Surviving As A College Grad Isnt Impossible Kenny Soto

Surviving As A College Grad Isn’t Impossible, Right?

“Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life.” — Jerzy Gregorek

 

What I wish I knew before graduating college

It happens once every year. Parents full of tears and hope for their children; professors, college administrators, faculty, and staff watch as young and hopeful students ascend from their 4-5 year journey from academia into the professional world.

With a promise of new opportunities and fulfilling their dreams and aspirations, graduates look forward to their future adult lives. However, as they are thrusted into the market and entrusted to be responsible young adults – some look to the future with unease. An anxiety creeps in as a realization occurs, “I am no longer a student. I’m an adult now.”

I never self-identified with the term millennial until I graduated college. Being placed into a category that’s often looked down upon didn’t jibe well with me. Now that it has been two years since I’ve graduated, I’ve had more time to think about why so many people my age are suffering from huge amounts of stress and angst.

Having taken the time to discuss the issue of life after college with recent grads, I’ve found that the general sentiment the majority of us feel is, none of us really know what we’re doing when we are starting our careers.

This realization is reassuring only in the fact that we are all going through this struggle together, regardless of the varying degrees of internal strife we may feel. Some get past this hurdle faster than others, some hide their angst better than others, and others try to espouse a nonchalant approach towards their future considering how much time we have to “figure it out.”

I’ve been pursuing some reasonable approach that I could use to tackle the issues at hand, with little luck. I find that trying to create a solid identity, one that really encompasses my passions and allows me to truly have an impact on society, to be utterly difficult to accomplish.

“Advice taken from the past doesn’t always relate to the new and unique challenges that our generation is facing today.”

For seventeen years of my life I have identified as a student. Now that this is no longer the case, I like many of my peers alongside me have to figure out what to is my identity. Moreover, we find ourselves in a position in which, for the most part, we’ve never experienced before.

We have new responsibilities, with no manuals available to help us navigate the new world we are entering. Advice made taken the past doesn’t always relate to the new and unique challenges that our generation is facing today. Both the domestic and global job marketplace is constantly changing. Job security is a thing of the past and yet, for the most part, we have been taught in a way that helps us navigate the markets of the 20th century.

No one will make your schedule for us, there are no handouts, and we all have to assume our own responsibilities. It’s more than just identifying with a profession.

Understanding fully well that a career isn’t built in a day, there still seems to be this unspoken pressure from so many places. Perhaps this pressure I personally feel could be coming from the fact that I’m a first generation American. I’m certain that I’m not the only one who has a unique “chip on their shoulder.” Whether it’s from your parents, social circle, society – the pressure won’t go away. However, the pressure that should take priority is the pressure we give ourselves to succeed and find happiness in a way that we define.

 

Related: 5 Tips To Use When Surviving Life After College

 

Finding a dream job vs. your place in life

It’s easy to settle for the first comfortable job that comes your way during your first six months after graduating. Your parents stress the fact that you need to start contributing to the household. Or if you live on your own, you need to keep maintaining the lifestyle you’re building for yourself. There’s also the added pressure of competing with your friends who have also graduated. “Peter has a new gig as a (insert generic entry level position) at (some prestigious firm)! His prospects are very promising.”

Both the social pressure of trying to seem like you have everything figured out and the balancing act of trying to simply survive and pay off any college debt you may have add to the hasty decision-making for getting the first job that comes your way. That’s what happened to me.

I thought that if I took a job at a startup, I’d at least have something to show for myself. I believed that it was a good starting point as any other and if it didn’t work out I could just move to another company. So that’s what I did.

I moved up the corporate ladder until I got into my dream job, but something didn’t sit well with me. Even with all of the hard work I put into keeping up with appearances and advancing my career I still felt unfulfilled.

I fell into the trap of listening to other people’s expectations they had for me and not designing the expectations I had for myself.

There is no perfect path. There is no reason for you to decide that what you studied in college is what you need to actually do. And going immediately back to school to get a master’s degree or a higher one doesn’t boost the prospect of you getting your “dream job.” It will most certainly guarantee an increase of your debt.

I believe one of the shifts in thinking all us need to adopt is that just because we have college degrees doesn’t mean we are special. What will truly differentiate us in the market is the accumulation of life experiences and the purposeful adoption of struggles and discomfort we make over time. These things aren’t obtained through a college education – that’s why we shouldn’t rush into things.

Sure, with all practicality in mind, we do need to pay our bills. At the same time, need to be very calculated with the opportunities we say no to because it’s the no’s that will create the foundation of our careers.

Our time is the most valuable tool we have right now.

”How can I help people and enjoy my time doing it?” This is the question we should be asking ourselves. It all begins with doing a self-audit of our desires and interests, and it’s not too late to do that even if you’ve already begun working in that lovely cubicle or desk you’ve vied for since leaving the academic world.

A fulfilling career isn’t obtained in a day, it takes a tremendous amount of time.

 

 

Do not confuse cognitive ability with maturity

Keeping the challenge of obtaining our dream jobs, realizing our identity outside of school, and surviving our first decade as adults in mind, there is another shift in our thinking we need to make.

We must not confuse our cognitive ability with maturity. They aren’t the same.

Our educational system coddles us in a way. We expect our time to be managed for us. For things to be clear cut, which doesn’t work with reality. If we can’t break away from the patterns that were predefined for us, how can we create our own in the future?

Maturity is accepting responsibility and choosing our struggles before they are thrusted upon us. However, it is difficult to accept our own responsibilities when we are comparing ourselves to our peers.

Comparing yourself with others can lead to a dead end. If you find yourself jealous or stuck ia n rut because you’re not checking off the boxes – you’re not alone, but you need to stay grounded in reality. It’s impossible to know all the nuances that led to someone else’s success. Envy can be used as a tool to help you succeed, but only if you stay grounded on what success means for you. Just because you received good grades throughout your academic career doesn’t mean you can manage a home on your own. It doesn’t equate to any skills that could be used to help a team grow, it doesn’t ensure that you can be an asset.

Focus on the small things first. Can you create a budget? Do you have the ability to set your own schedule, to say no to the events and opportunities that have nothing to do with your daily goals? Can you set a plan and stick to it? Are you auditing your friends and social circle to make sure you’re being celebrated and supported, instead of being tolerated and doubted?

