Tuesday, June 9, 2015

High School Graduation Speech

On June 18, I'm speaking with 50+ high school juniors and seniors at the 2015 Summer Leadership Academy at Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA.  Here's what I would say to them if I were their teacher:

Your Graduation Inspires Me

Good morning teachers, staff, students, friends, and family members.  And to the graduates:

Every one of you is special.
Every one of you is a productive member of society.
Every one of you is what inspires ME - because…
Every one of you has a story to tell.
I just wish I had the time to hear every one of them, and to be there as your career paths unfold.

You have already accomplished a huge milestone on that journey.  The biggest step though was just showing up.  That’s it.  The secret most people don’t get until it’s too late.  Just showing up as young freshmen was a threshold event.  Trying something which may be hard for the first time.  Experiencing new things, even if it’s unknown whether the objective is attainable.

To me, the greatest barriers to success, however you define that, are a fear of the unknown, a fear of change, and a fear of failure.  But you need a game plan, and hopefully you can lean a little on what you learned in school to figure out that route.  No matter what you do in life, you always will have your education.

I hope you made some lifelong friends here.  Frankly, I learned more about life from my peers than from my teachers.  And I hope you got more than knowledge from your teachers because you can get that from a book.  I’m hoping you gained insight on whatever subject, and then stamped your own original perspective on how to resolve issues and solve problems.

Many times the things you do won’t work.  And you will fail at some things you try.  That’s just a fact of life.  Abraham Lincoln once said:  “My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.” 

And you will make mistakes.  A lot of them!  Both in your careers and your lives.  That’s just another fact of life.  But that’s okay.  The trick is figuring out how to deal with setbacks.  Your family and friends will always be there for you.  And your education will continually serve as a foundation to get you back on track.

Franklin D. Roosevelt said: “We are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of our own minds.”  Graduates, each of you must unlock your mind and blaze a path built on reason and purpose.  Life is too short to spend it bouncing around like a random and aimless ball in a game of Pong.  And whether you are 18, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, or 80 years young, it is never too late to test the boundaries of your dreams. 

Finally, I want all of you gathered in front of me to please lose the title of “former” student, because you will be my students for many years to come.  And I expect in return that I can become your student, as I learn about your college experience, professional successes, trials, and tribulations.

Every one of you is special.
Every one of you is a productive member of society.
Every one of you is what inspires me – because...
Every one of you has a story to tell.

What will your next journey be?

c 2009-2015 Perry Binder, LLC

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Five Ways to Ace College Exams for High School Graduates

My Tips for the Entering College Class of 2019:

Five Ways to Ace College Exams
c 2010-2015 Perry Binder (first printed in The Huffington Post)
Wouldn't it be great if college classes were pass/fail, and students could focus on learning rather than competing for grades? Let's get back to the real world for a second, as I propose what I would do as a student to prepare for college exams:
1- Ask your professors to give practice quizzes. Each semester is a feeling out process for students to figure out what types of exams a professor gives. Practice quizzes, with no attached grade, can relieve stress and reveal a lot about upcoming exams. I give a ten question practice quiz prior to the first and second tests so students can see my style and tricks. While my exams are "closed book," I give students the option of taking the practices quizzes with or without notes, with the belief that students haven't fully studied at this point. After the quiz, we go over the answers together.
2- On essay exams, ask your professor if you can write answers in an outline format. It is a difficult task for professors to write objective essay exam questions. Except on open-ended questions, they are usually looking for some specific responses. Why make that professor search all throughout your flowery paragraphs for those answers? Organize responses in an outline form and underline key terms. This method will make grading faster for the professor, and thus you have a happier grader.
3- Prepare flashcards for straightforward multiple choice exam questions. Make a flashcard for each term or concept discussed in class. Put the term on the front, with a definition and example applying the term on the back. For example: the legal term, Duty to Trespassers goes on the front of an index card. On the back: In general, homeowners may be liable for creating dangerous instrumentalities on the property. E.g., Jane surrounds her home with a mote filled with water and alligators to make sure Tom stays off that freshly cut lawn. Make sure to study the flashcards in reverse. (look at the back of the card to see if you can identify the term on the front) Sample easy exam question:
Harold's home was broken into three times this year. So he dug a huge hole on his lawn near the window that robbers seek entry. Then he placed a bear trap at the bottom of the hole and cleverly covered it with small branches and leaves. One night while sneaking up to Harold's window, Tim the Robber fell in, got caught in the bear trap, and was seriously injured. The next morning, Harold went out for the newspaper and to see what he'd caught. Tim screamed: "My leg. I'm hurt!" In Tim's lawsuit for injuries, Harold will likely:
a. win because Tim was a trespasser and landowners owe no duty to trespassers. 
b. lose because landowners owe a duty to keep the premises free from unreasonable dangers they create for trespassers.
I know which answer you'd like to pick. Choose the other one for exam purposes.
4- For "application" multiple choice questions, talk the material out with a study friend. A well written college exam will make you go beyond the mere memorization of material. Another sample exam question:
This morning on the way to our exam, Marcel purchased coffee at the drive-through window of a local burger establishment. With the car stopped, he placed the cup between his knees and opened the lid to add cream. Accidentally, he knocked the contents of the cup onto his lap, and hot coffee soaked through his sweat pants. He screamed: "Help me, I'm burning, and I've got a
test in 20 minutes!" After completing his exam, Marcel headed straight to the hospital, where doctors treated his third degree burns. He then sued the burger joint for failing to warn him that extremely hot coffee can rip through flesh. A jury awarded Marcel $100,000 in damages, but also found him to be 75% responsible and the defendant 25% responsible for the accident. How much money would Marcel be permitted to recover if the defendant does not appeal this verdict?
a. $100,000 
b. $75,000 
c. $25,000 
d. $0
If you chose letter "c," then you understand the legal concept of comparative negligence. In most states, a plaintiff's award is reduced by the percentage of fault assigned by the jury for an accident. However, in my state, if a plaintiff is found to be 50% or more responsible, then that plaintiff would recover nothing from the $100,000 verdict. Thus, the correct response would be letter "d."
5- On take-home exams or term papers, your computer's Spell Check is not the same as proofreading. True story: In a legal document, an attorney asked the judge for a delay in his case because he was undergoing a delicate medical procedure on his back: Disk surgery. However, he mistakenly typed a different four letter word that looked like DISK, inserting an unfortunate "C" rather than the needed "S." Spell check didn't pick up the error, since the word was spelled correctly. The take-away: Please proof your take-home exams and papers!
Pace yourself on game day. Flip through the exam before starting, to see what you've gotten yourself into. But before taking that test, try to get on the same page with your professor, because s/he really wants you to succeed.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Amazon's Best High School Graduation Gift Books

