006 – Dan Miller, 48 Days to the Work You Love

Dan Miller & Steve Kurti at the Sanctuary

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[In This Episode][Guest Bio][Additional Notes][Text Transcript]

In This Episode – 10/23/14

Our guest today is Dan Miller.  Dan is the author of “Forty-eight Days to the Work You Love Preparing for the New Normal”.  He regularly advises professionals who have lost their way on the road to career fulfillment. Dan is on my community of 48 days.net now has over 14,000 members and is innovate in “Coaching with Excellence” has been always sold out. His Forty-eight Days Podcast, which by the way I have listened to for over two years now, is listed in the top most popular business Podcasts on iTunes. Today we will be discussing the changing job market and how that impacts the education students will need to succeed in this new economy.

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Guest Bio

Dan Miller, President of 48 Days LLC, specializes in creative thinking for increased personal and business success. He believes that meaningful work blends our natural skills and abilities, our unique personality traits and our dreams and passions. Dan is active in helping individuals redirect careers, evaluate new income sources, and achieve balanced living. He believes that a clear sense of direction can help us become all that God designed us to be.

Dan is the author of the New York Times best-selling 48 Days To The Work You Love, No More Dreaded Mondays, and Wisdom Meets Passion. He has been a guest on CBS’ ‘The Early Show,’ MSNBC’s ‘Hardball with Chris Mathews,’ Moody MidDay Connection, and the Dave Ramsey Show. Dan has spoken at the White House Christian Fellowship, and is in high demand at national conferences speaking on aging and changes in the workplace as well as at universities and churches. Over 130,000 people have subscribed to his weekly newsletter, his 48 Days Podcast consistently ranks in the top 3 under Careers on iTunes, and the 48Days.net business community is viewed as an example around the world for those seeking to find – or create – work they love. Book Dan to speak or check out 48 Days products at www.48Days.com.

Committed to personal priorities, Dan and his wife Joanne are approaching their 45th anniversary and have 3 world-changing children and 12 amazing grandchildren. What does it mean to be fully alive in your work? Many of us are not yet doing what God put us here to do. Dan looks at the changing work models and outlines a plan for integrating your dreams and your passions into your daily activities. If you’ve ever buried your dreams in an attempt to be “practical” or “realistic,” Dan will show you how embracing those very dreams is the most practical way to enjoy life and achieve the success you’re looking for.

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Additional Notes

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Text Transcript

Steve:  Welcome to the Table Top Inventing Podcast where we are seeking to answer the question what is the purpose of an education? Our guest today is Dan Miller.  Dan is the author of “Forty-eight Days to the Work You Love Preparing for the New Normal”.  He regularly advises professionals who have lost their way on the road to career fulfillment. Dan is on my community of 48 days.net now has over 14,000 members and is innovate in “Coaching with Excellence” has been always sold out. His Forty-eight Days Podcast, which by the way I have listened to for over two years now, is listed in the top most popular business Podcasts on I Tunes. Today we will be discussing the changing job market and how that impacts the education students will need to succeed in this new economy. Dan, thank you so much for joining us today.

Dan: Great. Absolutely. My pleasure. Looking forward to this conversation with you Steve.

Steve: So as I was thinking through this Podcast I realized there is a strange symmetry here with you being our first Podcast guest. For our listeners I first met Dan through a friend who had given me a copy of his “Forty-eight Days to the Work You Love” . I was only a few chapters in when I realized that this is a dangerous book, and it might change my life forever and that is how a year later I found myself  seeking Dan’s advice when our business was floundering after a couple of nasty bumps. At that time I wasn’t sure what direction to take our young startup, and Dan helped me to discover that what is my deepest passion, where my skills are, and how to start putting an economic model around our core ideas. And since then we’ve zeroed into our mission which is to inspire a generation of kids to be tinkers, explorers, innovators, and deep thinkers by giving them the tools they need to create, invent, and become world changers. I’d actually to begin by thanking you, Dan, for helping Tabletop Inventing getting started in the right direction.

