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The Perks of College Poverty

March 25, 2012

Call it a silver lining or the upkeep of an illusion, but sometimes, a college kid has to find the bright side of being totally and completely broke. Unless you have the benefit of a trust fund, most kids in college at some point or another, maybe while checking their online statement, discover they are down to their last benjamin.

A lot goes through your head.

– I will starve before I tell my parents

-Man I am really going to have to budget

-I wonder what kind of prospects my march madness bracket has?

-Is the lotto over 100 million yet?

After the initial shock, and the prospect of formals and social events go flying from your future grasp, any resilient college kid will shake it off, and decide with determination that not all is lost. As long as you can have the willpower to stick to a budget. So how do college kids prioritize their budget?

with the following guiding principle: given the X dollars you make in a week, spend half on beer, and save the rest to the best of your ability.

Food? Scooter repair?

-No. At the end of the day, food can be scavenged, a college gear head can fix your moped, and if you don’t allot half your budget to saving for social events, there is a 100% probability that you will be pissed that you are missing out, and you are going to take that anger out on a bowl of ice cream; Which you bought as an extra grocery item (i.e something other than beer) and therefore violating the only guiding principle of college budgeting.

If you are successful in your budgeting commitment there are a few skills/lessons to be gained:

1. Eating local/organic/fair trade is a dumb marketing ploy targeted towards overprotective mothers.

2. Eating local/organic/fair trade beer is a dumb marketing ploy targeted towards artisan hipsters. Or people from Ashville, NC.

3. Hormone injected fruits and vegetables are not only cheaper, but a helluva lot bigger. $$$

4. College poverty  opens the door of creativity not only in the form of cheap food creations, but also cheap thrills.

5.  Your willingness to do things for money is high. You will almost do anything. Sometimes that puts you in situations that you would not expect yourself to be in. Like driving around drunk 40 somethings so that they can see if their chihuahua is safe at home.

6. It builds character. That’s what adults tell me.

7. Most people assume your poor because you are in college, so you can usually milk that for all its worth. Or get out of participating in pay only events that you don’t want to attend and bemoan your budget.

8. Well, its only up from here. Its not like you can lose money from being totally broke.

9. You can create lofty lifestyle goals on pinterest without people wondering if you actually can afford it. Like creating a huge pin board comprised of designer clothes and chanel bags like it is something you are pinterested in purchasing. If you could afford that stuff, you would look totally obnoxious, but since you are poor in college, you get a pass.

And after you are done going HAM on pinterest, go into your fridge, crack a beer, or in many a case a twisted tea and be glad that you have a semilegitimate excuse to call it your meal.

 

 

Another weekend. Same party

March 18, 2012

You never think that you will ever be ready to leave college until…its another sunday, another end to an identical weekend, and another identical sunday workload. 

The typical junior year milestones are going abroad and turning 21, and then it suddenly clicks- adulthood. New frustrations arise:

why does Davidson College feel the need to micromanage where I socialize ont he weekends, and why the heck isn’t there a bar on main st?

Why can’t I find a job?

Why is the hook up scene so unsatisfying?

I don’t have enough money to feed myself. And I don’t have time for a job.

My pinterest boards have a much more expensive taste than I do. .

Most of us hope this “I am so over college attitude” is just a phase, we spend time reminiscing about freshman year, but at the end of the day, we are not the 17 and 18 year olds experiencing a court party for the first time.

We don’t need an attitude adjustment, we need coping mechanisms.

Coping Mechanism #1: Make 2 very important bucket lists

Bucket list number 1: the list of things you absolutely have to do before you leave college.

Everyone talks about their crazy college stories. That time they drove a car onto the quad, or that other time when they drank with a professor.  Come up with your own list. No judgement. And commit to crossing off every experience before you graduate

Bucket List #2: The bucket list of your twenties. A wise mexican in Shanghai once told me: your twenties are the ten years of your life that are absolutely for you.  Whether it is going to Burning Man, or going soul searching in India, or starting your business, commit to your twenties bucket list and see what you can start crossing off now.

