I just heard from one of the presenters at our upcoming Fashion and Finance NYC retreat (there are a couple of open spots for the June 24-26 event, if you want to join us). Claire Meunier and her mother are going to do a joint session on the “Extreme Networking” it took for Claire to get established after earning an MBA from one of the top schools in the country. Their story is compelling and instructive. More than 16 percent of 20 to 24-year are unemployed and, short of a miracle, I am not feeling Pollyanna-ish about a big improvement anytime soon. The economy is undergoing a massive restructuring that no one wants to talk about. But more on that another day.
Claire and her mother are going to talk about what it took for Claire to land on her feet in a meaningful position, commensurate with her experience and education. It took Claire almost a year of relentless conversations, meetings, inquiries, reminders, letters, emails, more meetings, and outreach to everyone she had ever met in her life (You think I’m kidding; I’m not.) She understood she had to build a vast web of relationships—REAL relationships, not just Facebook friends or LinkedIn connections. She had to be relentlessly tenacious. She was and she succeeded. And her parents, used to a world in which hard work and a good track record are rewarded, had to adapt to the new environment their daughter faced.
Claire’s story is an important one because in many ways she had EVERYthing going for her: a great experience, top level education, supportive family, intellect, sense of humor, and social network that was already strong. Even with all those assets, her journey was challenging.
The implications for kids who don’t have such resources, or who are not prepared to attack the quest for meaningful, sustaining work are significant. Without Herculean effort, many young people will be left out of the pool for ‘great work’. And if they are counting on less challenging work where they can ‘get by’ they are still in trouble. Those entry-level jobs that used to soak up the energy of American kids are shrinking. Think of all the ticket booths, airline jobs, and retail functions once manned and womanned by actual people, now handled by bank ATMS, airline kiosks, self-service restaurants and electronic touch screens. The entry-level world that launched millions of boomers is vanishing.
Everyone coming to Fashion and Finance next week will enjoy the mother/daughter tale of how Claire got ‘launched.’ I plan to reprise my ‘Launch Webinar’ later this summer and will include stories from their presentation. This new economy requires that families manage their ‘human capital’ with a new attention to developing entrepreneurial kids with extreme networking skills and the capacity to build authentic relationships that will help them find a place in this new and changing economic web.