Dan: Well, thanks. I never get tired of hearing those kind of stories about something I said or wrote that helped inspire people like you to release the greatest things that are waiting to be unfolded.

Steve: Your Podcast and the book and the web site, the online community, all the helped inspire someone like you to release the greatest things that are waiting to be unfolded. Your podcast and the book and the web site, online community all those things definitely helped us get started in the right direction.  Let’s just jump right in then.  Can you tell us a little bit about what you do at 48 Days?

Dan:  Absolutely.  You know I was raised on a farm, so I had a lot of hands-on experience.  A little bit of plumbing, carpentry, electrical, mechanics and all those things that I think are wonderful experiences to have as a child, but I very quickly thought that I bet there’s work I could do that would make it so I would not have to be up at 5:30 in the morning milking Holstein cows or filling hay bales in the heat of the summer, and so I have been on a lifelong journey of just finding or creating work that is meaningful, purposeful, and profitable.  I don’t believe that that is just one thing.  I think that can be a variety of things, and it certainly has been for me through my own work path.  But for the last fifteen years now I have had this wonderful pleasure of working with people who are going through career transitions.  People trying to figure out what their best gifts are and how to put legs on that.  A lot of creative people who have ideas but they are concerned that having a creative idea if they can’t make any money, and I again have had the pleasure of helping people like that figure out how to do what they love and have an economic model for doing it profitably.   So that’s what I do.  At this point I am a writer, speaker, coach all around that topic of how to find your best talent and then create daily work that is meaningful, purposeful, and profitable.

Steve:  Wow.  You must have an opportunity to speak to quite a few people in the course of a given day or week.  What gives you the most pleasure in the advice that you give to people?

Dan:  That’s a great question, because when I first started on this path and I worked with people doing resumes and job search and interview questions and salary negotiation processes, but I really haven’t done that in quite a long time because I found very quickly that my sweet spot is helping people who need a very entrepreneurial, very creative, very nontraditional kind of solution and by that I mean I have worked with a lot of physicians, attorneys, dentists, pastors.  People by virtue of their education feel trapped in what they are doing, and yet they’re not.  While we can’t take a dentist who says “I don’t want to do this anymore” and say just polish your resume and go get another job where they are going to make that kind of money they are used to making.  So it requires a creative solution.  Those are the connections that energize me.  Those are what get me up in the morning, is working with people in those situations and coming up with creative opportunities for them that they may not have seen otherwise.  I  kind of come alongside somebody and help them see with new eyes in most situations.  Not to add something that has never been done before and never thought of before, but to help them see what is already available to them and just look at it a little differently.

Steve:  That’s fantastic. How long have you been doing this?

Dan:  About fifteen years that I’ve been doing this as my full time focus.  You know it kind of snuck up on me.  It wasn’t like I sat down when I was 18 and said “I want to be a writer, speaker, coach”, and that never happened along the path at all.  It was only when I was about forty-five years old that some things kind of came together.  The opportunity presented  itself.  People started asking me for coaching, asking me for materials to help them in this process, and assist them in responding what people are asking for that I found amazing opportunities. 

Steve:  So over the past fifteen years can you give us a broad strokes overview of the differences you’ve seen in the job market between then and now.

Dan:  Sure.  There have been some major changes.  One of those being we’ve moved from production work to knowledge work.  That’s pretty easy to understand if we go back a generation how many people worked in factories, worked at General Motors on the assembly line.  Well those jobs have pretty well disappeared.  There’s not a whole lot of that going on anymore.  Most of the things that people do today are knowledge work.  Now that works to the advantage of everybody involved in my opinion.  It can be seen as a challenge for employers, because if they have somebody working in production work, when that person goes home at night guess who keeps the means of production?  The boss, the employer keeps the means of production.  When you do a knowledge work, things like we do today whether that is data input or writing or computer programming, you take the means of production with you because it is between your own two ears.  So it means we’re a much more mobile workforce.  People come and go.  The old idea of finding a job with the right company, staying there thirty years and getting a gold watch, I mean that’s gone forever. It’s gone.  It’s not going to exist anymore.  So people can move through and up in their career, even if they are changing companies every two years.  The average is about 2.2 years at this point.  That is a very different work environment.  We are also seeing the opportunity for people to work from a distance.  If I need computer programming done, a graphic design or data input, does it really matter if the person doing that is in a cubicle next to me, across town, or on the other side of the world.  So it’s flattened the workforce in many ways, made it very competitive, but in a positive way.  It works both ways.  There will be people competing for jobs in your hometown who don’t live in the continental United States, but by the same token you can compete for providing work for companies that are not in the same country you live as well.