All of these questions have to be asked frequently if we want to make sure we are staying on track. “Adulting” only occurs when we first define what type of adult we want to be and work our way backwards to where we are today.

 

Related: Creating Your Own Curriculum For Self-Education After College

 

We all go through the growing pains of “adulting”

“Adulting” isn’t impossible. It sure is difficult and arduous, but with enough time spent thinking about our lives – we can tackle our issues with full force. We can achieve our goals, no matter the time it takes to do so. However, it all begins with a realistic view of our futures.

The world is constantly changing. Our education cannot cope nor can it adapt to the changes from technology. It’s up to us to assume responsibility.

We have to create and venture into our paths of self-education. This isn’t the same as getting a higher degree. A master’s degree or PhD won’t solve issues regarding our character.

Travel the world. Volunteer and work for free – see if you actually enjoy working in the field you studied before you invest decades into it. Leverage the internet to not only consume content, use it to help you learn.

You will make mistakes and that’s okay. We all have our own paces when it comes to learning; we all have our unique struggles. What we have to do is assume responsibility for these struggles because it is through them that we will grow up.

Remember, there is no easy path. There is no manual.

 

This blog post was inspired by a podcast episode with Professor Jordan Peterson, when he was interviewed on the Joe Rogan Experience. If you’re a fan of audiobooks or podcasts in general, I highly recommend listening Dr. Peterson’s interview with Joe as accompanying content to this article. In this podcast episode, Dr. Peterson discusses the challenges that young people are currently facing (among other topics). The point of inspiration I gained from the episode comes mainly from his claim that in order to justify your suffering that comes from living in this world, you have to assume responsibility over your life. I wouldn’t do any justice to what he says by paraphrasing him any further, this article is mainly pointed towards the reflections I have made while struggling with life after college.

If you have any tidbits of advice or personal stories you’d like to share, please leave a comment below and let’s chat! How you are “Adulting” right now? How do you define the term?

 

Related: A College Grad’s Biggest “Adulting” Challenge: Managing Money

 

A special thanks to Alejandra Barraza, Rachelle Campos, Kenneth Reed, Matthew Jacquet, Rene Jimenez, Kenny Moreno, and Devin Rajaram for discussing these issues with me and for helping me write this article.

 

Subscribe to my newsletter for more articles like this one: eepurl.com/by4v59

Maktub - A Book And A Word That Changed My Life Kenny Soto

Maktub: A Book & A Word That Changed My Life

Maktub an Arabic word that stands for, it is written.

I first discovered this word when I read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. To say that the moment I read this book was timely is an understatement.

I received the book at the very crux of discovering what I wanted to strive towards. I was a junior in college, going through the same struggle that all of us go through at the peak of our adolescence. This peak being the challenge of figuring out what I want to do with my life.

I was studying music theory at the time, struggling with the curriculum I was being taught. As I was lamenting over the daily experiences, a dear friend of mine told me I had to read this book. The main reason was that they cared for my sanity and knew that it would help me one thousand times more than it did her if I had read this book before graduating.

I read this book with no definitive expectations. I’m truly indebted to her for the lessons I learned from this reading this book. I don’t often read a book more than once, but with this one, in particular, I find that I always learn something new after each read.

A brief intro to Paulo’s masterpiece

The story is about a boy reaching adulthood in Egypt. The main character searches for a treasure he cannot find.

The main character ends up meeting many mentors that are wiser than him. Through his tutelage, he realizes that his mentors aren’t necessarily teaching him lessons he needs—he’s realizing through his own actions, what the main character already knows about himself.

The mentors teach him about the omens of the world—the daily opportunities and distractions that surround us on a daily basis.

The first mentor he encounters eventually tells him about a journey he must go on, a journey that the boy saw in a dream.

It’s important to learn the language of the world

The “language” or “Soul of the World” is mentioned several times in this book. The author uses this phrase as a central tool to explain how the protagonist is able to intuitively avoid conflict and seek out the opportunities before him. I believe that the language is a reference to our own intuition. Certain things cannot be learned by reading books, only life experience can teach us the most important lessons in life.

The protagonist is well read, having attended university before the journey in the plot even began. But he learns fairly quickly that cognitive ability shouldn’t be confused with maturity. Just because one could be “book smart” doesn’t necessarily ensure their success when faced with life’s many trials.

One of my favorite themes that is derived from the language of the world motif is that of attaining knowledge from oneself—without relying on academia. More importantly, the character’s ability to tune into this language of the world increases in potency as he as eventually begins to experience failures along the way. The failures he experiences help him train his intuition and powers of observation.

Challenges should be welcomed

The true test of one’s character doesn’t come from when he succeeds but, from how he reacts to failure. It’s also important to note that the ideal reaction to failure is the ability to step back and learn from it. The protagonist in the story finds himself consistently challenged when he begins his journey towards and through the deserts of Africa. Among his many trials, there was a specifically amusing one that struck a chord with me.

Without providing too many spoilers, someone who befriends the main character ends up lying to him. After this event occurs and the protagonist is fully aware of what has transpired, he begins to lament his situation. What he soon realizes is that even with all the time in the world, worrying really doesn’t benefit him at all. Instead of giving up and going back home, he finds a way to collect his thoughts and set a plan of attack moving forward.

Failure will always be a presence in our lives, and if we are attuned to that fact—the failures we experience will be more palatable (especially as we experience them in the moment). When we face our challenges head-on, even if we fail, the sheer fact that we took the time to at least try makes us better people. More importantly, when do this it also affects the people around us. One of my favorite quotes of the book is on page 150 when the Paulo Coelho writes, “That’s what alchemists do. They show that, when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”

You are a part of a network of people and with that fact in mind, whenever you try to improve yourself you indirectly improve the network you are a part of as well. People learn not only through action, they also learn from observing others. When we take the initiative to deliberately put ourselves in uncomfortable situations we help expand our collective consciousness (the consciousness which we have within ourselves and that which we share with others).

Related: Failure Is Your Friend & You’re Going To Fail A Lot

No matter what happens, follow your personal legend

“No matter what he does, every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world. And normally he doesn’t know it (page 158-9).”

