By Ryan Velez
The first three months of Barack Obama’s life post-presidency looked like it was a great deal of well-earned fun, but many were waiting with bated breath for his first formal appearance. His 90-minute forum about community organizing and civic engagement with six young men and women at the University of Chicago leads well into his future intentions to help engage young people. Black Enterprise draws attention to some particular quotes, that, while aimed at the students, are advice that anyone at any career stage can use.
One thing that Obama didn’t have to deal with in his youth was social media, but his advice on the matter was stark and effective: “If you had pictures of everything I’d done in high school, I probably wouldn’t have been President of the United States. I would advise all of you to be a little more circumspect about your selfies and what you take pictures of.” Fighting the temptation to take that party selfie can be hard, but we live in an age where everyone’s personal brand is on display, and it can instantly be tarnished. A little restraint now can save you much aggravation later in life.
Something that people have admired and criticized about Obama is his optimism, a trait that guided his rise to the country’s highest office. In the forum, he talked about applying this to some of the tough issues of our time, from economic inequality to climate change. “All those problems are serious. They’re daunting. But they’re not insolvable.” There is something to be said for this, as being solution-focused rather than problem-focused In addition, an optimistic attitude towards life, in general, has been proven by research to lead to more proactive behavior, which tends to lead to healthier lives.
Naturally, the topic of Obama’s next moves came up, and what he shared is something we could all look to: “I’m spending a lot of time thinking about what is the most important thing I can do for my next job? And what I’m convinced of is that although there are all kinds of issues that I care about and all kinds of issues that I intend to work on, the single most important thing I can do is to help in any way I can prepare the next generation of leadership to take up the baton and to take their own crack at changing the world.” It’s easy to let success be channeled towards self-serving goals, but many can serve to follow Obama’s example and look to give back to those who are following us.