Teens

Sample Chapter #3

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Are You Interested?

Interested: Showing curiosity about something or someone.

As you have probably figured out by now, I have had the

pleasure of meeting a great number of people over the course of my life. I suspect that I will continue to meet many more people for years to come. However, I don’t think you can ever meet, get to know, and stay in touch with too many people.

The people I have met are a very diverse group. They come from all walks of life, which is probably what makes them so interesting to me. Since they come from so many different backgrounds, they all bring something different to the table. For that reason, they are all interesting in their own way. Because interesting people are not easy to find. I always enjoy my time with them when we cross paths.

The key to enjoying time with interesting people is all about your ability to ask questions. If you have learned and practiced questioning skills, you will almost be totally prepared to enjoy your time with interesting people, but to be fully prepared for

the experience, you will also need great listening skills. Just remember the following:

  1. Listening Skills must be learned.

  2. Listening Skills can be learned at an early age.

  3. Listening Skills only improve when they are practiced.

Sound familiar?

What makes some people more interesting than others? Let’s face it. Some people are just a little bit dull and not particularly interesting. These are the people with whom you probably don’t want to get stuck in a stalled elevator! These are also the people with whom you probably don’t want to spend your 86,000 hours of work, right?

Remember all that knowledge we talked about earlier? The bits of wisdom you are being asked to acquire during your 20,000- hour educational journey? I’m talking about all that stuff your teachers want you to learn, but you aren’t quite sure why you need to learn it. Well, this just might help you answer that “Why?” question.

The more of that stuff you learn, not just memorize, but learn, the more knowledge you will have at your disposal when the time comes to share your wisdom. Maybe it won’t be in a stalled elevator, but I guarantee that you will have many opportunities to share your knowledge. The more you have to share, the more interesting you will be.

Why is it so important to be interesting? It’s pretty simple. People like to be around other people who are interesting. And, employers like to hire employees who are interesting. And, most successful people are very interesting.

How interesting are you?

I have always believed that if you want to be a great something, like a great artist, a great teacher, a great basketball player, etc., you should try to find out what those great somethings have in

common. What do most great teachers have in common? What do most great artists have in common? What do most great doctors have in common? I am always trying to figure out what the best of the best, in any arena, have in common.

Fortunately, that’s the way it is with interesting people, too. If you want to be interesting, then you need to uncover the common denominators of interesting people. In my opinion, right at the top of the common denominator list for interesting people would be this statement: The most interesting people are usually those people who are also the most interested.

What in the world does that mean? In simple terms, it means that people who have an interest in a wide variety of subjects-- people, places, things, events, etc.--usually end up becoming some of the most interesting people out there. Their bucket of wisdom is not filled with all the same stuff. Their knowledge is diverse. Very few interesting people know everything about one subject, but they usually know a decent amount about a whole bunch of subjects.

How do they accomplish that? How do those people end up knowing a good bit about a whole bunch of subjects?

They read about it, and/or they hear about it, which brings us to what I believe is the most vital, critical, necessary, and useful workplace skill of all--the ability to communicate. You will never be career ready if you do not have good communication skills.

I don’t live in a cave, so I am well aware that the art of conversation has evolved tremendously over the past several years. Very few conversations between teenagers are completed verbally these days. The transition to an environment where most communication has shifted to email, texting, tweeting, and blogging presents a huge opportunity for some of you.

Notice that I said the huge opportunity is there for some of you instead of saying all of you. That’s because many of your classmates and friends will be moving so fast on the hi-tech

train that they will totally miss the message that businesses around the world are sending to future prospective employees.

The companies for which you hope to work when you hit the real world are very clear in their desire to hire young people who can communicate with more than their thumbs. Don’t misunderstand me here, and please don’t be offended. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wireless communication. Text, tweet, blog, and email all you want. But, if you want to come out into the real world with a huge head start in the race to success, then be sure to develop a strong set of communication skills that involve more than two thumbs. The ability to communicate verbally (that would be with your mouth) is never going to go out of style. Most young people today have totally overlooked this fact, and that’s why you have a huge opportunity here.