Coping Mechanism #2: Go to networking events

Go to networking events because a) you never know who you are going to meet and 2) free drinks (sometimes if you are a boy and definitely if you are a girl) and 3) Above all else, its a chance to hang out with older people, which is a good way to feel better about yourself when you realize that you regularly party with 17 and 18 year olds.

Coping Mechanism #3 Xanex

I haven’t tried it. but I hear it does wonders for whatever you got.

Coping Mechanism #4 Positive Affirmations

As long as you are busy not giving a wit about the college scene…take some time to get really comfortable with who you are.  You are stuck with your own self identity longer than you will be stuck being a junior. Stop worrying about who you are hooking up with, what formal you were or were not invited to, or whether you got the internship.  This will be the only time I ever endorse this: stop competing, take yourself out of the rat race, take a chill pill (xanex?) and let your freak flag fly. Take a class in the science of knowing yourself and your post grad years will thank you.

Coping Mechanism #5 Break Rules

I’m not saying break the honor code or go rob a bank. I am saying that sometimes a walk on the wild side is where memories are made. Breaking rules is a breakaway from the mundane, and might be the solution to the drab monotony of being a junior. So go ahead climb the new building construction, wear white before easter, do yoga on chambers lawn, or just resolve to be really weird on the table at the next court party you go to….in the words of Gib from the epic 80s classic, A Sure Thing, don’t be so repressed.

Now that I have offered a significant excuse for my future law breaking, legitimated the use of xanex and my attendance at networking events…I am going to go ahead and sign off, and remind my parents of my sarcasm so they don’t ship me off to rehab before I have time to actually accomplish all this.

Pinsanity

February 26, 2012
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Is the the title peaking your pinterest? If you aren’t attempting to figure out the new Facebook timeline, so there is such a thing as a “right” cover photo? and you aren’t tweeting about how you misplaced your dignity somewhere at the frat house the night before, then you are definitely meticulously scanning and creating elaborate pin boards for yourself on Pinterest in a concerted effort to visually display what you are passionate about.

If you live under a rock, you probably didn’t think my title was that interesting because you 1. haven’t heard of pinterest and 2. also don’t know about Jeremy Lin, the asian star child making tiger mothers across the nation reconsider their investment in violin lessons.  So if you live under a rock, I am not going to explain pinterest to you because it would be pointless (pin-tless?).

For the new pinners out there, you may be wondering what is the point? (pin-t?) of all this? Why is Pinterest gaining so much traction, and what use is it beyond procrastination and a more efficient way to glance at food porn and plan my wedding simultaneously?

I have a theory. Like all social media platforms, when there is an opportunity to express one’s individuality, there is also a hidden opportunity for self promotion. My theory is that pinterest is unique in that you are creating a visual image/reputation for yourself that is beyond your more exclusive digital networks of Facebook.  In the same way that Twitter is an opportunity to self promote whether as an aggregator of ideas or the source of ideas, Pinterest is an opportunity to visually self promote, and in some ways, it sends a stronger message than the 140 character limit on Twitter.

An example:

You are designing this board on Pinterest, lets call it “travel”.  So you are going to put up a bunch of nice pictures of places that you would like to travel to.  So you start perusing your friends boards, maybe you go to the most popular boards, then you find yourself on a strangers much cooler, more developed travel board.  So you start thinking to yourself, wow this person must be really well rounded because they want to go to so many places.  Then you extrapolate, this person must be really cool….so you wander to their board about fashion.  Suddenly you are obsessed with this person’s interests. I wonder what kind of kitchen they want….and you are sucked into the Pinterest black hole of a stranger who you you have convinced yourself is  cooler version of you.

So you repin absolutely everything. Now you are looking preeetttyyyy interesting (pinteresting?) if you do say so yourself.