Individuality is necessary as we grow if we forget what makes us who we are—if we do not assert ourselves against the world—we won’t be attuned to the opportunities that present themselves to us every day. Our lives are defined not only by the opportunities we take but, also by the opportunities we miss. As we navigate our careers and daily lives, it’s important to always remember what we are working towards.

Goal setting only works if you:

  1. Track your progress on a regular basis.
  2. Ensure that your goals prioritize maximizing happiness.

Optimal goal setting isn’t possible if we set our goals and dreams based on what others want from us—family, friends, or society. Furthermore focusing on what other people’s goals are (or personal legends as they are referred to in the book), is a trap. You should only measure your own progress and no one else’s. You’d be wasting valuable energy that could be used for planning and execution if you’re trying to juggle your attention between your life and someone else’s.

Paulo is an amazing writer and I’m sure that if you read this book, you’ll learn some of these lessons yourself and see some that I might have looked past.

If you do read this book, or already have, I’d love to hear from you. What did you learn while reading it? Is there anything I’ve written here that you don’t agree with? Let’s talk in the comments section below or send me a message!

Maktub my friends.

Subscribe to my newsletter for more articles like this one: eepurl.com/by4v59

Failure is your friend Kenny Soto

Failure Is Your Friend & You’re Going To Fail A Lot

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” — Winston Churchill

Have you ever experienced an awkward moment when you made a mistake in front of someone? The shame that’s felt when caught making an avoidable mistake, making you feel miserable? Predicting the wrong outcome and suffering the consequences that came from overconfidence and poor planning? Failure is a fact of life. We periodically learn more from the avoidance of repeated failures than we do from chasing continued success.

Below is a recent reflection I wrote about failure. I wrote this as a resource for myself and my hope is that from reading this, some part will resonate with you as well and provide you with a new approach to positively reacting and reflecting on your own failures.

Failure is always a possibility

When I think about the word failure, I get a mixed reaction of disdain and of acceptance. Disdain towards the memories of past failures I have made and acceptance of the fact that failure will always be a constant factor in anything I try to do. Mistakes, pain, rejection — all of these are prerequisites for success.

Failure is as much a prerequisite for success as it is the opposite of success, for we cannot succeed without failing first. One could challenge this claim by stating that they have succeeded in accomplishing tasks and feats at the first attempt. However, that rebuttal tends to beg the question, “Can you understand how you achieved that initial success?” See, even if you succeed at something within the first attempt, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can replicate that same outcome unless you have a fundamental understanding of how it came to be. Failure is what teaches us how to achieve success that can be done more than once. Failure provides us the understanding needed for repeated success when it matters most.

Related: The Art Of Being A Polymath: Not Being Married To Your Ideas

It’s nothing personal

It should be mentioned that I personally have difficulty remembering this paradigm shift whenever I experience a failure in real-time. I, like many others, tend to be awash with that feeling of disdain I mentioned above. “Why is this happening to me?” “What did I do wrong?” “Life isn’t fair.” However, thinking about failure with respect to it being a part of what success is, it has in a way helped in my reflections on past mistakes and mishaps I’ve had in the past. I don’t often times think about this during the incident but, it does allow for me to cope and move on more effectively.

Consider for example the world of sales. Success in selling anything, whether it be a product or service isn’t determined by the number of yes’s you get, rather by the number of no’s! It’s a necessary step in learning from every moment and to see your failures as building blocks, not roadblocks.

“As we try to create favorable outcomes from the decisions we make, we can also try to create desirable failures.”

Don’t make your failures personal. As Les Brown once famously said“When things go wrong, don’t go with them.” His words align with the notion that the failures in our lives can bring us both valuable lessons and even happiness as a consequence of letting the past be used as a tool for growth and learning. It is when we see the past failures we made as grandiose incidents rather than what they really are, we get in our own way.

Ryan Holiday, author of the book Ego Is The Enemyprovides insight into the dangers of letting failure (and success) get to our heads. Just as it is important to accept the failures in our lives and move on, it is just as important to constantly and objectively evaluate who are. In this evaluation, you have to consider your ability in the moment in which you tackled the situations in when you failed and review why you may have been the only cause of said failure.

For a moment, reflect on this passage from Ego Is The Enemy:

“One might say that the ability to evaluate one’s own ability is the most important skill of all. Without it, improvement is impossible. And certainly ego makes it difficult every step of the way. It is certainly more pleasurable to focus on our talents and strengths, but where does that get us? Arrogance and self-absorption inhibit growth. So does fantasy and ‘vision’ (page 21).”

Your approach to failure has to be grounded in reality. When I think about the commonalities between all of the failures I’ve had in the past (and the ones that will definitely happen in the future) the common thread is that I reacted poorly in the moment because I was too focused on myself. With this new approach to thinking about failures as building blocks moving forward, I’m going to shift the common thread of my failures to be, “a moment in time in which I learned something new and had fun while learning it.”

Related: Perfect Practice Makes Perfect vs Practice Makes Perfect

Gamify your daily challenges

Games and game theory can be used to further think about the topic of failure as a tool, as a positive fact of life. Consider this: one of the best ways to approach the daily challenges we face is by thinking of them as games. If we to take this into consideration as we go throughout life, we could come to not only accept the inevitability of failure but, also begin to appreciate our reactions towards it. In games, if you play enough times you’re bound to lose.

With this in mind, if we can predict our failures in advance, perhaps we can even help skew the results of the decisions we make in our favor. As we try to create favorable outcomes from the decisions we make, we can also try to create desirable failures. We can skew even the most unfortunate of events into integral components for our growth. By considering what are the desirable outcomes of any scenario (both in success and in failure) we can not only plan to succeed but, also prepare to learn from our future mistakes.

Depending on the nature of your work, there are certain mistakes that are permissible (especially if you are just at the start of your job). Think about the acceptable loses your team is willing to endure on your behalf. In addition, consider what are acceptable loses you permit yourself to make. Have you thought of any? Failures are bound to happen and the inability to forgive oneself doesn’t allow for growth and progress.