Think about it. What if you were on a plane, and suddenly, the pilot had a heart attack. Not just a mild heart attack but the real deal, and he dropped dead right there in the cockpit. The plane was flying 550 mph at an elevation of 30,000 feet. There was no co-pilot, and nobody on the plane knew how to fly...except you. You were the only passenger on the entire plane who possessed the skills needed to fly that plane. How valuable would you be at that point?

Or, what if you were at McDonald’s one day having a quick lunch, minding your own business, when all of a sudden a five- year-old kid at the next table started choking on a piece of chewing gum? The kid’s face was turning purple, and her eyes looked like they were rolling into the back of her head. The little girl’s mom was screaming for help, begging for someone to save her child. Everyone in the restaurant was staring at the desperate little girl, but nobody could offer any help because none of them knew the skills of CPR...except you. How valuable do you think you might be then?

Having a skill that very few others possess will always put you in a position to take advantage of many opportunities. This will be particularly true when it comes to workplace skills. The way things are going, you will probably find yourself right in the middle of your own emergency situation when you hit the real world of work. Because most of your fellow teens will not figure this out, you have a chance to hit the world of work with a distinct advantage over the competition if you come out of the gates (i.e., school) with what will probably be the rare ability to communicate with your mouth as well as with your thumbs.

As you continue to recognize the value of technology, never underestimate the power of the spoken word--the ability of effective verbal communication. This will include good questioning skills and, just as important, listening skills.

If you have ever had a conversation with someone who was no more listening to you than flying to the moon, then you already know what I mean. The person with whom you are talking seems to care less about what you have to say. Individuals such as this are always interrupting you before you finish saying what you want to say. They often seem more interested in what they want to say next than what you are saying right then and there.

That is a perfect illustration of people who are not very interested. It might not be their fault that they are not interested people. Nobody is born interested in what others have to say. So, here we go again. The ability to be interested is yet another skill that will help you become career ready. And, since it is a skill, it must be learned and practiced.

Stick this little secret in your back pocket.

When you learn to talk to others about things that are of interest to them, two things will happen. First, you might well gain some wisdom that you did not have before, becoming more interesting in the process. Second, when you talk to others about subjects they enjoy, you will find that your relationship with them will grow much more quickly than when you show little or no interest in their jobs, families, and hobbies.

Here’s a promise. Nothing will be more important in your career than relationships. People make people successful. Write that down. Memorize it. Get it tattooed on your ankle. Do whatever you need to do so that you never forget it because that happens to be one bit of knowledge that is indeed relevant. No successful person anywhere in the world became successful without help from someone else.

That was the secret. Now, here’s the advice.

Start practicing being the most interested person you can possibly be. Don’t wait until you graduate from high school. Don’t wait until next year or even next week. There is no better time to start than right now. The sooner you start, the more practice you will get, and the better off you will be. Just remember, there are other teens out there who are not waiting to get started on the career readiness race. Do you want them to have a head start?

On the subject of being interested, here is a bit of wisdom that has helped me a gazillion times (I know that’s not a word!). When you know, in advance, that you will be meeting someone new, make it your business to learn a few things about that person before the meeting. Nothing is more impressive than someone who has taken the time to learn about my interests even before I meet them.

Before you go to a job interview, it is obviously a good idea to learn as much as possible about the company with which you are interviewing. That’s always a good idea, but if you really want to succeed, you are going to need more than just good ideas. You are going to need a few great ideas. Here’s one of those.

Before your interview, find out who you will be meeting. With technology today, it is usually possible to learn quite a bit about the people with whom you will be meeting prior to the interview. Do just that. Find out as much about them as possible. Learn what you can about their jobs, their families, their hobbies, and their interests, and then be ready to talk about all of it when you meet.

