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What I learned from speaking to 600 freshman high school students

November 12, 2008 | by brett | Permalink

Today I arrived at Fairfax High School in Laveen, Arizona and delivered a Pursue the Passion keynote speech to 100 freshman high school students in the theater. And then I did the same speech again for six different periods, with a total of twenty-four different classes in attendance.

There were some things I observed during the course of my presentation as freshman filtered in and out to hear me talk about Pursue the Passion. I want to share the five top things I’ve learned about this mysterious, hard to reach age group of 14 and 15 year olds.

I hope this list entertains you, or at least helps you if you ever have to deliver a speech to freshman.

1. Freshman are clueless, yet, they think they know it all.

Without having any work experience, or really any applicable experience at all, freshman have a blind fearlessness about them that makes them think they can be a CEO right after high school. I had some freshman raise their hand when asked if they thought they could be a CEO in four years. Then one freshman who was raising their hand asked me what a CEO was.

2. Freshman are some of the most sexually charged people I’ve ever come across.

Since today was Wednesday, I asked the students what ‘Wednesday’ is commonly referred to as in working America. The answer, I said, ‘is Hump Day.’ This ‘hump day’ comment struck the freshman as wildly funny. All momentum the presentation had was halted as girls whispered in ears of their neighbor and the boys hooted and exchanged high fives. All because of ‘hump day.’

Yeah, you should have seen them when I mentioned I interviewed a Playboy photographer. I almost lost them.

3. Freshman think Facebook is for old people.

Yeah. It’s true. I asked the audience how many people had a facebook account, and I just about lost whatever ‘hip’ credibility I could have pulled off in front of an audience I was a decade older than. A few blurted out that you’re old if you’re on Facebook. Remember when Facebook was just for college kids? Ah, those were the days.

The mentioning of Myspace on the other hand quickly allowed me to regain their trust.

4. Freshman are like baby fainting goats.

Adult fainting goats are goats that are paralyzed for two to three seconds when they become fearful. They get a boost of adrenaline and they faint. Sometimes they fall down. It’s very comedic.

The baby fainting goats on the other hand do not faint. That’s because they never have fear, therefore, they never have the boost of adrenaline that paralyzes them.

At one point I offered anyone in the audience a job that paid $10 an hour if they could convince me to give them a job. Just about the whole audience raised their hand and screamed for me to call on them. If I were to make the same offer at a Jobing.com Career Expo to adult job seekers, I bet you I’d have to drag someone out on the floor.

That’s because adults are fearful, and freshman are not. They’re like baby fainting goats.

5. Freshman, if they had to make a priority list of what they wanted in a job, would list it like this: Money, Money, Money.

At the end of every one of the six presentations I made today, I had a short Question & Answer session. In four out of the six presentations, the first question that was asked was, ‘How much money do you make?’

This was after I spent a good five minutes telling them to go for experience and to pursue their interests instead of going out to get a job just for money. And this was also after I touched on how ridiculous 50 Cent’s song, ‘Get Money,’ really was when applied to life.

My response to the question elicited an eye roll every time: ‘If my salary were slashed in half, I’d still do this because I love what I do. That’s the point of this presentation. If you love what you do, it’s worth more than any salary could pay you. I wouldn’t go back to my accounting job if they paid me a million dollars.’

Brett Farmiloe feels really old after writing this post. But, educators seem to think that freshman still love the Pursue the Passion presentations. To bring Pursue the Passion to your school, contact Brett at brett@pursuethepassion.com. Cheers.

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