In games, my general approach is to learn how to have fun first, which in turn relieves some of the pressure and stress that comes from competition and loss. When the focus is shifted from winning to just learning the mechanics of the game itself and making the experience enjoyable — there is no way that failure can distract or deter one from moving forward. And as we fail, we will begin to gain insights that will help us to not repeat the same mistakes in the future.

Related: 6 Lessons For My Career That I’ve Learned From Being A Gamer

Accepting failure as a part of growth

Tying back to seeing acceptable failures as a part of your list of desired outcomes, you can also leverage practical pessimism when reflecting on your failures. Practical pessimism is a mode of thinking, in which the focus is to catalyze effective productivity even if failure is imminent. It is a way of stoically approaching the world, although you may fail — the pain of said failure isn’t as bad as you may believe.

Taking into account whatever your failures may be, if you go face your challenges with the primed reaction of, “I accept that this is just a small moment of my life, one that I will learn from,” you can always gain something from any failure that may occur.

Subscribe to my newsletter for more articles like this one:eepurl.com/by4v59

What Will You Do To "Flip" Your Time Kenny Soto

What Will You Do To “Flip” Your Time?

The Formula

Your time equals = Building relationships + Supporting good habits + Ongoing education + Vision + Fun

 

We all have only 168 hours every week. Excluding the time we allocate for sleeping, eating, and preparing for the day, we don’t have enough time to work on our goals. The majority of time is spent at work or school (depending on your age). Are we maximizing every day we get? How are we ensuring that is actually true? Below is an update to an article I previously wrote on time management for millennials. You can read that article here.

Building for your future self

At the start of our careers, we can often lose track on how we are positioning ourselves for success. Seeking accolades and approval from the people we work with tends to be the main focus for recent college graduates and young professionals and although those are necessary requirements for upward mobility, they aren’t the only aspects of our careers that matter. Another part of setting ourselves up for success revolves around continuous education, adopting healthy habits, and skills acquisition.

Setting up “learning goals” on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis is a great way for tracking your professional progress over time. To make your system of tracking success even more refined, create a log of the mistakes you make alongside your learning goals. Being able to objectively track your results over time (good and bad) will help you see what areas of your work need more attention. The best way to implement any changes you see fit is to consider how you would like to “build” upon your future-self. Are you asking yourself the right questions before seeking new knowledge? This a foundational question to ask yourself as you begin to create your own curriculum after college and beyond.

Related: What Questions Are We Asking Ourselves?

Auditing your habits: Calendars, Mentors, and Peers

Another way to track your progress is by using your calendar. It may seem like a simple tool when trying to improve upon who you are as a person but, I’ve found my calendar to be invaluable.

My calendar is where I can visually see the following:

  • My current learning goals
  • Mistakes I’ve logged
  • Daily appointments and meetings segmented by color/priority

Having a visual representation for what you need to accomplish can help hold yourself accountable.

In addition to using your calendar, having a mentor can also help in being held accountable to what you add to your calendar—if the guilt of not following it isn’t enough to spur the enthusiasm needed for you to get stuff done. A mentor can help you design the fastest way to learn. When you have access to a mentor, you learn from mistakes that you don’t need to make yourself.

An alternative to finding a mentor who can help teach you and objectively track your progress can be having weekly calls with a peer. During these weekly calls both of you can discuss the following:

  • Goals you have for the following week
  • Things you’ve accomplished
  • Mistakes you’ve made
  • What you’ve learned from them
  • Ideas for improvement

When I have these calls with a friend of mine from college, they usually last 10-15 minutes. It helps as an investment in yourself and your network, depending on how many of these calls you would like to have. In the event you don’t feel like you have anything to talk about during the call or if you quickly go over your agenda, here’s another prompt for conversation: “What questions did you ask today?” Asking this will always lead fruitful introspective thought for both parties.

If you don’t a mentor you can reach out to right now, you can always find them in books. One book in particular that I recommend is, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change” by Jim Collins. He defines a simple system for considering which essential habits are needed for your success and improving your progress over time. All of the suggestions mentioned in this book are practical and can be immediately implemented (the main challenge will be staying consistent in following what he recommends).

“A mentor can help you design the fastest way to learn.” — Kenny Soto #TweetThis

Related: What Could You Do If You Had A Second Brain?

Every notification is a request for your time

Do you get a return on investment for every minute you spend looking at a screen? Are all notifications created equal? How is your phone aiding you? Are you using it to help control your agenda?

Another distraction that deters us from concentrating on our everyday tasks and learning goals is the need to view and respond to every push notification that comes our way. Learning how to say “no” to the online communities we are a part of is key to making sure we are focused and not looking at our screens. The notifications will stay in your app; you don’t need them intruding on what you need to get done in the moment. Managing your time means managing your content consumption. The content you want to see and people you want attention from aren’t going anywhere.

Try turning off the notifications for all of your social media applications and setting aside time in your schedule to check up on what’s going on. No one will notice that you aren’t responding or posting, especially if you aren’t building a brand online and you’re just using it to stay connected with family and friends. 

 

The most important thing to remember is that none of these recommendations work unless you put them into action, and you must always be honest with yourself. Books may not help, a calendar may not be completely effective, nor will a mentor/partner that holds you accountable. But you need to try them to see what works in the context of your own reality. And also, know that if you’re able to manage your time for work, you’ll have time set aside for fun. “Flipping” your time means finding ways to use it more effectively. What will do to make sure that is happening every day?

Subscribe to my newsletter for more articles like this one: eepurl.com/by4v59

6 Lessons For My Career That I've Learned From Being A Gamer Kenny Soto

6 Lessons For My Career That I’ve Learned From Being A Gamer

This article was written with contributions from Malik Christopher.

Video games are more than entertainment

It’s been over six months since I’ve found the time to play video games. I used to be obsessed, sometimes playing until 2:00 AM on weekdays. I find it hard to believe that I’ve entered a stage in my life where games are slowly leaving my schedule. As I reflect on the lessons I’ve learned from playing them, perhaps one of these will resonate with you too.

No matter what you do to level up, books are your best friend

Taking a page (pun intended) out of The Elder Scrolls: SKYRIM, one of the most important lessons I’ve gained was learning how to level up faster by using books found throughout the world. In the game, there are various skills that you level up to create a fully customized character. An easy way to level up a skill tree is by finding the hidden books across the land. When you acquire a book, your character automatically goes to the next level of that related skill.