You will impress, you will surprise, and you will be remembered. Later on in the hiring process, when it comes down to making a final choice, that little extra homework you did might well be the difference between being hired and being almost hired.

Here’s even better news.

The skill of being interested in others will serve you well as you look for a job. No doubt about it. That skill of being interested in others will also be incredibly valuable to you after you are hired. You will use this skill to develop strong relationships with your co-workers, and those close relationships with co-workers will determine how quickly you progress in your new position. Additionally, your co-workers can make life miserable for you, but they can also make things really sweet for you. Show them that you are sincerely interested in who they are and what they do. You will need their help at some point, and when you do need that help, the relationship must already be in place.

Speaking of needing help...I am the perfect example. I have never accomplished anything of any significance without the help of someone else.

As you may know, I spent eight amazing years as the host of my own television show which was seen on ESPN, the largest sports television network in the world. ESPN can now be seen in almost 100 million households. The show I hosted was called Fly Fishing America, and our crew traveled across the country each year in search of America’s finest fly fishing destinations. We were able to go to some incredible places and meet many fascinating people as we filmed the Fly Fishing America episodes. A few weeks after we taped the shows, they would air on ESPN, and millions of people would get a chance to see, on television, what we got to see in person. It was truly an unbelievable experience.

At least once a week, somebody stops me and asks how in the world I was able to get my own television show on ESPN. Every time they ask, I spit out the same answer. I say, “It was actually pretty easy.” Here’s the story.

The year before I started hosting the show on ESPN, I was out in Utah fishing with a friend of mine. We all have friends, and they all have their own stories. In this case, my friend Brian was an actor, a pretty famous one at that time. To me, though, he was just another guy. Just like the rest of us. No big deal. He was just my friend, and we both enjoyed fishing.

In the midst of our fishing trip, I looked over at Brian and asked him what he had been doing lately (I was interested). Brian told me that he had recently returned from a great trip where he was a celebrity guest on one of the ESPN fishing shows. I asked him where they went, who went with them, and what they had done on the show. He told me all about the trip, the people, the process, and the places they fished.

When Brian finished telling me about his experience as a celebrity guest on the ESPN show, I told him that I would really love to do something like that one day. He immediately looked over at me with a smirk on his face and said, “Chad, you cannot be a celebrity guest on a TV show if you are not a celebrity, you moron!”

Since he was my friend, I ignored the whole moron reference and told him that my interest was not in being a celebrity guest but that I would love to host a show like the one on which he had been.

It sounded pretty cool to me. I loved to fish. I really enjoyed travel. The fishing show was a perfect combination of two of my passions. But, we’re talking ESPN here, the largest sports television network in the world.

Anyway, that was the end of the conversation with my friend Brian, and we continued fishing until the sun went down. The next morning I flew back to Atlanta, GA, where I lived at the time and Brian flew back to Los Angeles, CA, where it would seem most celebrity guests live.

Six months later, I got a call from Brian.

At first I thought it was a joke he was playing on me, but when he wouldn’t stop talking, I started to think it might be for real. Brian told me that he had just been back out on another ESPN show as a celebrity guest, and while he was there, he heard that they were about to get rid of the host of the show. Then, he suggested to the production team that they should call me about the host position.

I asked Brian why he had suggested me for the host position, and he reminded me that I seemed very interested in the show and the process when he first mentioned it to me six months earlier while we were fishing out in Utah. Then, he reminded me I had even told him that I would love to host such a show one day. Thankfully, he left out the whole moron thing this time around!

Believe it or not, the ESPN producer called about a week later and set up a meeting with me at the Atlanta airport to discuss the Fly Fishing America host position. I met the guy, John, in a small meeting room at the airport, and he proceeded to asked me at least 20 questions about all different aspects of fishing.

I answered every single one of his questions...apparently WRONG!

Then, he asked me if I had ever hosted a television show before. I said, “No, Sir.” Next, he asked if I had ever been on a television series. I said, “No, Sir.” Finally, with a look of disgust on his face, he asked me if I had ever been on TV for anything. For some reason, I decided to go with the truth and gave him one more straightforward, “Nope.”