Steve:  So I was thinking about that as you said that and just wanted to dive in to that a little bit deeper, because that is one of the big fears you know from outsourcing is that jobs are going to India.  How does the average person entering the workforce today navigate that? 

Dan:  Well, there’s been a lot more leveling than we may be aware of.  I mean fifteen years ago the average income in the United States was twenty times what it was in China.  Today it is less than five times greater.  A lot of countries that we considered developing countries have gone through massive transformation in the last fifteen or twenty years.  The only continent really that has not is Africa, and there a lot of reasons for that.  But most of the other countries, the Asian countries have all developed a lot.  So it’s not like there’s a big disadvantage.  I mean there are a lot of companies here in The United States who outsource work like to India as you mentioned or Taiwan or Indonesia, places like that.  But more of those companies are pulling that work back in, because there is not really the price differential in terms of getting competent work done.  So people here or there, what it really comes down to is being able to deliver quality work.  The old days of having an advantage because you live in the town where they have a position to fill, that’s gone.  You really have to take responsibility for producing results.  It’s not a matter of just location or geography, but it comes back to taking personal responsibility for doing quality work, and if you do that there are opportunities all around us.

Steve:  So for the new person entering the job force then, how do they position themselves in this type of a market?

Dan:  Well, the first thing is to be extremely clear on what it is you do that has value, and there are a whole lot of very, very disappointed college graduates out there because they lead with the fact that they have a degree and companies are saying “Oh you have a Masters in English Lit.  Whoopdy Do”.  What can you do for us?  You know, they aren’t impressed with just having a degree.  I mean that shows us, yes that a person has discipline, they were able to hang in there for awhile, but it doesn’t show us much more than that in terms of marketable skills.  So companies are saying show us what you can do, show us what you’ve done in the last six months.  We’d rather have that conversation with you than just see that in fact you have a degree like thousands and thousands of other people do.  And that’s the missing piece for people starting in the work place but people who have been in the work place a lot of times is that they simply don’t understand what their marketable skills are.  They are looking for a job, and that’s a very weak position in today’s market place.  Nobody’s going to give you a job just because you need a job.  You’re going to get an opportunity because you can show your unique value to that company or organization. 

Steve:  So from your experience in looking out across the people you interact with how much does the average student really understand about the marketable skills when they come out of college or high school these days?

Dan:  Very, very well.  We do a horrible job of preparing students to understand how to make themselves marketable, both in terms of skills that they have and in terms of how to present themselves personally.  I was in Taco Bell recently, Steve, and as I’m prone to do frequently with my fine culinary habits, and a young kid walked in and asked to speak to the manager.  He had stopped in the day before and got an application but hadn’t talked to anybody.  He filled it out and came back and asked to speak to the manager.  She came out, sat down.  I was within earshot of the conversation.  In four minutes she said “can you start tomorrow?”  She went back to get some more paperwork.  I asked this kid “did that really just happen?  Is that the first time you met her?  You had a four minute conversation, and she wants you to start tomorrow”.    He said, “Yeah man.  I moved to town two days ago and got to get a job to stay here.”  He left.  I talked to the manager.  I said “can you help me understand why you hired this young guy who walked in here with shorts on, tattoos down his arms and legs, ring in his nose?  You obviously didn’t do any kind of background check at all, no references, no credit history, nothing.  You hired him on the spot.  Tell me why you did that.”  She said “because he looked me straight in the eye, he was respectful.  It was “yes ma’am, no ma’am.”  I asked him if he could take the ring out.  He said yes, he’d be happy to.  She said “that’s really all I needed.  I need people who present that well personally.  We can teach them what they need to know.  I thought how interesting, just having good personal skills still opens the door more than you can possibly imagine.

