Kids, Career and the Economy

Ken Silverstein | Nov 14, 2012


Last Saturday, my 14-year-old son and I were playing a round of golf. I was about to tee-off on the fifth hole when he blurted, “how much money will I get when you die?” Caught off-guard, I smiled. I reflected. I flashed back.

My grandfather and I were fishing in Lake Pontchartrain, just outside of New Orleans three decades earlier. It was silent, allowing the two of us to bond. He was drinking a Dixie beer and out of nowhere, I asked him a question similar to the one that my son had asked me. He put down his beer and bit his sandwich. He then looked me in the eye and said, “I’m not leaving you a damn thing.”

A few seconds later, he rephrased his response: “You know what I’ll leave you? I’ll leave you with a good example and a positive work ethic and with the belief that a good education can open up whatever opportunity you see fit.”

As an adolescent, those words didn’t really resonate. But they would eventually hit home. As my thoughts and emotions congealed, I gave my son the exact same answer as my grandfather did me. No, bells didn’t chime and chariots didn’t trot by. But, hopefully, my “advice” may “bloom” within him in 10 to 15 years.

For now, pictures can speak a thousand words. He can look all around and model himself after those whom he admires. It’s about working hard and playing by the rules. And if you choose a profession that you love and one that is in growth mode, you can be both happy and prosperous.

Today, those twin goals are challenging. Like almost all other segments of the economy, media outlets are undergoing vast changes. Yes, the need will always exist for those who gather the information and present it to a wider audience. But the means by which it will be delivered in a profitable way is uncertain. The evolution from a print to a digital format is fomenting anxiety but at the same time, it is a rare chance to get in on journalism’s next wave.

Thankfully, I’ve been fortunate. I was able to cross the wake from print into digital more than a decade ago. And it has paid off in every respect. In the past year, EnergyBiz Insider has won two national “best online column” awards and most recently, Media Industry News has recognized us for our contributions to digital or online journalism.
2012 will soon end. And with each yearly change, it becomes a time of reflection: Where have we been and what it is that we hope to accomplish. On behalf of Energy Central, I want to wish all of readers and all of our sponsors the happiest and healthiest of holiday seasons, and true success in the next year. We deeply appreciate your loyalty and it is my absolute pleasure to be your “host.”

I want to give a special thank you to those exceptionally talented writers and analysts at Energy Central who give so much and who occasionally fill in for me: Wayne Barber, Barry Cassell, Bill Opalka, who represent GenerationHub and Rosy Lum, Carl Dombek and Corina Rivera-Linares, who represent TransmissionHub. You will be seeing more of their bylines as I take a partial breather in December.

I also want to express my gratitude to those organizations that have included me as a speaker and as their guest. And I want to publicly thank the American Society of Business Press Editors and Media Industry News for their efforts and for their recognition of Energy Central’s body of work.

My own good fortune is attributable to working for publishers who believe in me as well as writing for an audience that is highly intelligent and that is gracious enough to help me improve. I love what I do. I work hard. And it is paying dividends at a time when the economy is in a state of flux. Times and technologies are rapidly changing, forcing us all to apply our knowledge and our ambition so that we can continually adapt.

It is this message that I want to leave not just my own children but also yours, and all of those who will read this annual Thanksgiving column.

Ken Silverstein

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The kids are alright!

Thanks for the kind words! Kids -- this generation is beyond repair -- much as they have been since the days of Socrates and Plato .... As for Jeanne, go ahead and embellish!

Ken S

"The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers."

Socrates (469 BC to 399 BC)

Source: Attributed to SOCRATES by Plato, according to William L. Patty and Louise S. Johnson, Personality and Adjustment, p. 277 .This passage was very popular in the 1960s and its essence was used by the Mayor of Amsterdam, Gijsbert van Hall, following a street demonstration in 1966, as reported by The New York Times, April 3, 1966, p. 16.This use prompted Malcolm S. Forbes to write an editorial on youth.Forbes, April 15, 1966, p. 11. In that same issue, under the heading Side Lines, pp. 56, is a summary of the efforts of researchers and scholars to confirm the wording of Socrates, or Plato, but without success. Evidently, the quotation is spurious. · This quote is about uncategorised · Search on Google Books to find all references and sources for this quotation.


Hi Ken:

I was absolutely struck by your very thoughtful article.  It speaks to our relationships with our children, how they view the world and their values.  And it also touched on fundamental changes in society brought about by the digital age.

While your grandfather's answer was, I believe, the right one, it is still a tough question.

The core value of hard work, and hopefully being rewarded for it, was also well presented in your article, but this too raises some serious questions, especially for journalists.  As I am sure you are very aware, the digital age has created a sense of entitlement in a generation that has become conditioned to copying everything and anything at will without any thought of fairly compensating the creators of creative/intellectual content.  Respect for intellectual property has been severely compromised and it must certainly bring into question how to maintain a viable business model in journalism.

Thanks so much for your thought-provoking article.

Best regards,

Andy Hoffer
Toronto, Ontario

Words and Reflections

Ken:   way to go---great words and reflections---sent on to my Grandkids (4) with the same underlying message.

May the future full of mist in the economy clear for all our sakes.

Best regards

Thomas S Drolet

you'll be quoted on this one!

Great column, Ken.  Who among your readers can't relate to that question from your son? Your  gradfather's response to you and your response to your son is likely to be quoted by many -- probably even plagiarized! Good advice is like wine and cheese -- it improves as it ages.

Best wishes.

Jeanne LaBella

Excellent reminder

The opening of your article reminded me that my most valuable bequeath to my heirs is a lesson of good citizenship through a sense of work ethic, fairness and understanding the impact we have on others.  Thanks for writing this.

Happy Thanksgiving you and your family as well. Enjoy your "downtime".