This is a list I complied a few years back...

Click here: High School Graduation Gift Books


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

10 Tips for Picking a Career Path in College

In the sage words of Yogi Berra, "if you don't know where you're going, you'll be lost when you get there." Picking a career path boils down to a cost benefit analysis and a gut check. It is a game of reality versus passion, and you can start blazing a meaningful path in college.
But hopefully you can appreciate that every career has an arc, and you are at the beginning of the curve. Don't be surprised if your career direction changes significantly a few times before and after you reach the peak.
With that message in mind, here are my 10 tips for picking a career path in college:
1. Don't let anyone crush your dreams.  However, the riskier your dream, the better your backup plan must be.

2. There is a huge difference between a childhood dream and a dream job. If you dreamed of being a lawyer since the age of twelve, you better make sure you know exactly what attorneys do on a given twelve hour work day. Did You Know: In a survey of 800 attorneys, only 55 percent reported being satisfied with their career.

3. Make sure your dream job is not an avocation (a hobby). An avocation is a vacation from a vocation, because the pay ranges from little to nothing.
4. No matter what your part-time jobs or summer jobs are, always be thinking about how those experiences will enhance your resume and work skills.
5. The most important thing for deciding on a major or career path is to get out of the classroom and into an internship which exposes you to the day-to-day ups and downs of that profession. "Learning by doing" will give you a better appreciation of the job than learning through textbooks.
6. Do what you love but don't let your career choices jeopardize anyone you love. Including yourself. Translation: Take care of others but don't forget to take care of yourself, sometimes before others. Listen to our airline flight attendants: "Put your own oxygen mask on first before assisting others with their masks."
7. Determine whether you are driven to be your own boss or if you crave the stability of a steady paycheck. Assess your personality traits and the risks inherent with both paths. (e.g., the risk of putting up your own money as your own boss versus the risk of losing a job in a company you work for) Did You Know: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists occupations with the largest job growth projected through the year 2018, starting with registered nurse.
8. Rather than casually asking career advice from parents or other relatives, set up a time to interview them, with prepared general and specific questions. This approach will make them think more thoughtfully about their responses, and may reveal their personal career challenges and triumphs.
9. Don't rely on luck or fate in your career. Professional success is about putting yourself in a position to create numerous opportunities.
10. Over the course of your lifetime, there may only be a handful of impactful career opportunities. Assemble an inner circle team of advisors now, so you'll be able to act quickly to objectively assess the pluses and minuses of future opportunities.
And finally, clean up your social media presence online! What's publicly available might not bode well for your future employment. Did You Know: In 2011, the Federal Trade Commission approved the practice of employers conducting social media background checks going back seven years for job applicants.
10 Tips for Picking a Career Path in College
c 2013 Perry Binder, The Huffington Post College section
(Excerpt from 99 Motivators for College Success)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Jesse Friedman's Case and the Appearance of Impropriety

This is the third article I've written in The Huffington Post about the Friedman case:

The Friedman case continues to be defined by delay.  Two years after I posed the question, Is Actual Innocence “Capturing the Friedmans”?, the frustrating answer is: We still don’t know.  Below is a tangled story of: evidence withheld by the Nassau County District Attorney’s office from its own case advisory panel; a panelist’s subsequent modification of the panel’s original recommendations; a defamation lawsuit filed by the defense against the DA’s office; the recent election of DA Kathleen Rice to U.S. Congress; and a judge set to hear Friedman’s case, though she worked as an Assistant DA with DA Rice for years.