Steve:  Interesting.  I wanted to go back a little bit in our conversation when you were talking a little bit about flattening of the workplace, and I wanted to ask a question how the internet has affected this, because we now live in an age where Wikipedia can improve our I.Q. by twenty points.  In this environment what are employers really looking for in new applicants?

Dan:  Well, that’s a great question to frame it like that’ because we used to think that education meant that we had more information.  Then when you think about it, you go back to when I grew up in a little tiny town we didn’t have TV, didn’t have radio, so the source of information was that red, brick school building in town.  They had the information.  For me to get information I had to go there.  Now it would have been a big deal if we had had a set of encyclopedias, because they have information.  We couldn’t afford a set of encyclopedias, so again the school was a source of information  and that’s what education was, getting access to that information.  Well now we can go to Nairobi Kenya in Africa and talk to the kids on the street.  They’ve all got smart phones.  They have access to any kind of information that the world has ever known.  It’s right there at their fingertips.  That has been a dramatic, disruptive change in what we thought education was all about.  No longer do those red, brick buildings have a captive hold on that education.  Anybody has access to it.  So that has changed education dramatically, and companies are saying anybody can use Google.  If we want to know right now there’s a lot happening in the Ukraine, what’s the capital of the Ukraine?  We don’t have to have fifth year olds memorize that.  With a smart phone you can find that in eight seconds and know what it is.  So accessed information is available to anybody, so what we have to have are marketable skills.  What is it you can do that has unique value other than being a repository for information.  I mean you may win on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” or “Jeopardy”.  That has no value in the workplace today.  There has to be something else.  What is it you do that very few people are able to do, and the more you can back that up and show that, the more marketable you are going to be.

Steve:  So in a practical sense in say an education setting, what would in your opinion the best way for students to start exploring what marketable skills are?

Dan:  Just by getting in the game.  I wrote a book last year, Steve, called “Wisdom Meets Passion”, and I talked to lots and lots of people who say “I just don’t know what my passion is, and they think that if they just go sit on a stump somewhere that, you know, they are going to get that bolt of lightning and they’ll know what their passion is and what they’re going to do.  You know passion in that way is more developed than it is discovered.  So my encouragement is get in the game.  I don’t care if you get that job at Taco Bell or if you are a greeter at Wal Mart or you get a job with Apple or Yahoo or anything.  Just get in the game, because those first few years of work experience primary purpose is not to develop a career path from which there is no escape.  It’s just to help in the process of clarity.  We see again and again and again somebody who’s 35 or 40 or 45 or even 50 who has an opportunity to take a fresh look at who they are, where they are going, how they are going to get there and they’ve realigned.  It’s a constant process of realigning.  This is not a process of figuring out one time and you’re finished.  Not at all.  It’s an ongoing journey, and the things you are a candidate for now you were not a candidate for ten years ago or five years ago.  There are going to be opportunities in the workplace five years from now that we couldn’t even describe today.  So we just can’t keep doing the same things we’re doing.  It’s a constant process of reassessing and looking at new opportunities.  People who continue that process of navigation will have opportunities all around them.  People who get stuck and hope things will stay the same are going to be disappointed.

Steve:  Wow, as an educator or high school counselor, how would you advise them to speak to students about career choices and marketable skills and finding their passion.

Dan:  I would for one relieve the pressure of having to make a decision that you are going to have to live with for four years.  That’s unrealistic.  I recently worked with a gentleman who was 44 years old and one of his opening comments to me was “Dan, I’m tired of having to live my life based on the decisions made by an 18 year old”.  That’s a pretty interesting way to frame it, and a healthy way to frame it.  Let’s take the pressure off the idea you have to choose a career path and that’s it.  I had a young guy once whom I talked to who had a degree in Criminal Justice.  I said, “Oh wow, that’s interesting.  How did you happen to choose that?”  He said on the first day of college we were in this big auditorium and they said “if you’re going into accounting, follow this lady down the hall.  If you’re going into architecture, follow this lady.  They were going down alphabetically.  I knew I had to pick something.  I closed my eyes and pointed my finger.  Criminal Justice here I come.”  That was the planning process that he had. And that’s ok.  We know that ten years after graduation 80% of college graduates are working in something totally unrelated to their college degree.  That’s ok, because that shouldn’t be the only determinant of how you spend the next 30 years of your life.  It’s just part of the process of clarification, and you have plenty of opportunity to make realignment and readjustment as you go along.