And the cycle continues. If you are lucky, people will buy into your boards and start following your Pinterests and you become Pinterest’s next Jane Wang (retiree that casually has thousands of followers).

Do you see where I am going with this? Pinterest is like the LinkedIn of gauging how interesting you are with the masses. Its like the high school cafeteria except the food looks better and the clothes are free.

Keeping that in mind, whats the best way to self promote?

1.Instead of repinning, start finding your own unique stuff to pin on your boards, your profile will get more facetime with strangers.  The more strangers that visit your boards, the better.

2. Get really specific with your boards.  So you are into dessert? Don’t do a “dessert” board….just go HAM on making a board strictly devoted to Nutella based desserts.  You will access a niche, and your boards will spread like wildfire.

3. Invite your friends (I mean, that is a given right? I just thought I would shout out to the geezers out there)

4. There is definitely a way to look like a sociopath on Pinterest.  Don’t be that person with boards that are a) devoted to really weird things like sock monkeys or really emo quote posters and memes. and b) the girl that appears to have her entire wedding planned out down to the way you plan to fold your napkins. Don’t display your hand ladies, keep the wedding obsession to yourself, or in a journal, or maybe when you are actually engaged. 

So think before you pin. get pinning. be cool, and maybe your future boss will follow you someday making the interview process that much easier because….well, frankly you are just a whole lot cooler that him.

Grow your own Entrepreneur

February 23, 2012
entrepreneur1

Can it be? A new post? You could have sworn that I had abandoned my post at Confused by Confucius. How long has it been? Weeks?

Au contraire, I am alive and well, just a little busy.  I know, excuses excuses…but really, trying to start a company, handle class, and find time to hang out is quite the juggling act.  In fact it has rendered me rather ill.  To the average person. I probably have a cold, but to me, it might as well be the plague.  I never get sick, so one hint of a cough or fever renders me bedridden and helpless.

At any rate, I have fallen into a pattern of calling my mother to talk whenever I am walking somewhere around campus.  Not only do I feel like I am effectively keeping in touch with my family, but I also feel extremely popular.  Yesterday, we were talking about whether entrepreneurs are born naturally, or whether you could raise one yourself.  So I did some soul searching….as it turns out, I think there were some critical aspects of my upbringing that helped me along the path of budding entrepreneurhood.

1. In the same way that doctor’s kids know all the symptoms of a heart attack by age 5, the carter children knew about the concept of a market from a young age.  My father was a trader. He traded his own money, managed his own hours, and talked about the market at dinner.  LIttle kids can understand investment if you put it in simple terms.  Take, the stock ticker on cnbc. I remember asking my mom what the acronym for mcdonald’s was, and then I would sit in front of the TV and wait for it to glide across the screen and if the stock was up, I would announce ot the house that people were buying Mcdonalds and that we should buy some too.

2. Let your kid fail. I lost every single student government election until my junior year of high school.  I even wore a convincing and professional brown suede pants suit in the fourth grade, and it still didnt get me the vote. But every year I put myself out there and sure enough, after tweaking my platforms and stage presence, I finally got it. No, it wasn’t my sister’s nutella crepes, I won those high school kids over with my charm!

3. Don’t give your child money. Provided you didn’t raise a total dunce, your kid is going to be resourceful when they are short on funds, but they want to buy things. Lack of resources leads to problem solving.  Though hindsight is twenty twenty, I cannot tell you how happy I am that I had to earn my right to go out to movies, buy clothes, and now that I am in college budget my food.  That doesn’t mean I’m okay with being poor. In fact, I am so not okay with it that I decided to develop a start up…go figure.  Provided that your child is also not a dishonest twerp…he will not resort to drug dealing or fake id making (although those options are technically entrepreneurial).

