Give and Tell

When I walk the Manhattan Streets with my dog, I often get asked for directions, most commonly, how to get to the subway. I guess I have one of those friendly faces. Or they figure if I’m with a dog I probably live in the neighborhood.

Most often I tell them the way- two blocks west on 23rd…if you want to go downtown cross the street. Don’t forget to change trains at Union Square I say, and send them off on their merry way.

Occasionally, if someone seems totally perplexed, and if it’s not too out of my way, I walk them to where they should go, or give them a head start…

Which leads me to my next thought: Is it better to give directions, or is it better to lead someone someplace? Think of it as a variation on give a person a fish they eat that day, teach them how to fish they eat for a lifetime…

Do you ask for directions?


Do you ask to be led?

I know I am a directions person. And I like to get my hands dirty. I like to put into action what I’m trying to do. I need to experiment. I think it comes down to being visual. I don’t really like to listen to things other than music. Can’t do audio books…I miss half the story…

And I certainly don’t want people doing things for me.

I don’t want people telling me what to do…

I like to read a variety of sources. I like to ascertain the pros and the cons. Then I formulate an opinion. I give myself the berth to allow my opinion to change over time…

But I am definitely not following the Pied Piper around.

I don’t jump on a bandwagon because it’s popular or on trend. I don’t see the need to do something just because everyone else is doing it.

I like to be in charge of my thoughts and actions.

I know I am far from perfect. But I own my choices.

Yet I realize that there are people who want to be told what to do. People who want to be led.

I don’t really understand this point of view…

Why do people want to be led? Why do people want to follow?

And don’t tell me it’s because everyone can’t be leaders. That’s a cop out of an answer. You can create your own path without being a “leader”.


Your assignment today:

Give me the pros to my con…


You know my family just completed a college tour road trip- 7 colleges, 16 states, 2800 miles.  Seeing 7 colleges brought the total up to 15 colleges visited.  My daughter has narrowed down her choices and is now starting the application process.  Here’s how she narrowed it down.

There are about 4000 colleges in the US.  Where do you go from there?  Well, the editor of the Princeton Review “Top 382 Colleges in America” gave a talk at my daughter’s school, and handed out copies of the book.  So we went from 4000 to 382 pretty quickly.  (Let me add, this is how we did it- you can narrow down the field anyway you want) But, along side this book, we had done a few tours of college campuses.  We spread the field a bit- we visited a few different campuses- state schools, private schools, undergrad enrollment less than 5000, between 5 and 10000, and greater.  Urban and less urban.  After viewing the different options my daughter knew the following:

  1. 5000-10000 undergrad would be ideal. Larger was better than smaller
  2. Urban or town setting.  When you walked out of the campus gates, there needed to actually be something you could walk to
  3. Co-ed
  4. Strong humanities/pre law  program
  5. No farther west than the mid-west
  6. Law team/club/fraternity
  7. limited social fraternity
  8. limited team culture
  9. Low student/faculty ratio
  10. small class size
  11. classes taught by Professors not TA’s

We then went through the 382 colleges book page by page.  She narrowed down the field to 41 schools.   Of those 41 schools she broke it down into three levels-

  1. reach schools (schools where admittance rate for her was hovering around 15% or less,
  2. target schools (schools which she has a decent shot of getting into, meaning her grades and test scores fall into the middle to high range of where their admitted students are
  3. likely, which is schools where she is at the highest point or above where their students are

After separating them, she got on the mailing lists of any schools not already sending her information.  She attended road shows when available- road show meaning, representatives from the schools come to our area and give a presentation about the school.  She went on school websites and instagrams and whatever social media the school was using to promote itself.

Then she made a list of schools that she wanted to see in person to see if she liked the culture.  Honestly, she knew 3 minutes into an information session if she liked the school.  The person who introduces you to the school is a great barometer of what the school will be like- she separated the types of schools as follows:

  1. Touchy-feely- schools where the advisors have advisors.  These schools are very nurturing and will hold your hand through everything
  2. Cold- schools where they sort of feed you to the wolves- highly competitive atmosphere
  3. Pseudo intellectual- the kids are incredibly smart, and they let you know it at every single opportunity
  4. Quirky- kids that think outside the box about everything
  5. Intellectual- kids really do sit on the common and discuss philosophy
  6. Go team- half the campus will have there faces painted on game day, and students travel to away games
  7. Susie sorority- more than 50% of students are in Greek life and their is greek housing on campus
  8. granola- kids are so chill that literally nothing bothers them
  9. Academic- most kids have at minimum a double major
  10. Commuter- kids leave campus on weekends
  11. Involved- kids are involved in at least three different areas of campus life

Obviously, schools can carry more than one banner, but it’s very easy to break them down into categories.  Know thyself- which type of kid are you?  What are you looking for in a school? Which type makes you comfortable?  Which type of school would you thrive in? What type of people do you want to surround yourself by?