Steve:  You probably have the opportunity to know lots of entrepreneurs.  If you were to ask an entrepreneur if they are doing something now related to what they were thinking about at eighteen how many of them would say yes?

Dan:  Assuming that entrepreneur is like 40 or 45 at this point.

Steve:  Something like that.

Dan:  It would be totally unexpected if any of them said I’m doing now what I was thinking about doing when I was eighteen years old.  The process of entrepreneurship almost by definition means that you continue to explore and try new things.  That’s what entrepreneurs do.  You’re going to have somebody who just gets out of the gate and then they just do that.  Even these kids we see who have just out of the park kind of success and the kid who developed Googles Virtual Glass.  Well that means that he has the skills to take parts and components and put them together in an unusual way.  He’s not locked in to just doing things in a virtual reality world.  He’s a developer.  He’s a thinker.  He sees things that other people don’t see.  That can open the possibilities.  He could develop a scientific product that would cure cancer.  It’s a thinking process.  It’s not that they are doing one thing.  One of the things that drives me nuts is when we hear these statistics of glorified businesses fail after five years.  It’s a bunch of baloney.  What they are looking at is a guy starts a little landscaping company and four years into it yeah he’s doing pretty well but he says “Wow, it’s pretty easy to get into this business”.  There’s not a real uniqueness to what I do, there’s a lot of players here.  What can I do that would take me in a more specific direction?”  And so he comes to see Dan Miller, and Dan Miller says “why you’ve got clients who have a lot of discretionary income.  They would be candidates for water features, gazebos, and stand concrete.  So all of a sudden that little landscaping business is gone because the entrepreneur has moved into something more productive, more profitable, but statistically the government looks at that oops there’s another business out of business.  Well that’s nuts.  Entrepreneurs don’t fail nearly as much as people think, they just move onto new things, new more exciting things and more profitable.  And that is a healthy process any way we look at it.

Steve:  So as a newly graduating high school senior and this is the appropriate time to think about it because we’ve actually got a senior graduating out of our house this evening how do they cultivate this skill of looking at their life and adapting and growing every day and instead of seeing education as a you know one thing that happens during high school, one that happens during college, and then after that you work for the rest of your life.  How do you help the student overcome that view?

Dan:  We need to help people have continuing opportunities to learn and grow.  That’s really the key.  If somebody stops learning, they are dead in the water and it doesn’t matter if they just got a J.D. after their name or a D.D.S. or a M.D.  If they stop learning they are going to start falling behind immediately.  We have to reframe with our children what we describe as education.  In my own son, and congratulations having a son just finishing high school, that’s awesome, what a great transition point, new chapter no matter what.  When my oldest son was just finishing high school we allowed him to move to Boulder, Colorado.   Technically before his graduation occurred, but we worked that out so he got a diploma even though he didn’t walk the line, but he went to Boulder because he started training with the U.S. Olympic team as a bicycle racer and then went on to race in Europe.  He lived in Amsterdam for a couple of years racing with the Dutch National Team, and during that period of time people knowing I’ve spent a lot of time in the academic system, both learning and teaching, they’d ask me “Dan I’m concerned Kevin’s not in college”.  And I said. “well he may choose to go to college someday but right now he’s too busy getting an education.”  Well, they always got that deer in the headlights with what do you mean?  I mean, now think about it, what is more of an education having a child who lives internationally, learning to know cultures around the world, competing learning the discipline of a competitive sport, all the things that go with that or having a kid sit his butt in a chair and regurgitate what’s in a textbook?  I mean I would hope that we could understand education takes place in many ways.  One of those may be sitting in the classroom, but it’s certainly not the exclusive way to get an education at all.  So as parents we want to continue to help our children understand what a real education is.  The power of that being an ongoing process no matter what degree or lack of degree they have behind their name.

