…only 54,000 new jobs in the U.S. for May 2011… what’s wrong with this picture?

June 4, 2011

As a college professor, I get to bask in the reflected glory of graduating seniors each semester…especially every May. Until the past couple of years. Especially this year. This year, I hear the same story from students whether they were graduating with experience or not, an engineering degree or communication, and high grade point averages or just average. No jobs. 

I feel their pain. I see it in their daily classroom attitudes. ‘Once upon a time’ is how they hear the refrain ‘go to college, study hard, and you’ll get a good job’… Maybe in the old days they say…

This in the same period of time as Oprah retiring and telling us all to live our best life… ‘Our best life?’ asks students whose parents sacrificed for them to go to college and may themselves be faced with unemployment or forced early retirements. How shall we define that life?

Of course, when there are no jobs, there is no health care insurance. When there are no jobs, there tends to be less healthy eating, as  fresh foods cost more and fattening high calorie foods are…cheaper and often comforting in the face of disappointment.  Higher rates of depression… So physical and mental health suffer.

And then last night I watched the ABC show, ‘Shark Tank’…wow! Inspirational, motivating… The person seeking money for his idea had invented a filter paper in the form of a “nose contact”–not his words exactly, but mine to help you visualize what it looked like if you don’t have time to go to the show’s online site and watch an excerpt. He did say that to insert the filter paper into your nose, you place it on your finger like putting in a contact…which seemed to be understood by all of the ‘sharks’–the panel with money to invest if they see profit potential in an idea.

At any rate, the paper is designed to filter out viruses and air pollutants. The person seeking money for his idea had a signed contract with another country for 8 million dollars and needed 500 thousand to produce enough product to fill the order. Well, to make a great story short, most of the panel wanted in… One even offered to buy the company for 4 million dollars and give the inventor a royalty. As discussion unfolded, two of the sharks teamed up with an offer, another shark made a separate offer, and then–they asked for a time-out and the contestant left the room. The latter three teamed up with a combined offer.

In the end, the contestant accepted it and did not sell his company. He now has 750 thousand in cash and three partners in his company…three partners with proven success in bringing innovations to huge distributions. This is an idea that is smart, solves a problem that is much bigger in many parts of the world than it is currently in the U.S., requires manufacturing–i.e. jobs…      

Perhaps this is a path of living our best life in the 21st century…solving persistent problems with simple solutions.

I am going to keep a diary of the ‘problems’ or ‘challenges’ I face each day this coming week for which I have no solution but have experienced before. I will add to it notes about my own observation of media reports that suggest others’ problems. I will listen for insights about these matters in conversations.

Perhaps you would join me in this venture. Let me know what you come up with and let’s get a conversation going about these matters…

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