Home > Advice, Gen-Y, Personal, Photography, Road trip, Travel > A man named Ken and one hell of a conversation

A man named Ken and one hell of a conversation

(Written last Friday 10/5 – not published till now due to computer problems)

Last night was tough. Not in the I’m-sleeping-at-Wal-mart-and-these-guys-want-to-steal-my-rims type of way, but in the this-is-who-I-am-and-you-are-really-pushing-me type of way.

Let me explain.

I’m in St. Paul, MN at the moment, sitting on the porch of an immaculate house built in the late 1800’s. Inside the house lives a very smart man, who also happens to be wildly neurotic and during the period of two hours, flipped my reality upside down and shook my foundation.

It is not appropriate to go into too many details at this point, mainly because anything I say would be reactionary bullshit, but it is appropriate to talk about some of the larger themes of the discussion—The ones that left me scratching my head.

Halfway through out talk, Ken asked me why I believed in the social class structure. Now he didn’t quite phrase it like that, he’s a tenured communications professor so his words are a bit too big for my spell check, but what he was asking was why I thought there were roadblocks erected in my way.

During the majority of the conversation, Ken had asked me to describe my dream job. I rattled off the standard freelance writer gig, gym ownership idea, and business consultant, but he wasn’t buying the standard rhetoric.

Instead he wanted to know what my skills were, how they would provided value to a company, and how I was going to stop talking about things and go out there and do them.

I was left speechless.

Ken then told me a story about luck, and how being in the right place at the right time can be important. But after the story he told me how it didn’t change anything except give the participant a leg up. So why then was I making excuses for why I couldn’t do what I wanted?

I instantly got defensive. I rattled off what the guy at Outside said about my lack of participation in the journalism field, or how it seems today employers want you to give your entire identity to one specific job and hone your skills in a very narrow way.

I then went into talking about how Gen Y does not believe in the old Gen X work ethic, and that we tend to see through fake sincerity and corporate bullshit quickly.

But he didn’t buy any of it.

The unfortunate thing is that I don’t know enough about Ken to have a clear understanding of where he is coming from. What I do know is that a mutual friend who I respect greatly thinks very highly of him. Ken also has traveled the world, had a family and teaches extremely rigorous classes at the graduate level. That alone means he did something right I have to assume.

So when he gives me advice and pushes my own understanding of who I am, it forced me to work hard at consciously not getting defensive, but instead listen to his ideas, which is what this walkabout is all about. Expanding my horizons, pushing my boundaries and falling down every once and a while.

I’ll write a bit more when I have had time to think about our conversation and what I means to my own ideology, but until then, please enjoy the pics from my few days in Minnesota.




  1. Dewey
    October 9, 2007 at 5:36 pm

    The only true obstacle in life is yourself. Sure other people can tell you that you are not qualified, lack experience, or not the right fit. But that does not mean you can not do it. I find myself making excuses for myself all the time! It is frustrating to admit that.

    I would like to share a comic that hits this dead on: http://xkcd.com/137/
    So many times we get caught up in the day to day routine activities that we forget that life is not about watering our plants. It is about doing something that leads us…no forces us to excel from our current position in life.

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