Steve:  It sounds like your oldest son took some time to hone his passion and skills, and this has been an ongoing journey for him.  This is a hobby or sort of for me.  Are you familiar with Maker Education?

Dan:  Yes.

Steve:  So in Maker Education one of the key points we like to bring up is this idea that when you build something it helps to learn about the world around you, and that process of building something give you real time feedback.  One of the important lessons we continue to call out to teachers and students in this process is that the first design you make is not that good.  I mean sometimes it is, sometimes you really get lucky and the first time you design something it works perfect right out of the gate, but overall the experience we have with students, with ourselves and life in general is that the first time we try something we’re not that good.  I mean a child starts to walk they’re not that good.  The first time we build our first kite or our first 3D design or our first doing our project is so-so and sometimes it doesn’t work at all and there is an experimenting process.  Do you feel that this process in Maker Education can have a positive impact on the skills and thinking that students can acquire?

Dan:  Oh, major, major, major.  I mean it breaks my heart to see kids coming out of school today who were protected by their parents from ever really engaging in a life, ever having a lemonade stand, or having a part-time job.  They were just focused on their education, getting a great SAT score, and now we spit them out at 22 years old with a college degree and they can’t change a tire on their own car.  I mean it breaks my heart to see kids who have such limited practical skills.  I mean they don’t know how to make an omelet in the kitchen or how to repair a leaky faucet.  You know or how to get the lawn mower started when it coughs a couple of times.  Those are just  life skills.  Those are not things where we have to get out of this idea that there is just one area that we develop you know and that’s our career and that’s it.  I mean I think it’s sad to see an attorney who can handle dispositions and depositions and you know being in the court room, but you know doesn’t know how to teach his son to hit a ball.  So when my second son who was one of those who was given every label that traditional academic organizations want to give kids who don’t stay neatly inside the lines so he was ADD, ADHD, dyslexic, bipolar, and all those wonderful terms.  So we pulled him out of school and school and schooled himself ourselves.  When he was 14 I bought a 1968 Volkswagen Karmangia.  We pulled it into the garage and again he was 14 years old when we pulled it into the garage.  We pulled the engine out.  We worked on the engine.  We pulled all the glass out, all the carpet, the dash.  We put new rubber around all the glass, new carpet in, rebuilt the engine, put it back in.  We sanded the body, painted it ourselves, painted it Porsche guard red.  Now think about what I just described.  He learned about mechanics.  He learned about physics.  He learned about electrical systems.  He learned about internal combustion.  He learned about a ton of things in a way that was appropriate for him to learn and none of those would have been possible if we had forced him to sit in a seat and read a book about the very same things.  I mean those things we’ve lost the value of.  We no longer have Home Ec and shop class and music.  Those things have somehow been pushed aside for this cerebral intellectual pursuit that ends up leaving people half alive.

Steve:  Wow.  So how is your son using those skills now?  You’ve had the chance to look very deeply and closely at his life and how he’s progressed through.  So those experiences of you know working on the Karmangia and having that practical hands-on experience of life at that early age, so how do you think that has affected where he is right now?

