make money doing it.”


I know many will disagree with me on this, but I think way too many people follow their passion too soon without at least taking smaller strategic steps first. Some fail unnecessarily and never try again, which I also think is a mistake. “If only I had worked in a restaurant before trying to open an environmentally-sustainable one in a low-income neighborhood!” Maybe not the best example, but you get my point: Find what you’re good at first and improve at what you’re not, before following your passion.

I believe that we all have natural strengths and natural weaknesses. We learn most about our weaknesses through failure. Failure is a “good thing.” People hate hearing that who have just failed – I didn’t like it when I couldn’t get a loan from any bank to start my social enterprise, for example. Friends and family said “Oh this is a good thing – you’ll learn a lot from it.” Oh, how I hated hearing such true words. 

But, let’s be clear, that doesn’t mean “seek failure” either! I think you should do everything you can to avoid it, and, to me, that means improving your skill set through various exercises and experiences first. This helps us to better prepare for failure so that we can get the most out of it when it happens. And it will happen in some shape, form, or another. If we fail, we embrace it and we can better pinpoint the issue.

Same thing said differently: “think (and improve) before you jump.” With all due respect to the spirit behind the phrase “Follow your passion”, I think you should do everything you can to improve your core skill set and broaden your experiences first before you do that. At some point, you become ready to follow your passion having solidly identified it and prepared for it. But it requires patience, and, to some extent, faith.

Of course, there are exceptions: If there is extremely high potential for financial gain or, more relevantly, there is extraordinary urgency for a social problem and you are confident in your innovative solution. In those cases, you may not have the luxury of time to improve your chances – I simply say “think before you jump.”
Answered over 1 year ago jchen 26 from United States

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