In my pool of patients I see many young adults who are frustrated, angry and confused as to why they are experiencing personal difficulties in their lives. Many of these young adults still live at home. They are not just in their early twenties; many of them are in their mid thirties. Young adults are not financially stable enough to live on their own. This phenomenon is not just limited to those young adults who are single, either. Many young couples are finding that rather than being in a position to strike out on their own, many (many!) young couples live in their parents' basements, including several who are employees in my own companies, whom I have already taught financial management principles to.
I worry for GenX and GenY because their quality of life is frustrating them. What these young couples don't know, but what I hear from my older patients, is that their parents are frustrated too. We live in times of financial duress, and if we can't figure out how to live out practical applications of the principles written into ""What's Your ROI?" then I fear things will only get worse.
I am worried because of what I see in my work as a consultant to businesses owners who are either barely surviving or else are on the verge of diving. The problems are always the same. Quality is lacking, customer service is deplorable and most employees don't want to take responsibility when something goes wrong. The work ethic amongst many young adults seems to be that they see the customers they are supposed to serve as a source of irritation rather than seeing them for what they really are - their source of income. Every person reading these words has been blown off or blown away by bad customer service, then made the consumer decision to go elsewhere, giving their business to a company where the customer service reps (often older people) seem to understand that "serving" the customer's needs isn't merely the right thing to do - it's the very purpose and function for why they have a job in the first place.
"What's Your ROI?" provides valuable insight, but not because it's profound but only because it's no longer being taught to the upcoming generations. The teachings within the pages of "What's Your ROI?" can provide invaluable insight to the upcoming generations as to how they can position themselves to be offered opportunities to advance in their careers, their relationships and their lives if they can grasp the inter-relationship between walking in integrity, with responsibility, then waiting to receive the opportunities that will follow. The principles of ROI are nothing new - they have only been mislaid, forgotten or maybe ignored. This book is merely a reminder for some, and a wake up call for others.
If you have heard about this book but have not read it and you are a parent wondering if this book will be of benefit to your teenage or young adult children, let me give you some insight before you buy the book. No author worth his or her salt (or ink? toner maybe?) wants someone to buy their book if the book is going to sit unread. Before you buy the book, let me tell you part of the driving force that led to the years of writing and research.
As a consultant, the biggest part of my work involves un-training bad interpersonal habits and mindsets, then re-training good habits. This book doesn't just identify the bad habits, it provides solutions in how to overcome them. As long as the reader has what the book's main character "Eli" calls ears to hear then this book can provide a way to be retrained in a person's thinking so as to advance in their careers as well as their relationships. There is a strong emphasis on young adults learning how to resolve interpersonal conflicts with co-workers, customers and even (especially) their own family members. If you currently have some degree of tension or stress in your relationships with your children, this book can help you resolve the problems. But be forewarned, you will just have to look in your own mirror first, before you can expect your children to look into their mirrors.
Conflict creates stress and it's stress that destroys our relationships. Friendships, marriages and even partnerships are only as healthy as the tools we use to overcome the conflicts that assault us every day in our most valued interpersonal relationships. Yet most people have never been taught any tools to overcoming stress and conflict, so "What's Your ROI?" has been written to provide those tools in the context of an engaging story that speaks to the experiences of young adults in today's workforce.
The story line in "What's Your ROI" has a business as a backdrop because business in our society are suffering. People everywhere report how they hate their work, they resent their boss, and they can't stand the malicious gossip amongst co-workers yet they participate in it just the same. All this wasted energy, emotion and effort hinders them in accomplishing their work, which only causes business to try to make up for lost productivity by cutting back worker's benefits, their salaries and often, their very jobs. When businesses suffer, the people who work there suffer all the more. It's a vicious cycle and it needs to be broken.
But the bigger picture behind the business backdrop is the barriers to synergy that cause us all to experience interpersonal stress. Stress leads to anger, apathy, depression and despondency. We spend more time at work than any other activity, including sleep. When a work environment is toxic, people get sick - physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Not the kind of life I want to see for the people in my companies, in the companies I am doing consulting work for, and not the kind of future life I want my children to have. And I'd be willing to bet it's not the kind of life you want your children to have.
There is a lack of training in human dynamics in today's workforce. The fancy word in consulting for eliminating toxicity and replacing tension with a healthy, harmonious work environment is called creating synergy. When you don't save synergy, then you are plagued with the opposite - antagonism. This is the source of stress. This is the root. If we get rid of antagonism and the associated ills called bitterness, envy, jealousy and frustration, then we create an environment where people get along - in businesses, in friendships, in families. That's what the book is about.