And now the list is down to 15, including two schools she has not toured/info session yet, but will most probably make the cut.  She will most probably apply to 15 schools- her school recommendation is 10 schools, but since she is top heavy on reach schools, she is spreading the field.  With the common app, applying to more schools is very easy- 90% of the work is done.  She has also been waived from admission fees at some of the schools, so cost is evening itself out.

Now- some of you are saying- “My kid won’t do this.” Some of you are parents that are asking the questions when you visit schools.  Some of you have kids who are sitting in the back row of info sessions and are on their phone the whole time.  Here’s what I say to that:

Maybe your child should not go to college right after High School.  No matter what anyone say, college is an option.  No one has to go to college.  College does not mean you will be successful – successful meaning that you will have an enriching career that challenges you and that you love.  If your kid hasn’t been interested in studying, and shows no interest in the college process, let them explore other options.  Colleges report six year graduation rates, because there are a lot of kids (going full time) who require 6 years to get a BA/BS degree, and it’s not usually because they changed majors.  Think about that.  Isn’t it better that a kid gets a job before they go to college so that they could think about what they want to do, instead of wasting time and money?

Also- community college.  Work a job, take a class.  Maybe they’ll find something they love.  Tech school- hello- to be an electrician or plumber or IT guy you have to be really smart, but they don’t require college.  And you will have a career and a skill.


You can think about which college you want to go to.

You can decide not to go to college

You can go to trade school.

You can be an entrepreneur. (but please take at least one accounting class so you have an idea about balance sheets)

The only bad option is doing something but not putting your heart and soul into it.  Enter the next phase of life passionate about something.  My daughter is passionate about continuing her education- that is evident by her choices.  But there is nothing wrong with being a 17 year old kid who does not know what they want to do.  i’m 54 and I still don’t know what I want to do.

The choice is figuring out what you want to do next.  If you love something, it always ends up working out.

Yes or No

People are often told they need to say “No” more.  Wanting to please becomes a way of life, so when asked to do something, they immediately reply “Yes”, before they’re even thought if they actually want to do it, or have time to do it.  So a movement of sorts was formed, one that gave people. especially women, the power that saying “No” was acceptable, indeed, preferable in many situations.

I do believe that everyone has the ability to say “No” to any situation, regardless of the reason.  No one should ever feel obligated to do something.


Shonda Rhimes wrote a book, “Year of Yes”, which basically detailed how saying “Yes” changed her life.  So have we gotten hasty with our use of the word “No”?

If something goes against your personal code of ethics, you need to say no.  There is no situation that should ever make you do something you believe is wrong.  If something is illegal, I’m also saying you should say no.  (People might disagree with me on this, but my feeling is that laws are carefully made.  What gives someone the power to arbitrarily disregard one that they don’t believe in?  Isn’t that anarchy?  And don’t bring up going 60 in a 55 mile zone- that’s not a good enough argument.)

If you have a full plate of work and personal commitments, should you decide to chair a banquet for school?  Well, you know how busy you are, whether or not you have the time.  But what if this is something that will actually enhance your life, bring you joy?  Shouldn’t you at least consider it?  What if your boss asks you to do a project not completely related to your roll?  What if the task brings about a great opportunity?  Shouldn’t you consider it?

As my daughter begins to really delve into what type of student colleges want, the one consistent message she’s seen is that all schools want the type of student who seizes the opportunities  that are put in front of them.  They want the kid that goes for it.  They want the kid that says “Yes”.


Because people that say yes are the ones that are actively participating in life.  They are the people that are learning by doing.  They are the people unafraid to make mistakes, the ones unafraid to fail. They are the people developing things, and leading movements and making their mark.

Yes is a powerful word.  Yes helps you reach your goals.  Yes helps your dreams become a reality.  Yes takes you where you head wants to be.  Yes takes you to where your heart wants to be.  Yes takes you to where you want to be.

Yes can also be a lot of fun.  We had a particularly warm day this week.  After a morning spent doing errands and work, I looked at my daughter and said “Do you want to get ice cream?”  Now, I’m supposed to be watching my weight, and she’s supposed to be studying everything under the sun, but sometimes when life hands you 72 degrees in the middle of February in New York, you kind of need to seize the moment. And maybe choose an ice cream shop a mile and a half away and walk both directions.  But get that strawberry rhubarb crisp in a cup and enjoy it.  Take twenty minutes out and talk to you kid about just anything.

Yes can be a wonderful word.

So before you give any answer, really consider what the question is.  Think about how yes will make you feel.  It’s actually a little bit positive versus negative now isn’t it?