February 16, 2015
Filed under Opinion
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If you’re a student at Austin High, odds are you recently attended an assembly where Kash Shaikh talked to us all about his company #BeSomebody. He delivered messages about following your wildest dreams and never giving up on the things we truly care about and supported these messages with anecdotes of how he cashed out 401(k) just to survive and went from living in a five-hundred square foot studio to getting a million dollar investment with no product. On paper, this message was powerful and moving to anybody who is hesitant to take a non-conventional career path, but when you read between the lines, things get a little questionable.
Now, the message of doing things not only for money, the message of doing things out of passion and love is beautiful. But I think the speech Kash gave to a couple thousand students is incomplete, in that it lacks several warnings. Kash Shaikh is a highly experienced University of Texas graduate who worked in marketing for massive companies like Procter & Gamble, the people who own Dawn, Old Spice, Crest, and a ton of other things, and GoPro, “the world’s fastest growing camera company”, according to Shaikh. If Kash Shaikh ever had a doubt that his dream would come true he could abandon his company and find a great job with a nice salary with few issues, I imagine. The average high school student isn’t in the same boat as him. For every Kash Shaikh, there are hundreds and hundreds of minimum wage retail workers who couldn’t find a sustainable way to practice their passions.
“Don’t have a plan B, only have a plan A” is not a flawless message, certainly not one that should be delivered to impressionable high school students.
Also, sure #BeSomebody has a feel-good message meant to inspire the youth, but at its heart, #BeSomebody is a company. Companies have a mission to make money, as much money as possible. And there’s just something inherently wrong about a company coming to a public school, wasting government resources (time that could be spent in class and money that’s paying a staff that isn’t working), to half advertise to people who have no choice about whether or not they want to hear. The whole thing is just kinda gross.
I could go on and on and roast Kash Shaikh’s career decisions, his idealized message, his company that doesn’t have a product and barely has a service or the fact that “the bridge” in his presentation didn’t actually connect to anything but I want to focus mostly on the message itself.
Most of us aren’t Kash Shaikh. We don’t have the options that he does. And while I’m am in no way saying that everybody should abandon their dreams, I think it’s important to let people know that passion alone isn’t going to get you to The Four Seasons in Mexico City.