How You Can Really Help

There are many ways you can lend a hand to people in developing nations.

Give Time

Charities need volunteers. Stuffing envelops is as tedious as it sounds, but it’s work that must be done. The United Nations has a clearinghouse where you can find ways to volunteer on-line. You could also Donate Your Birthday.

Give Money to Individuals

You’ve seen the television advertisements asking you to sponsor a child. In most cases, cash does not go directly to the child; it’s pooled with other donations to help the child’s community. Heifer International allows you to buy a farm animal that will be given to a family. You can also loan small by meaningful amounts through micro-lending organizations such as Kiva.

Give Money to an Organization

Simple. Straightforward. Just write a check. Silicon Valley uses crowd-funding to raise cash, which is a pretty forward-thinking way to leverage lots of people and a good cause.

The upside is that most donations are tax deductible. The downside is that you are not doing something more direct.

Volunteer in a Developing Country

Exciting. Adventurous. The sort of thing that changes lives for the volunteer and the recipient. Think Peace Corp. But if you have no real skills or relevant experience, you’re better off sending money or doing some of the other things on this list.


You can do so much more when you have others helping you. There is nothing stopping you from organizing an event for your favorite charity or petitioning your elected officials to support your cause. Advocacy is the Entrepreneurship of Non-For-Profits.

What ways do you give?

Crossposted on LinkedIn

Advice to a Younger Me

I had lunch with a friend’s son recently. Like most recent college graduates, he is actively searching for his first real job.

Since we both have degrees in Economics, he was looking for advice. Unlike accounting majors, jobs for econ majors don’t stick out. There are no “Staff Economists” or “Junior Economic Analyst I” job titles, unless you want to work for the Federal Reserve. But there are jobs out there for people with solid skills in statistics and math.

During the course of our conversation, I could almost hear myself talking to the younger me with the lessons many of us learn during our careers.

Develop Your Network Now

You have a mafia. It’s your alumni association. They can help you with introductions and career advice simply because you share a common bond.

If you pledged Greek, you have another mafia that can help.

Cultivate those connections. Use them and then give back. That is how it works.

Have a Long-Term Goal and a Plan to Get There

You have a passion. It may not be what you will do in your first post-college job, but you have one.

My ideal job would be in Humanitarian Relief, working to help those in crisis caused by man or nature. What skills do I need? How can I get there?

Develop your passion. Nurture it. Learn what it takes to get there, pick up the skills necessary to get there, and work towards that goal.

Consider the Quality of Life You Want to Have

How are you spending time with the people who will cry at your funeral?

If you want to run a marathon before you are 30, take steps now. If you want to have a family and live on a ranch in Montana, take steps now. If you want to teach, study now.

Identify Your Weaknesses and Improve Them

In the next decade, people who will do best in the workforce will have two skills.

They will be good in statistical analysis, and they will know how to write code.

My weakness today is a lack of coding skills. I learned BASIC, Pascal, FORTRAN and C++. Not much use for those today (except C++), so I am learning Python.

What skills will you need to have the career you want?

Build Your Personal Board of Directors

You are the CEO of your own business: the business of your career. Like a Corporate Board of Directors, Personal Board brings diverse perspectives and skills to the table. Here is my essay on how to Building a Personal Board of Directors.

I think the advice holds up. What would you tell the younger you?

Crossposted at LinkedIn.

Do You Have a Personal Board of Directors?

As more professionals direct their own career, you are the CEO of your own business.

The business of your career.

Why stress over managing that career when you can tap the wisdom of others to help you?

It’s called a Personal Board of Directors.

Just like a Corporate Board, a Personal Board brings diverse perspectives and skills to the table. These are people who are interested in your success and are willing to give you their advice, encouragement, and an honest assessment.

How do you build your own Personal Board of Directors? Who do you ask?

Here are five types of people I have on my own Board.

  • Connector – A respected member of the community who has the ability to influence others and help you access a broader network
  • Expert – Someone who has accomplished what you are trying to do
  • Sponsor – A senior-level person who is willing to open doors for you
  • Listener – Someone who knows you well and will allow you to rant when you need to clear your mind
  • Enforcer – A non-nonsense person who holds you accountable and tells you who’s holding the cards, even when it isn’t you

Mentors offer impartial advice, critical feedback and they hold you accountable. Being a mentor gives you the opportunity to build an during career network as well as gain insight and different views from younger members of your profession. Proteges can shake the cobwebs in your mind.

In my experience, the relationship has to be one of mutual assistance. One party can’t be the taker. You have to give as much as you receive.

You can’t get anywhere, however, until you start.

Crossposted at LinkedIn.