In the above 2012 article, I summarized the case background:

On November 25, 1987, I was sprawled out on my parents' couch, when my favorite high school teacher appeared on the TV news.  Arnold Friedman was a retired NYC instructor who taught computer classes in his home for local kids.  I watched as he and his 17-year old son, Jesse, were handcuffed and hauled away for horrific child molestation crimes occurring in their basement.  I fell off that couch in disbelief.  Arnold and Jesse Friedman each pled guilty to avoid a trial, and Jesse learned of his father's prison suicide in 1995.  Since his release in 2001, Jesse has attempted to clear his name, so he no longer must register as a Level 3 violent sexual predator. In 2003, new facts about his case emerged in the Oscar-nominated documentary, Capturing the Friedmans, which examined the evidence against the Friedmans and questioned whether any of the allegations against them were truthful.  On August 16, 2010, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit found "a reasonable likelihood that Jesse Friedman was wrongfully convicted" and that "the police, prosecutors and the [trial] judge did everything they could to coerce a guilty plea and avoid a trial."  That November, the Nassau County District Attorney appointed a panel of four experts to review the evidence against Jesse. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Five Ways to Ace College Exams

I published this piece in The Huffington Post College Section:
Wouldn't it be great if college classes were pass/fail, and students could focus on learning rather than competing for grades? Let's get back to the real world for a second, as I propose what I would do as a student to prepare for college exams...
Click: Five Ways to Ace College Exams
The Huffington Post College Section
c 2010-2015 Perry Binder
Click: 99 Motivators for College Success book in paperback/Kindle 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

How Do You Spot An Outstanding Teacher?

Wise words from Georgia State University College of Education professors
Click here

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Never crush anyone’s career dreams

Dr. J at the James L. Knight Center in Miami, before an exhibition game to attract an NBA team

Don’t let anyone crush your dreams.  However, the riskier your dream, the better your backup plan must be.

Never crush anyone’s dreams.
When I was a little kid, I dreamed about playing professional basketball.  In third grade, we had to write an essay on what we wanted to be when we grew up.  I wrote that I wanted to be 6’10” and play in Madison Square Garden.  When the teacher handed back my paper, she laughed out loud and said: “You can’t do that!”
That was the first time someone had crushed my professional dream.  The teacher may have been right about the 6’10” part, but this molder of young minds lacked the understanding of what negative reinforcement can do to little kids.  She also lacked the understanding that height isn’t everything for a basketball player.  Teachers, especially in the impressionable K-12 years, are my personal heroes.  Yet they need to be dream builders, not dream destroyers.  It’s healthy to discuss rational backup career plans, but why spoil youthful exuberance which could flower into the unexpected?
            Postscript:  When I was 25 years old, I met the great Dr. J and got to play one-on-one with 7’4” center Mark Eaton of the Utah Jazz, that year’s NBA Defensive Player of the Year.  I’ll leave the game results to your active imagination.
This story is the basis for Motivator #4

Monday, March 31, 2014

NEW: Pinterest & 99 Motivators

Everyone - Please take a moment and visit my Pinterest board, forward to others, and pin an item (if you use Pinterest). 


Perry Binder, J.D.
Author: 99 Motivators for College Success

Saturday, February 15, 2014

From the Dorm to Lake Placid to Sochi

This article appears in The Huffington Post:

I like your hat, Bill offered mischievously to the middle-aged Russian man.
The man kept walking with a deliberate gait.
Trade you my Vikings football cap, Bill tries, with the tact of a paparazzo in the Olympic Village.
The Russian gentleman stopped and looked at Bill. Then at me, wrapped in a parka the size of the Hindenburg.
Nyet, the man delivered stoic faced, as he disappeared amidst the snow flurries.
This was the beginning of my trip to Lake Placid. It was a safe bet that Bill and I were not destined to be good will ambassadors for these Games.
We left for Lake Placid from our Binghamton University dormitory at 2:00 a.m., to a mock chorus of God Bless America from the less than enlightened frat boys. About forty pioneers boarded a charter bus for the one day, 14-hour roundtrip journey from Vestal, New York. As we pulled away from campus, my thoughts wandered back to Franz Klammer's downhill run in 1976 at Innsbruck, and to the ice-cold keg of beer in the back of bus -- courtesy of those more than enlightened frat boys.
Headline - Monday, February 18, 1980 - Bus waits may last throughout Games
For the sixth day in a row, spectators were forced to wait for more than an hour-and-a-half at some venues sites.
Headline - Many treated for frostbite
(UPI) A bitter wind from the Northwest ... plunged the 'chill factor' to minus 40 (F and C).
When the bus arrived at 9:00a.m., the first thing I wanted to do was see the Olympic torch and get in touch with all the good that it represents. The silver cauldron was perched about 100 feet above the snowdrifts. The base of the structure was a very unassuming platform from which the torch was first lit. After the lighting, the cauldron traveled up to its resting place along a track supported by two thin white beams, one on each side of the track. Access to the torch was permitted, as Bill took a picture of me on the platform. I posed with both arms raised in victory celebration form.