4. Do support the first lemonade stand.  In order to supplement my meager allowance ($2.00) for chores (not extensive) around the house, My sister and I often looked to alternative forms of funding in our younger years.  Many of our business ventures began as lemonade stands.  My parents never blinked as we used garage furniture, pitchers, and umbrellas to post up on our driveway selling warm lemonade for 25 cents.  As we got older, our ventures escalated to selling brownies, a pet walking service, and a failed attempt at a carwash.  Unfortunately, our business ventures did not really have the longevity a second grader might hope for due to irreconcilable differences that would consistently arise between myself and my cofounder.

5. Let your child fight their own battles. Initially. Allowing your kids to learn how to do things themselves and learn that working with others is a fact of life will ultimately make them easier to work with and a more able leader should they ever endeavor to start a business. There are situations when intervention is necessary. Exhibit A: my current email battle with my dean after I wasn’t granted permission to live off campus next year.  twenty one years old, and not allowed to choose where I live.  As much as I would like to say I have klout, our campus has little regard for their own students when it comes to money making. My parents will have more influence over the success of this battle. If anyone at Davidson College is reading this, spread the word and support the freedom to choose our own housing. To prospective students, Davidson might be a residential campus, but 98% of us certainly don’t choose to live there.

 

So there you have it….Don’t be over protective, and don’t mindlessly give your child money. If you can accomplish that, you are well on your way to successful entrepreneurial parenting.

While you think about that, I will finish up Campus Sherpas application to Tech Stars Boulder Summer 2012!

Campus Sherpas

January 30, 2012
campussherpa3-1

On behalf of our founders, Alexa Stanley and Russell Mawn, and our illustrious employee number 1, Brendon Scheinman, we are proud to give you the launch page of our new tech start up Campus Sherpas. 1 month into the making, the launch page is the first sign that something big is coming. you guessed it, our beta launch.  What is Campus Sherpas you ask? Well if you are a Davidson College student it means that you are in the position to participate in our beta version of the site.  Our startup recognized the problem with a shortage of jobs and time to do them around campus, as well as the need for busy people to shoulder off some of their pesky errands to other people around campus. So we bring you the Campus Sherpas, a service that connects these two groups of people in need of each other on a fresh new platform complete with user profiles and a high degree of social media integration (eventually).  We are so excited to launch, not just because I can pay people to do hilarious things like short sheet my co founders bed, but I can also use the platform to market my mad skills to the local college community.  Sign up and show your support here:

But whats a launch? What is beta? Stop using words that make you sound like an arrogant entrepreneur, you aren’t Mark Zuckerberg you idiot. (although you could be if you signed up for RLO next semester.)

I’ll admit, there is a pretty steep learning curve that comes with starting a startup.

Beta: its what start up founders call the first version of their company.  It is like saying its officially functional, but not ready for mass consumption.  Chances are their are going to be hiccups, and we are going to use your valuable feedback to make it better. Why be an early adopter? The sweet rewards you can accumulate, bragging rights for when we inevitably hit it big, and chances are, all the services are totally at no cost to you during beta.

Launch: the day we first go live to the campus. The first day of the rest of your errandless/wealthy lives.

Startup Accelerator: chances are, you will hear Alexa and I talking about applying to a tech accelerator.  It is a program that exposes founders to  develop their concept, meet and network with leaders and successful entrepreneurs, and at the end, present their business in a VC round. Its kind of like getting a startup into the ivy league.  It means that we have a good shot at not utterly failing. Campus Sherpas is applying to five. We want in.

VC: venture capital.  It comes in the form of a branch off a major business, a fund, or even a group.  The invest seed funding to fledgling businesses betting that they will develop into big and successful businesses so they can make a ton of $$$.  my dad is a founding member of this one in Chicago.

Anyway, I have a lot to do today. But if you are on Campus reading this because you brought your computer to class and decided my post trumped taking notes…..then sign up for campus sherpas and invite your friends.

www.campussherpas.com

The 20-something Consultant

January 26, 2012

AIM bots. BFFAEAE

While I can’t say that I am in the race to join Bain Consulting in my post grad life, I have seen  my junior friends in action.  They go to interviews, concentrate for hours on detailed case studies, and soul search for the one thing that will set them apart from the pack. But one doubtful question seems to plague both the actors and the observers, such as myself, in this whole ordeal: what kind of valuable insight does a twenty-something have to offer a company given little to no experience?