The importance of this is that even in video games, education is stressed. Learning how you learn and setting up a way to control your education so that you can level up your skills will always be relevant.

Related: Creating Your Own Curriculum For Self-Education After College

When you accept too many side-missions, you can get off track

Among other challenges, time management in games is critical to your success. Now, gamers define success differently when it comes to specific games. Not all games have an end point, one can play an open world/sandbox game such as Grand Theft Auto and never progress through the main narrative. Time management in video games is important because it determines how fast you beat the game, what achievements or trophies you want to acquire, and how much can you brag to your other friends who play the game. Also, there’s the conundrum of having to decide how to split your time up if you want to play online or not.

The challenge of time management and the lessons I started to gather myself, became readily apparent when I encountered the particular issue of having to play games that have endless side quests & missions. Open world (or sandbox) games are distinct in that they allow the player to step outside of the main story and interact with the world freely. As players, we have the control to do whatever we want for hours on end. The benefit of doing side-missions is that the player gets rewarded with bonus content, prizes, and they most likely help to create a richer gaming experience.

What I took away from playing side missions specifically from Grand Theft Auto is that there are both pros and cons. The negative aspect of side missions is that they can pile on if you’re not too careful and if you’re like me, you get frustrated because one of your main goals is to complete the game. This observation has prompted me to think about the number of projects I take on in real life and how I decide which ones are worth my time. Sure, there could be some list of benefits for taking on new projects, but one must ask themselves, “Does this take away from my primary objectives?” In addition to time management, video games certainly help with creating better decision-making skills if you’re consciously auditing what you do while playing.

Don’t chase money, chase skills

There are video games designed to let the player win if there is certain amount cash to acquire as the main objective. However, most of the games I’ve played require you to focus on your character’s base attributes or if you’re playing online — you need to incorporate talent and skills to be the best. There tends to be a currency system in most role-playing games as an example, but the goal isn’t only to acquire virtual wealth.

Putting a focus on actually developing your character so that they strike terror in the face of the enemy is usually your best bet. This maps on well to life in general. Often, we think about gathering short term gains. Even if it’s relatively short in real life, there is still a considerable amount of time that one has to commit to growing your character’s skills. The skills are what make the game easier, even if you have the best “gear” or items Having a character with a skillset that allows you to adapt to any scenario is what actually matters. It’s the same with who you are in your life. Skills acquisition will always be more important than money.

Related: Accelerating Your Professional Growth By Working For Free

There are no cheat codes in life

If there is one thing that I’ve noticed for both video games and my personal life is that: I’m usually heading in the right direction if things start getting harder. Especially if I start getting more haters/enemies over time. There’s a natural progression in video games, as your character grows in power and skill, so do the enemies you encounter. Life is the same, and if you try to circumvent that by thinking you can game the system, you’re sadly mistaken. Using “cheat codes” in videos games makes them boring over time. When you do it in real life, it can damage your reputation and hurt you in the long term (even if there are short-term benefits).

An example of a cheat code in real life is lying on your resume. Sure it’s a faster way for you to get your foot in the door but, you will be found out eventually. No one ever got bragging rights by using cheat codes to beat a hard game. You only get the right to be proud of yourself when you tackle your challenges head on and when you’re patient with your growth.

There will always be someone better than you

Lastly, the most important lesson I’ve ever gained from video games (specifically playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3), is that there will always be someone better than you. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t consistently try to be the best at what you do, more so that you should be aware that surrounding yourself with people that are more knowledgeable and skilled than you is more than ok — it’s essential to your personal and professional growth.

There is no way you can grow to your fullest potential in whatever you decide to do in life if you don’t have other people to put your current skillset into perspective. I personally want to be a great blogger, so I’m constantly comparing myself to others at the top (like Seth Godin). Not out of envy, but out of admiration and for study. I’m a big believer that imitation is one easy way to test new things and see what’s successful.

Being beaten by people better than you is how you learn how to play the game. It’s how you get better, especially if the competition is significantly past you in years of experience. And most importantly, it keeps things enjoyable. Because who wants to have a boring experience playing video games let alone in life? Competition breeds growth and constant challenges.

Playing with a team is the “name of the game”

In competitive games such as League of Legends or Overwatch, each member of your team is assigned a certain role that has specific objectives that they need to be accomplished during every match. When a mistake is made in one of these roles, whether big or small, it becomes detrimental to the entire team with the potential losing the match. It isn’t as costly if one plays on their own (casual gamers do this), but in the professional atmosphere (eSports) such as the Championship Series for League of Legends, a prize pool of millions of in-game dollars have easily been taken out of a team’s reach because of one mistake.

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link”, rings true in situations like these. If one person falls behind, you’ll easily be outclassed by a team that’s more on top of things. What usually follows is frustration, blame, and a decrease in skill overall. The ability to help those you work with by providing constructive criticism is crucial. A concern for their weaknesses, should be tackled with the appropriate feedback. Slowly, you’ll notice not only improvement in them, but also in yourself as a leader and team player. And in the professional world, we all work in teams.

Click here to subscribe to my newsletter to get more articles like this one: SUBSCRIBE

Self education Kenny Soto

Creating Your Own Curriculum For Self-Education After College

“Knowing what you don’t know is more useful than being brilliant.”

 

Self-education changed my life

Let me preface this article with the story of how I am starting my career in digital marketing. I didn’t study marketing in college (besides that one elective course I took during my junior year). My major was in music theory and composition. The only reason I was able to jump into the marketing realm after graduation was because I took the liberty of supplementing my education with an internship that then developed into my own curriculum.

I will admit that none of this would have been possible if it weren’t for my mentor, Maurice Bretzfield. However, at the end of the day I had the understanding that the only person who was in charge of the trajectory of my career was me. And if I didn’t take the initiative to leverage the resources that all of us have at our disposal, I would still be looking for a job. More importantly, I would still be looking for a pathway to growth, that is designed by someone else.