Dan:  Well, my son happens to be home here in Franklin, Tennessee right now.  Currently he and his wife and baby live in Nairobi, Kenya.  They are getting ready to move to Brazil to an island just off the coast of Brazil called Florianopolis.  They are moving there in a couple of months.  They’re the kind of kids you can drop in any city in the world and in 24 hours they’ll have a place to live.  They’ll have a way to make money, and they’ll be conversant in the local language.  I mean those are the things that he’s prepared to do because of the kind of background that hje had.  Now what he did, he went to Africa nine years ago and he started working with the most marginalized people.  There are prostitutes on the street helping to build micro enterprises to provide them decent income.  He’s become a liaison for other organizations in Africa and in other countries as well and in other continents as well.  Like the Bill Clinton Foundation and the work Rick Warren from Saddleback is doing.  Jared has been a liaison for them to help them to relate to the culture in a realistic way rather than the faulty way a lot of American humanitarian aid is done there.  But he’s become a voice for how to build micro enterprises.  Now this an interesting feature in that he comes back here to Nashville and he’s booked solid speaking at like Vanderbilt Masters MBA program, the Masters of Administration program.  He speaks to them.  They send interns over to Africa to work under his guidance in fully accredited parts of their masters’ program.  Now that’s pretty ironic because Jared has never spent a day in college, never had any interest in that, would not be a good fit for it, but now he’s teaching students at the masters’ level and speaking in universities around the country.  That’s the power of understanding something that really has legs under it and really has value.  But at this point he has a branding and marketing company, so he helps major brands like Coke-Cola and others position themselves with local cultures in a way that really gives their brand value.  He is paid enormous amounts of money to do that very thing.  So here’s a kid who had a hard time in school, never went to college, and he’s got this international kind of voice for branding and marketing, can go anywhere in the world, is in high demand as a consultant in those areas.  So that’s what I prepared him for, and I have no idea where he’ll be ten years from now.  But he has the ability to land on his feet anywhere and thrive personally and financially.

Steve:  Alright, so this begs the question in this context,  So in this context, what is an education?

Dan:  It is having information but more importantly knowing how to apply it in a meaningful way.  Having information is fine, but how can you make a company more profitable?  How can you define what it is you do that is going to engage your passion, your talent, and also have an economic model?  How can you go to Africa and work with the most disadvantaged people in the world without having just come back to Franklin, TN and hold your hand out for money from the rich people who live here? That’s not a good model.  Figure it out.  Come up with solutions that other people don’t see.  Create social entrepreneurship kind of ideas.  People who have the ability to do these things I would consider educated,

Steve:  Wow.  That fits my experience working in a lab and research for quite a few years.  Whenever we would have someone apply for a position at work with us I found that it wasn’t actually the number of letters after their name or even the number of years that they had been doing anything particular.  It really boiled back down to whether or not they had a lot of different experiences they could apply to the problem we had and that seems to have something to do with the idea that life is a lot more complex that it seems on the surface.  You know as a scientist I like to boil things down to one key point.  You know you have one input and one output, but the truth is that in life there is no such thing as one input one output situation.  That just doesn’t occur, and because there is lots of inputs and lots of outputs. really the only way to learn how to do something is to try it and get a little closer to the solution.  It sounds like that’s what your son has been doing over the last few years.

Dan:  Another thing that drives scientists , mathematicians, and accountants crazy is the idea that one equals three.  But you know and I know that many times that’s true.  It’s not just a neat formula.  Sometimes the things that happen and we have this possibility defy science and mathematical knowledge even.  And that idea of one plus one equals three. Wow.  When you and I get together and we both have an idea what we come up with is more than just the sum of what we each brought to the table.  There’s that synergy and to go beyond that.  Those are the kind of things that are open and just blow the doors off of opportunities and give us new ideas that we could not of even thought about four or five years ago.

Steve:  Wow.  that’s definitely true.  So looking back over our conversation here, how do you think students learn to build and invent new things?  What kind of advantages do they have over other students whose primary learning makes them proficient at passing SAT tests for instance?

Dan:  well, I just think they have such a distinct advantage.  My granddaughters is six years old recently decided she wanted her own camera.  Her mom and dad happened to have one they no longer use.  With the iPhones they way they are most of us just use the iPhone, but they had a nice little digital camera.  But instead of just giving it to their six year old, they said “No it’s $25.00.  What are you going to do to come up with $25.00?”.  We helped her out obviously.  We helped her come up with ideas and she ultimately decided she was going to make Poppy seed Muffins, and she was going to come to her Poppa’s Life Events we do here at the sanctuary and sell those.  She made her own sign.  She had a little Victorian dress on with an apron and hat and a basket for her muffins.  She made her own little sign and sets outside the Live Events we do here.  Now granted we have a pretty captive audience that is pretty generous with tips, but what do you think it means to her to have that camera now as compared to just having mom and dad say “well sure we’ll get it for you, we’ll go to WalMart and write a check for it and just give you this”.  They already had it, and they still said “no it’s $25.00”.  The process of her figuring out a solution for that, a way to do something that has real market value where people are willing to exchange money is a skill we need to be teaching our kids.  It’s not just about materialism.  It’s not just about being egocentric or greedy or anything.  It’s about the way the world works, and if we don’t teach kids that early on we really do them a disservice.

