TRANSCRIPT: Ashton Kutcher’s Teen Choice Award Acceptance Speech 8/2013
“What’s up? Oh wow. Okay okay, let’s be brutally honest — this is the old guy award, this is like the grandpa award and after this I gotta go to the geriatric home.
Um, First of all, um, I don’t have a career without you guys. I don’t get to do any of the things I get to do without you. Um you know, I thought that uh, it might be interesting.. You know In Hollywood and in the industry and the stuff we do, there’s a lot of like insider secrets to keeping your career going, and a lot of insider secrets to making things tick. And I feel like a fraud.
My name is actually not even Ashton. Ashton is my middle name. My first name’s Chris. It always has been. It got changed when I was like 19 and I became an actor, but there are some really amazing things that I learned when I was Chris, and I wanted to share those things with you guys because I think it’s helped me be here today. So, it’s really 3 things. The first thing is about opportunity. The second thing is about being sexy. And the third thing is about living life.
I believe that opportunity looks a lot like hard work. When I was 13 I had my first job with my Dad carrying shingles up to the roof, and then I got a job washing dishes at a restaurant, and then I got a job in a grocery store deli, and then I got a job in a factory sweeping Cheerio dust off the ground. And I’ve never had a job in my life that I was better than. I was always just lucky to have a job, and every job I had was a stepping stone to my next job and I never quit my job until I had my next job. And so opportunities look a lot like work.
2. Being sexy.
The sexiest thing in the entire world, is being really smart. And being thoughtful. And being generous. Everything else is crap, I promise you. It’s just crap that people try to sell to you to make you feel like less, so don’t buy it. Be smart, be thoughtful, and be generous.
3. Living life.
The third thing is something that I just re-learned when I was making this movie about Steve Jobs. And Steve Jobs said when you grow up you tend to get told that the world is the way that it is, and that your life is to live your life inside the world and try not to get in too much trouble, and maybe get an education and get a job and make some money and have a family, but life can be a lot broader than that when you realize one simple thing, and that is that everything around us that we call life was made up by people who are no smarter than you, and you can build your own things, you can build your own life that other people can live in.
So build a life. Don’t live one, build one. Find your opportunities, and always be sexy. I love you guys.”
Ok, ok, OK! I’ve been trying to encourage you to get up and get yourself out there to begin, build and bloom new relationships with people that will, at least, become good friends and even better, a great connection for your next career move. I brought up the notion that your most useful connection may be one that you think is your worst and introduced to you The Strength of Weak Ties as a reference point. I have since discovered that this concept has not only proven itself effective but has gained momentum in principle and practice. I have come across a lot of different opinions and ideas about how to improve the quality of ones network thereby cultivating a more valuable cohort of contacts.
So, it seems perfectly reasonable that I continue to share. This is a good one, too, because it’s a short video with the provocative title, Forget Friends: You’re 58% More Likely to Get a Job Through Weaker Ties that discusses how a dormant tie is simply another flavor of a weak tie and equally potent. The speaker is Adam Grant, well-respected Wharton professor and author of the bestseller Give and Take, a book that looks at how human interactions affect outcomes, successful and unsuccessful. Check out what he said and let me know if I’m convincing you yet.
I have met many millennial junior, senior and post-graduate students who are so enthusiastic, capable and eager to throw themselves into the workforce. Juniors are anxious to land that summer internship and seniors and post-grads (as well as new alums) are singularly focused on finding a living-wages job. One expects that with such determination and drive our gatherings would be a lively discussion and sharing of networking experiences and ideas for developing industry mentors or employee referrals. (A recent study conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of NY reported that candidates who are referred to the hiring manager are twice as likely to get an interview — the holy grail of the job hunt — with 40% more likely to be hired over other applicants — winning!)
Instead, dead air filled the room and the enthusiasm was replaced by tentative silence. What I discovered is that most millenials think that the invitation/acceptance of connecting or friending someone on LinkedIn or Facebook is all there is to ‘networking’. There seemed to be no recognition that the very term ‘networking’ defines exchange of information, in short, communication. What I saw in the room was anxiety and puzzlement.
Networking is fundamental to the art of getting a job. The silence was ultimately replaced with a question that was, apparently, common to the group: ‘But how do you network with someone in your network?’ So, I thought I would share a post I recently stumbled upon that attempts to answer that very question. Keeping in mind that it is one person’s opinion but I think that it is worthwhile to take it in and use it to introduce some self-awareness toward your next networking opportunity. In fact, it may take the anxiety out of networking.
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So a friend and colleague sent me a link to Why are so many college students failing to gain job skills before graduation?, a post from The Washington Post higher education news blog, Grade Point. As the title not-so-subtly suggests, there is a threshold barrier to gainful employment for college seniors and, not surprisingly, recent graduates.
The post calls out the results of the Collegiate Learning Assessment Plus test. This is given to students in the first and last (senior) year to measure their gains in critical thinking, writing/communication, and analytical reasoning. The test results show that 40% of seniors fail to graduate with complex reasoning skills. Now consider this in light of The Association of American Colleges & Universities surveys of both students and employers. The purpose of the surveys are to gauge their respective opinions about graduates ‘readiness’ for the job market. The graphic below summarizes the surveys’ findings:
Apparently there is a perception problem or a misalignment between what or how schools prepare their students for entering the job market and what employers seek or need. There’s no easy answer but, I think, highlighting these findings is a strong start for positive outcomes on an individual basis.
Schools should actively and effectively encourage their students to blend together their practical and scholastic campus life experience. Students (and their parents) should stress-less on picking a major to match the job market and put greater emphasis on developing the skills to successfully live away from the reading list and a syllabus. Taking a step toward making this adjustment is way more likely to produce an employable class, writ large.
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The simple truth is in the featured bar chart on the left proves that Employers ignore almost everything on your application — except this. Max Nisen has successfully filtered all the anecdotal advice and career counseling being generously served to people seeking employment leaving them with the data derived question in my title. A ‘yes’ to the question will likely land their resume in the short pile…the pile that gets read, and an opportunity to get an interview.
Perhaps you can turn your relatives (or someone in your network), this holiday season, into a referral.