Self-education means moving forward with calculated purpose

Most of us who undergo formal education have all learned how to follow systems. These systems help us to align our dreams and daily actions with the whole of society, making use accustomed to daily routines. One thing that is good about our formal education is that it helps us gain the core competencies needed to join the workforce and contribute to our communities. However, our current system of education is limiting us.

Graduating from the standard educational path of elementary school, high school, and then college is a good starting point but, we eventually have to take control of our intellectual and mental growth when becoming young professionals. In the age of information, we now have the ability to create our own curriculums and learn associative skills that increase our value. Curriculums that can further enhance our education and provide more control over the direction our careers take.

 

Being prepared as opportunities arise

Creating a curriculum of self-study can help you prepare for opportunities as they present themselves. There comes a time when a potential client or business partner will ask for help on a project and if you don’t have the necessary skills to execute on it—the opportunity will pass you by. We no longer have to give ourselves excuses when it comes to learning the necessary skills we need to have as we develop throughout our careers. Going back to school to supplement your education will always be an option but, this is no longer the only route one can take.

We now have the possibility of using the Internet to learn new skills that can increase our value for little to no cost. Online courses, networking events, and finding mentors online can be great substitutes to a formal education in graduate school. At the end of the day, people get paid to think. The more useful your thinking is to the right people, the more value you will gain throughout your career. Find people who are just as hungry for knowledge and spend as much time with them as you possibly can. Part of setting up your own curriculum is having partners that can hold you accountable over time.

Related: “People Get Paid To Think”

 

Learn how you learn best

The Internet is our best friend when wanting to learn something new. However, one can waste a lot their time if they do not know the most efficient way they can acquire knowledge. Understanding whether or not we combine several media formats such as audio, written, video, or physical practice is a vital step in self-education.

Personal resources I currently use are as follows:

Written content – For online resources, I use Medium and Feedly to organize my blog subscriptions. For physical books I have h a list of books I plan to buy on a Amazon on my wish list categorized by fiction, business, and law. The way I retain what I learn from each book is by cataloging my lessons as book reviews.

Podcasts – The podcast application I use is the one that comes with the Apple iPhone however a great alternative is the Stitcher app. Below is a list of my top podcasts:

Video – For video content I primarily use YouTube however, a new platform I’ve been using to educate myself using video content is the LinkedIn Learning Center, available to users with a premium subscription.

I mainly gravitate to reading for my education, the reason I know this is through the audit of my own performance in school. If I read something, I soak up the information faster. Also, and more importantly, it’s easier for me to find appropriate uses for the information I am acquiring. But everyone is different, and experimentation is critical.

Fitting self-education into your Daily schedule

No matter what your professional goals are in life, if they aren’t tied to tangible daily, monthly, and quarterly learning goals, you will hinder your growth. There is no reason why we can’t set aside, at the very least, 30 minutes each day dedicated to learning a new skill and learning new habits. Whenever we aspire to reach the next level in our career, we want to establish what necessary skills we need in order to get there. This becomes clearer if we also begin to consider how are we going to design a curriculum so that we can take charge of learning these skills.

If we don’t set realistic deadlines and self-examinations for the skills we need to acquire, we won’t get to where we need to go. Time management plays a significant role in this. Try to set some time aside to do an audit of how you’re spending your week. What urgent tasks do you usually tackle that aren’t immediately relevant? Think about things you can delegate, defer, and deny (saying no is an essential strategy in saving time). Once you have made space in your schedule to set aside for learning, start considering how you want to break up your curriculum. What are the several stages of learning the skills you want to obtain? What are reasonable time periods for achieving them (sometimes this can be as long as 4-5 years so take this into account)?

Related: Time Management: A 6-Step Guide For Millennials

You can reach out to any expert you want to learn from

Another tactic to consider, as you venture off into new avenues for personal growth, is seeking knowledge from those who have created their own paths. A way to do this with the smallest amount of effort needed (if you’re an avid reader) is to buy books from notable experts in your industry. However, I find this to be limiting if your only approach for learning from experts is to read their literature or to consume their content (videos and podcasts). We now have the ability to reach out to anyone we want to. There is nothing separating you from your idols and heroes.

If you are looking for mentorship, seek it out and start off small. Try reaching out to the top 100 industry experts and work your way up to the top. We use social media every day to connect with our friends and family, why not use it to connect with people who can point us in the right direction?

Sure you might not be able to get Evan Spiegel to reply to your tweet on starting a business, but with enough research and effort you can find his team members online and reach out to them. There is no excuse for you not to start creating conversations with other industry professionals. They are people just like you, and if you can find a way to make the conversation you are seeking valuable to both parties, you will win. But that comes from trial and error. Try to consider what criteria they use to determine whether or not the conversation may be of use to them. Ask yourself, “how do they qualify other people who ask them for their time?”

Creating your own curriculum for learning is difficult but, the effort taken in investing in your personal growth will pay tremendous dividends over time. Every notably successful person never stops learning, why should you?
The bottom line is, graduating from college is only the first step in your learning experience.

Click here to subscribe to my newsletter to get more articles like this one: SUBSCRIBE

entry level of success kenny soto

The Cost Of Entry For Any Level Of Success (2 Min. Read)

It Takes Time To Build Your Reputation

No matter what list of accomplishments you have, no one will care when you’re starting something new. When you are used to having a reputation, it can be very jarring when you enter a new team or new endeavor and the attention you once had, has evaporated completely.

This can be especially irritating for anyone who has high expectations of themselves. You want to make an impact immediately but, you will quickly realize that unless you can prove that you can be useful, no one will bother to give you the responsibility and recognition that you crave. Being useful to people you’ve worked with in the past has little meaning to those you’re currently working with. That reputation and list of accomplishments can only get your foot in the door, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Being confident in your skills is good, but it is also important to understand that each new person that meets you can’t possibly know the value of those skills right away. Even if they have some prior knowledge of your past work, it still won’t be 100% clear how you provide value — until you’ve actually proven it through your actions.

These things take time and commitment. Sometimes more time than you might immediately expect.

“Freshman Angst” Never Ends

The analogy I’ve used to be able to keep moving forward with this realization in my own professional career is by understanding that no matter what the circumstance, you will always be a freshman.