Steve:  Wow.  That’s fits right in with something we have seen time and again in classes we do with teens with out Maker Education classes.  Whenever a student actually builds something there is a much higher engagement and excitement when they build something and it works even if it’s a little clunky than they have for instance when they you know when they beat their iPhone game or some other game they have.  When they build something there is a deep sense of pride that “hey look what I did.  This is really cool”.  And it sounds like that’s what your granddaughter had that same experience.

Dan:  Absolutely, and that opens the door for a world of opportunities you know that other kids miss.  She’s going to think differently if she wants a TV in her room or she wants a bicycle, and those are skills that have real value.  And to me that’s  a real part of education, not just her ability to figure out the square root of 387.

Steve:  Well we have just about run our time course here, so do you have any last gems of advice for teens or teachers preparing for the current economy.

Dan:  Sure, and for teenagers I’m very patient knowing that those first years of work experience are very valuable and as I mentioned earlier primarily because it helps in the process of clarification.   lot of times when I see somebody 35 years old and they describe their work experience what they’re most clear on is what they don’t want to do.  That’s valuable.  That probably can’t be gotten in any other way than just getting into the game and doing that.  But I’m very patient in those early years of a career.  I mean a lot of times we have parents call us and oh my gosh my son is 22 and just graduated from college and doesn’t know what he wants to do yet, you know can you help him?  Or my daughter is 23.  She’s had six different jobs in the last two years.  Can you help her get on track?  And I’ll say, “Yeah no problem.  Have them call me in ten years.”  I really believe that those early years we ought to give students a lot of latitude in not feeling forced to define the one right thing, but to be very actively involved I doing things.  I think every student that’s going to college ought to be working at the same time .  I mean I don’t care if you get a B+ instead of A-.  I think there’s enough value in working while you’re doing it. For one thing I think you ought to be helping to fund that privilege of being in college.  It shouldn’t’ be a free ride for anybody.  That’s a topic for another day probably.  That’s my advice. You knowteenagers, get in the game, have fun, explore.  I’ll help you ten years from know to be much clearer on what it is that you really want to do.

Steve:  Dan, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with us today.  To wrap things up, tell our listeners how they can keep in touch with you.

Dan:  Sure, absolutely, thanks.  “48 Days” is kind of our brand and “48 Days” comes from my belief that that’s an adequate period of time to access where you are, get the advice and opinion of other people, look at the alternatives, do the research, and choose the best one, and act.  And that’s the decision making process that helps you break the cycle of indecision that I see so many people get trapped in.  Indecision is a crippling kind of factor, so “48 Days” because that “48 Days” is going to come right directly to us.  48days.com is the primary site.  A lot of resources there and access to my podcasts, blog, newsletter, and other things.  Then 48days.net is our networking community.  These are people who are saying “I do have an idea, but I need to share ideas and resources with other bright people who can help me accelerate my own pathway to success.  Those are the two primary sources that people can connect with us, 48days.com   48days.net.

Steve:  Well thank you and keep shining the light for us on the road less traveled.

Dan:  Ah Steve, I love that.  I’ll love to be the opportunity to be that light.  Thanks for having me as a guest today.

Steve:  This has been so much fun.  For our listeners, thank you for joining us on the Tabletop Inventing Podcast where we interview inventors, educators, and entrepreneurs to understand the purpose of an education and you can find us on the web at www.ttinvent.com that’s tabletopinventing.com or ttinvent.com and thank you for joining us today.

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