John, the producer, looked right at me and said, “You just don’t have the experience we need for this position.”

Then, before I could even respond, he added, “This show can be seen in 95 million households.”

I started to say something, but he interrupted me to say, “You just aren’t qualified to host this show.”

That was enough for me, so I shook his hand, thanked him for meeting with me, and walked out of the room. What I really wanted to do was pour my cup of coffee right on his head, but since my cup was empty, that would not have worked very well.

Apparently, Mr. Big Shot producer walked out of our meeting and immediately called my friend Brian out in Los Angeles. Brian then called me to see what had happened in the meeting. I gave him the report; then, he told me that the producer had called him, all in a tizzy, and asked why in the world he had recommended me, Chad Foster, for the ESPN host job since I obviously had no television qualifications.

I asked Brian what he told the producer, and he said, “I told that producer that my friend Chad might not have any TV experience, but he can talk to a stump!”

Long story short...the ESPN production company was having a hard time finding a host for the show and finally decided to give me an opportunity to do a pilot for Fly Fishing America. A pilot is what they do for all shows to see if the network wants to put the show on TV full-time. It’s just a single episode, so you only have one chance to get it right.

I agreed to do the pilot even though the producer told me I was only going to get to do the pilot because their plan was to go out and hire a real host as soon as possible. Needless to say, he did not have much faith in my ability to host the show.

I did do the pilot. ESPN did pick up the show for the full season. Mr. Big Shot Producer never did find his real host, so I had the great pleasure of hosting Fly Fishing America, seen in 95 million households, for the next eight years!

How did that happen?

Remember that day on the river in Utah when I showed a sincere interest in my friend Brian’s experience as a celebrity guest on the ESPN show? Brian remembered my interest, so it was easy for him to think of me when he heard about the host opportunity on ESPN.

Did you get that? Let me say it one more time because it’s really important.

The #1 reason why I was able to have my own television show on ESPN was the fact that I expressed my interest in what someone else was doing.

It’s great to be interesting, but it’s even better to be interested.

 

 

Look and Listen

As I am sitting here writing this book, it just occurred to me that I have no idea whether or not you are really interested in what I am writing. In fact, I have absolutely no clue whether or not you have any interest in what you are reading.

I find that a little strange. I mean here I am, sitting in a coffee shop, typing my little fingers off trying to convey a few things to you, the reader, yet I have no way of knowing if you are the least bit interested in what I have to say.

You aren’t looking at me. At least I don’t think you are looking at me. There is one young person sitting at a table near me who has looked my way a couple of times, but I’m pretty sure it’s not you, right? I hope not because this guy seems to be a little weird.

And since you aren’t here with me at the coffee shop, I guess it would stand to reason that, in addition to not looking at me, you are also not listening to me. You couldn’t be listening to me since you aren’t even here, correct?

You see, that’s why I am totally sure that I have no idea whether or not you are interested in the information I am sharing with you. You aren’t looking at me and you aren’t listening to me.

I have a feeling I better make my point soon before you start thinking I need to be in therapy instead of in a coffee shop writing a book!

It is true that none of you are looking at me and none of you are

listening to me. You couldn’t be doing either because you are not here. But, what if you were here? What if you were sitting with me at the table in the coffee shop right now? If you were sitting at my table, and I was talking to you instead of typing, would I be able to determine your level of interest in what I am sharing with you?

Yes, I would. And it would not be difficult. It is all about eyes and ears.

If you are looking right at me while I am talking, I will believe that you are truly interested. If you are really listening to what I am saying, and not interrupting me mid-sentence, I will honestly believe that you have an interest in what I am saying. It’s all about two simple words – look and listen.

This is true for every conversation you will ever have with anyone, anytime, anywhere.

An interested person is always a good listener. Good listeners are almost always good learners, and good learners always become very interesting.

Can you do it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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