In each stage of your career, there will always be new challenges to face, new people you will meet, and new environments where you will have to prove yourself on a consistent basis. Having the understanding that this is ok and that these phases are a part of the process, is vital to staying humble and allowing for the opportunities you want to present themselves—when well deserved.

It is better to be in a room where no one knows what you can do, and you have to prove yourself, than to not be in that room at all.

Sometimes the best recognition comes from just taking the time for self-reflection on the work you’ve done. Only you will know how many things you’ve done and learned to get to where you are today. And that is ok. Give people time to discover who you are and what makes you unique. Would you want to be expected to know all of the things that makes someone else special when you first start working with them?

Click here to subscribe to my newsletter to get more articles like this one: SUBSCRIBE

6 steps to time management Kenny Soto

Time Management: A 6-Step Guide For Millennials

The first lesson I learned after graduating college…time management is your key to success.

No one will tell you how to structure your week, which is why time management has to be a focus on your mind starting today. If you’re lucky to get a job as soon as you finish your collegiate journey—you’ve gotten past the first of many hurdles. However, I’m sure the job you get will only be a placeholder as you take the first steps into building a name for yourself and advancing in your career. So, what’s missing? What do you need to take into account as you move forward and begin the next phase of your life?

1. Manage your weeks by setting monthly goals.

Part of the challenges that many of us face is that once we finish college, we are completely in control of our schedule. Sure, we may have a job that we have to take into account, but odds are, you won’t be working more than 40 hours a week, leaving you 128 hours in a week to prioritize your time.
We can’t think about prioritizing our time through a system of personal task management, though. This is what we’ve made ourselves accustomed to for quite some time, and it’s a paradigm that we have to shift out of very quickly. Thinking about goals that you have on both the micro (daily & weekly) levels & the macro (monthly & annual) levels is the first step in creating a system for ourselves in managing our time. I’m sure we all have goals that we want to see ourselves achieve but, if we aren’t consciously creating the infrastructure to get ourselves there—we are doing a disservice to our future-selves.

2. Make “No” a part of your toolbox.

Using no as a tool for time management Kenny Soto

One of the challenges in creating your time management infrastructure is learning that within your limited amount of time, other people want you to spend time with them. Whatever the reasons may be, everyone we know who we interact with wants us to invest our time in them. Family, friends, and employers all want us to allocate time into what they and realistically speaking we do need to comply—but not all the time.
There are certain times for example when we need to forego our instinct to please those we love and sometimes those we even work for, to focus on our self-development and goals. Not only that, we need to take into account that we need to say no to ourselves as well. Delaying gratification to get the things we need to get done on a daily basis is paramount to creating successful habits for when we are older. If we are always procrastinating, we will consistently see it as a thing that is permissible in our lives, when it certainly isn’t.

3. Focus on File/App Management.

This is a lesson I would have learned if it wasn’t for a fraternity brother of mine. There’s very little your mind can do when reacting to a cluttered desktop. The effects of poor file management are insidious, to say the least; they aren’t as harmful to your productive in from a mobile environment (doesn’t mean that the following advice doesn’t apply). If you want to speed up the process in which you work on your computer—keep it organized. This means that there should be folders and necessary subfolders for all aspects of your digital life. I’ve saved at least 20 minutes of every day ever since I took my friends advice, and I schedule every Sunday morning to file/app management just to keep clarity on my screens.

4. Screw your notifications.

This goes hand-in-hand with number 2 but deserves its section. We are bombarded with notifications daily from a whole slew of platforms. One of the main things that deter us from concentrating on our everyday tasks is the need to view and respond to every notification that comes our way. This is a big mistake, and it can cost hours during each month.
When creating the self-discipline to say no to others, you also have to say no to people online. Everyone else is being bombarded with notifications as well, so if you take 5-6 hours to respond later, it won’t ruin their day—half of the time they won’t even notice. This relates to not only your emails but, also with your social media notifications and especially your texts. I use Hubspot’s Sidekick Gmail extension to schedule all of my email replies every morning, and I won’t check my inbox until two hours before I go to bed.

5. Keep simple things, simple.

Not all of our tasks have equal importance in our daily affairs. Somethings obviously more to us than others. It’s why we all have to create the habit of selective-slacking, creating a system of putting minimal effort in the things that don’t require excellence. It is easy to make things complicated; a true challenge is making certain tasks simpler. If we can put minimal effort in things we don’t want to do, and most importantly, tackling those tasks at the very beginning of our day—we’ll have more time to do the things we want to do.

6. Schedule your sleep.

Sleeping as a habit for time management Kenny Soto

This seems obsessive but, it is an essential step to creating an effective time management system. Not only are there studies out there that mention the health implications of getting a lack of sleep, but it’s also a part of our culture as young people in our early 20s-30s to forgo our sleep to be more productive and get work as much work done as possible each day. This is getting in your way. The typical college habit of breaking night to finish a paper isn’t going to fly after graduating. People are most productive when they get 6-8 hours of sleep and even then, 20-30 naps in the middle of each day are highly recommended.
As someone who used to play video games late into the night (sometimes sleeping around 3 A.M. & waking up at 6 A.M. several days in a row) I can attest to the fact that ever since I’ve followed a rigorous sleep schedule I’ve become much more efficient in everything I do. I can concentrate more, execute tasks faster, and I am beginning to notice a greater sense of alertness ever since I had started two months ago. One of the most important factors to a healthy lifestyle is getting enough sleep, and it is a vital part of building the foundation for good time management.

If you adopt at least one of these steps into your life, I guarantee there will be a massive amount of upside on both your productivity and ability to create free time. Because, at the end of the day the best perk of establishing an efficient system of time management is, you get a lot more time to do the things you want to do—for me, that’s taking even longer naps.

If you found this article useful, click here to subscribe to my newsletter: SUBSCRIBE

Recommended articles:

  1. The 5 Secrets of Very Productive People Are Just Common Sense
  2. 16 bad habits that are sabotaging your productivity
  3. How Steve Jobs gets things done
CCNY USG Career Building

4 Career Building Lessons I Learned From My Team

This article was originally posted on April 6th, 2016.


Anything worth something can not be done without a great team of people, period. The following are a list of career-building lessons I gained from my team at CCNY.

