What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20 by Tina Seelig

I am a loving (and interfering) mother of a 20-year-old son so I thought I would read What I Wish I Knew When I was 20: A Crash Course on Making Your Place in the World and pass it on to him. I admit to sending him emails about Erik Erikson’s Stages of Development and what he should be doing as a young adult: intimacy versus isolation (Son, pick the correct side of the equation!) so I thought this book would give him a head’s up.

The author, Tina Seelig, also a mother of a 20-year-old son, teaches courses on entrepreneurship at Stanford University and is a voice for creative thinking and problem solving. I especially like her examples in this book of innovative ways to come up with solutions. She gives her students an item – paper clips or rubber bands, for example – and challenges them to create as much value as possible with the item. 

How do you identify opportunities?  She interviews her wallet! What do you like or hate about it? What would you change? Create a new one to solve the problem.  Problems to solve are in your back pocket. She encourages us to view the "upside down" circus like the Cirque du Soleil: they challenged the every assumption about what a circus should be—a dying industry—and found an opportunity.  She encourages us to push the envelope, find big problems and solve them, break the rules, take on leadership roles, and-- embrace failure. Even Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, got fired from Apple and then started Pixar, before resurfacing as Apple's CEO!

So, I did give my son the book and he did read it. I asked him what pearls of wisdom he had gleaned. He said he already knew everything in the book. To my chagrin, he is right on target as a second-year college student: he is sophomoric.