I’ll tell you one thing, it certainly had me stumped. And I am not even applying to Bain. I am providing readers with occasional wit, and casually starting a company on campus that, statistically, is doomed for failure. Hows that for investing in my future?

Furthermore, as someone who is trying to run a company, and certainly could use some consulting on a few areas with particularly steep learning curves, you think for one second that I would hire a twenty year old to fresh out of college?

Absolutely yes.

College kids offer incredibly valuable insight on cutting edge trends in business.

1. Perhaps most importantly, is we understand social media. I got my first screenname through mac.com at age 11. Consequently, the name remains both permanent and unable to edit.  Holla at bunnygirl1@mac.com if you want to facetime. My sister got a facebook against my mother’s wishes in the sixth grade. In case you missed it, she was a self proclaimed swimsuit model at stanford university.  Not only were we early adopters, but my sister and I understand the value of viral marketing within social media. Bunnygirl1 was a name that was going to catch the eye, make my fifth grade crush think “hey this girl is pretty cool based on her screenname”.  My sister knew the value in redefining a product to gain influence on a social media site.  Braces or no braces, I’m sure caroline had some people that contacted her via private message that believed her hook, line, and sinker. Even without my anecdotes, plain and simple, college kids know how to improve the brand of a business using social media. P.S I am relatively certain my sister’s flirtation with a changed identity on the internet was a significant motivator for my father’s involvement in social media. He now has several thousand followers on twitter and a successful blog.

2. Blogging. We twenty somethings knew what worked on xanga (the blogging site from the early days) and what didn’t work.  Things that worked: talking about the good, thought provoking things in your life. My mom finally let me listen to spice girls! Things that didn’t work: I was totally annoyed when my supposed best friend kissed my secret crush (that I have been writing about for the past week on xanga).  Anecdotes aside, we understand that blogging (and twitter microblogging) is important.  Developing a brand around a person is going to be more important in the coming years.  Probably more influential than I can imagine right now.

3. We all have Ipads.  You don’t need to pay my for this, but if you don’t have your company rocking the ipad, you are missing out on some serious productivity potential.

4. We are more critical of business than other generations. I am not going to get political and talk about the “bad guys” on wall street who extort money from the 99%. As far as I am concerned, they have the potential to get me a job after college. But I think we twenty somethings understand the importance of maintaining transparency when conducting business so everyone is on the same page.  Maybe if a twenty something was advising Barack Obama, we could have convinced him that bailing out Solyndra was a dumb move. One concession I will make on behalf of my generation: our majority support for that guy. I guess being a minority doesn’t automatically make you the political second coming. Lesson learned.

5. And last but not least, perhaps our lack of experience, provides us with some of the most valuable insight because it allows us to understand a business from a fresh perspective.  Our generation gets a lot of flack for being self absorbed, anti social, and entitled, but never have we been considered a generation lacking innovation.

Tuesday Links to Tickle Your Brain

January 24, 2012

My class was cancelled today.

And ConfusedbyConfucius needed some love.  As our techstartup  continues to code itself into reality, (we are shooting to become a legal entity this week!),  I have found myself with less and less time in the day to sit and digest it all.

Which means my writing has suffered.  Not that I haven’t been writing, all the webcontent and auto reply email is the work of Alexa Stanley and I.  So my mom came up with a great idea for the interim period of little blogging time: be an aggregator for the articles I am reading.

1. This sounds like a pretty sweet job description to me!

2. the new crazy shoes I just bought!

3. no that I am 21….I am legally allowed to think about this stuff

4. A useful website for Davidson Students

5. this is a great site for good music (especially of the workout or party variety)

current reading list:

The Lean Startup