This generation of young adults (and by young, this could mean some adults in their forties) has not been mentored in how to count the costs of certain decisions they are making. They need to be trained in life skills so they can see how the decisions they make "today" affect their lives "tomorrow". Eli would say, "You can't get daffodils if you're planting seeds from dandelions."
Some say that young adults won't listen, especially to their parents. Although in many cases this is true, it is not the general rule. The bigger problem is, no one seems to be trying to communicate with young adults on theirlevel. It's not so much a generation gap, it's a communication gap. "What's Your ROI?" was written so that parents could use the book as a communication tool, as a catalyst to stimulate communication with their children to provide important life skills and life training that their young adult children may have never been provided. The beauty of this book is that it can open doors between fathers and mothers and their children, to re-establish communication and repair torn relationships.
Part of this book identifies the factors behind problems such as financial mismanagement, which is almost always rooted in a lack of understanding about budgeting, disposable income, interest charges from banks and credit cards, and the ultimate symptom of disease - out of control consumer spending. On the day these words were written, a major news source publishing the World Economic Summary reported that for the US economy, "Credit-card delinquencies are rising across the nation, a sign that some Americans are at the end of their rope financially. The result could be sharp pullback in consumer spending that would further weaken the US economy." With the already weakened dollar, a collapsing in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, record high world commodity pricing for basic staples such as oil, corn, wheat and rice, the sign of the times are not good. Young adults need to position themselves to survive the economic storms on the horizon.
"What's Your ROI?" is meant to be a survival kit.
Young adults are burdened with consumer debt which some will never escape from unless they declare bankruptcy. Others will be straddled with debt and clinically, we know that debt is a major source of depression, apathy and despondency and, once again, stress. Debt and financial problems alone are the biggest factors that cause divorce, and divorce brings with it a whole new set of problems. Debt and interpersonal conflict resulting from a breakdown in communication are two of the biggest factors behind personal stress which only leads to damaged relationships and despair, unless these factors can be overcome.
I want to be part of the cure, not part of the disease. I don't want debt, divorce, depression, and despondency to be part of my children's future, and neither do you. This book was written to help overcome these factors.
So as we get back to the question "Why ROI? Why Now?" the answer is simply that ROI is for such a time as this, because in our society the rules of the game have changed dramatically during the past 50 years. It's no longer a time when the future was bright and full of opportunity. It's no longer a time like the 60's and 70's when teachers would play a game of dreams and aspirations in their classrooms, asking children "Who wants to be an astronaut - raise your hand!" Or else who wants to be a doctor, a teacher, an architect, a fireman or a nurse? That was the past, when young people could dream dreams, and expect to achieve them. For such a time as this, however, the game sounds more like...
"Who wants to go bankrupt - raise your hand!"
Yet bankruptcy is the biggest story in the business section of our newspapers. Is what we want for our future? For the future of our children? Our grandchildren? What kind of legacy will we leave?
At the end of the Second World War, people had every reason to believe that they and their children were going to fulfill their dreams, because they were about to inherit a society full of opportunity. If they simply worked responsibly, acted with integrity, and took advantage of their opportunities that were before them, they could achieve the American Dream. For the first time in history, Americans do not believe that their children will have the opportunity to take hold the of American Dream and have a better life than their parents had. Only two generations after the end of the Second World War, people have every reason to believe a different dream, but it's more like a nightmare because what the next generation is about to inherit is more likely a society that is bankrupt, and in more ways than just financially.
And all because we have forgotten the wisdom that parents and grandparents used to pass on from one generation to the next. If there is no one to teach us that the "real ROI" is about how to be responsible, and act with integrity, then we will never be able to take advantage of opportunity, because there simply won't be that opportunity. Most of you do not want that kind of future, nor do you want your children or grandchildren to inherit a society with a bankrupt future that is mortgaged to the hilt.
If you want a different future for your children, and your children's children, then you need to help them unlearn old habits to relearn older habits - the habits that were the under girding foundation of our social fabric as little as only fifty years ago. The principles of ROI in this book provide a way to get back to your future, and if what you've already read from "What's Your ROI"? or even just what you have read in the last few paragraphs, speaks to where you are at in your heart and mind, then you probably would want to start right away.