Regardless of your profession,whatever your goals and aspirations in life may be in they cannot be achieved without a great team of people by your side. After some time of self-reflection and  reminiscing on the experiences I’ve had for the past three years attending college, I couldn’t help but notice a lot of things.

Recruitment is the first thing you need to do.

You can’t do anything without a team. The objective doesn’t matter, if you can’t sell your ideas you won’t get people to join you. The biggest hurdle all leaders will face is recruiting team members. I learned this when I began conducting interviews for potential candidates for my fraternity. When a candidate is being interviewed, they are not only selling themselves to you, but you are also selling your company to them. I’ll admit, during the first couple of interviews that I was directly involved in, I found myself negligent when it came to making the candidates feel like they were a part of the team. This is why it is so important to follow up with accepted candidates immediately after their interviews and get them acclimated with the team’s mission and vision. A great resource I used to help with my hiring skills is “How Google Works” by Eric Schmidt, I cannot recommend this book enough.

You won’t get anything done if you can’t motivate people.

Over the past few weeks, I have noticed that my team members in student government seem to have a constant sense of urgency and purpose in everything they do. Whether it relates to our weekly meetings, daily tasks regarding student outreach, office management, reporting on tasks, or just general office maintenance, everyone seems to have found where they “fit.” This certainly didn’t happen overnight. Since the beginning of my tenure as President of this wonderful organization, I made it abundantly clear that I would be open to any communication from my team as well as constructive dialogue. Transparency is the pillar that our team stands on. I have observed in the past that important information that is given to the leadership of an organization usually becomes diluted (almost to the point where it’s completely vague) when it is relayed to the entire team. Being completely open with your teammates about all issues and objectives the organization is dealing with is essential for “team-buy-in.” If your team members don’t feel like they can be trusted with company information (especially any failures the leadership has committed) then they won’t be motivated to tackle challenges when they present themselves. There are numerous techniques today that can help you get started on initiatives to increase team motivation. As a team leader, it should be something that is on your radar at all times.

When it comes to getting things done, follow the “Four D’s.” 

The best article I’ve stumbled upon on this topic is here. I won’t go over all four D’s, what I will do, is go over the importance of delegation. Delegating tasks is by far the greatest and most important skill a leader must have if they want to get anything done. Once you have a team, and they’ve become motivated, the next step should be how well can you prepare them to execute a task. How effective is your organization right now? What can you do to increase your productivity tenfold? Are there any mitigating factors that are stopping your team from getting there right now? These are questions I ask myself on a weekly basis as I plan my goals for the week. The hardest part of managing a team is understanding which team member can handle a certain set of tasks. It always helps when team members ask for specific tasks without you having to announce them; these team members have a natural instinct for detecting the needs of the organization as a whole as well as understanding what they are capable of completing. Delegation for me is quite simple, I follow two basic rules:

 

  • Delegate tasks to people who want to do them.

  • Never set the deadline yourself.

 

Always make sure the tasks you assign people are something they actually want to do. This takes a tremendous amount of time requiring you to sit  down and listen to your team members. What do they complain about? Why are they a part of the team in the first place? Everyone has a goal in mind when they are working with you, there is a reason you were able to convince them to join you in your endeavors. Make sure you keep your ears on the ground, a great leader listens to all of their teammates. In addition, when giving a task to someone, make sure they set their deadlines. It took me a while to see the upside to this. When you set the deadline you don’t give your team room to breath (in the context of my work I find that whenever I give deadlines there are 1,000 other things going in their life). When you have them set their own deadlines it relieves stress on their part and if they honor their own commitments, they hold themselves accountable.

Meetings don’t equal productivity.

This is the most important lesson I have learned. No matter what happens, I have always made it a requirement  to follow this simple rule: always have an agenda for every meeting you attend. There should be absolutely no reason why you should meet with team members just to meet. If your team cannot produce actionable tasks after a meeting is conducted, then why was the meeting conducted in the first place? Meetings shouldn’t become part of the routine – there needs to be a reason for it to happen. You risk losing valuable working hours when conducting meetings that do not contribute to the vision of the company, tackle specific challenges that the team is currently facing, or addresses any internal conflicts the team may have.

Every team is different, but I do know that sticking to principles that your team defines as its priority, help steer it to success. Hopefully, one of these lessons resonates with you. Talk and share this article with your team, see what they think.

If you found this article useful, click here to subscribe to my newsletter: SUBSCRIBE

Recommended Articles:

  1. 9 Super Effective Ways to Motivate Your Team
  2. 3 ways Steve Jobs made meetings insanely productive — and often terrifying
  3. 10 Mistakes To Avoid When Recruiting
Pr2politics Kenny Soto Raven Robinson

Pr2Politics: Interview With Raven Robinson

Public Relations, The Political Arena, Advice For College Students, and More…

“Never plan, always be prepared.” – We still haven’t found out…go figure.

Raven Robinson

Episode 2 is here! Raven Robinson is the owner of Pr2Politics, a consulting firm that offers public relations services to political candidates and emerging public figures. She currently holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from The City College of New York, where she served as the President of their Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter. She is also the author of “Your Campaign: A business owner’s guide to understanding public relations”, a workbook that helps entrepreneurs with their public relations strategies. In 2015, Raven was featured in City & State Magazine as a “Top 40 under 40 Rising Star in Government”. Ms. Robinson is currently the Vice President of Government Affairs for The Women In Entertainment Empowerment Network (WEEN).


 


Show Notes:

  • Interview starts. [0:00]
  • Raven’s background. [0:33]
  • How she began to “bridge the gap.” [6:30]
  • Her experience with “Early Twitter.” [8:00]
  • Her observations on social media usage from college students. [10:50]
  • What should someone consider if they plan to start a career in public relations?  [14:24]
  • What does entrepreneurship mean to you? [17:15]
  • What is a successful life? [22:17]
  • What is a personal brand? [23:04]
  • Raven’s question for the audience… [24:44]

Book mentioned at the end: “Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person” by Shonda Rhimes

Shonda Rhimes Year of The Yes Kenny Soto

Recommended Articles:

  1. Why Every Marketing Major Should Toss Their Textbooks In The Trash
  2. 5 Tips for Politicians Using Social Media
Page 1 of 212