I Need to Tell You Something: Life Lessons from a father for his teenage children

I Need to Tell You Something: Life Lessons from a father for his teenage children

by Bill Franks


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I Need to Tell You Something: Life Lessons from a father for his teenage children by Bill Franks

It started as a request from Bill Franks’ financial advisor to create a “Statement of Values” letter that he could share with his then-young children. If something happened and he wasn’t around to raise them, what were some of the core values he would like to impart on them once they were old enough to understand?

As Bill began laying out his thoughts, he realized that he had a lot more to say than would fit in a letter. He also realized that many other families might benefit from the same advice he was providing. What started as life lessons he wanted to share just with his children, quickly became an opportunity for other families to discuss and learn together. Written not from the perspective of an expert, but from that of a father giving guidance to his own teens, the book comes at the issues from a different perspective than many others.

This guidebook, written with teens as the intended audience, presents a great foundation for adults to think about and be intentional about sharing their own ethics and principles. With clear examples, timely teen issues, and ‘taking action’ elements with each chapter, it provides many opportunities for parents to begin or continue important conversations with their children. In chapters where parents disagree with Bill’s view, the book still provides a starting point to explain to their children how their views differ.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780998886107
Publisher: Fields Pond Publishing, LLC
Publication date: 09/25/2017
Pages: 234
Product dimensions: 8.20(w) x 5.50(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Bill Franks is the Chief Analytics Officer at the International Institute for Analytics (IIA). In this role, he helps guide IIA's global community of analytics practitioners in determining the best strategy for their particular analytics needs. He provides perspective on trends in analytics and big data, and helps clients understand how IIA can support their efforts to improve analytic performance.

Bill serves on the advisory boards of multiple university and professional analytics programs and has previously held a range of executive positions in analytics, including several years as Chief Analytics Officer for Teradata. He is also an active speaker and has presented at dozens of events over the past few years.

Bill's previous books include Taming The Big Data Tidal Wave (John Wiley & Sons) where he applied two decades of experience working with clients on large-scale analytics initiatives to outline what it takes to succeed in today's world of big data and analytics. His second book, The Analytics Revolution (John Wiley & Sons), lays out how to move beyond using analytics to find important insights in data (large and small) and into operationalizing those insights at scale to truly impact a business. His blog, Analytics Matters, addresses the transformation required to make analytics a core component of business decisions.

I Need To Tell You Something: Life lessons from a father for his teenage children was written from Bill's perspective as a businessman and a parent. As a father, he is also a leader, advisor, and teacher. His passion for both roles brings him to share life lessons not only with his own children, but with other families as well.

Read an Excerpt


Respect Versus Popularity

There is a critical distinction that should be made between respect and popularity. Not everyone realizes the importance of it. It also isn't something that is easy to focus on when you are growing up and there are pressures all around you to be "cool" and "popular." I was lucky that I wasn't led too astray by failing to recognize this distinction before I did.

Respect and popularity are not mutually exclusive. However, they are not totally intertwined either. More often than not, people are rated much higher on one of the scales than the other. If you can manage to be popular while remaining true to yourself and have people's respect, that is a great place to be. However, you really need to think through which of the two is more important to you and which will lead you further in life. Then, you should focus on pursuing that path in earnest. I certainly hope you'll choose respect over popularity.

You may wonder how I can say the two aren't the same. You might think that the most popular kids have the most respect, but take a close look around and think about it. Are the most popular kids the same ones that people are willing to trust with a large responsibility? Are the most popular kids the ones you would have confidence in to keep a deep secret you reveal to them? Are the most popular kids the ones people want on their team when academic prowess or teamwork is required? Of course there are cases where the answer is "yes". However, in many more cases, the answer will be a very clear "no."

While there are some lucky people with the combination of both popularity and respect, many popular people really aren't that well respected. Sure, people think they are cool and, of course, kids have a natural tendency to want to hang out and be seen with popular people. However, if your life depended on who you chose to be with, would you pick a popular set of teammates, or would you pick teammates you respected and trusted? I believe that most people would go with the latter. If you think about it, I'll bet you do, too.

I knew a lot of people in high school, college, and throughout my career who everyone loved to hang out with. Everybody knew those people were fun and that you could have a great time if you hung out with them for an evening. However, many of those fun people weren't the "go to" people that would be approached when someone really needed something critical done and done right the first time. Many people are great to have around, but they aren't the people to depend upon when times get tough.

I knew others who were the "go to" people. Maybe they weren't as much fun or as good looking, but everyone knew they could be counted on, they had what it took to succeed, and they would do the right thing. Those people had the respect of others even if they weren't the most popular.

The older you get, the more you'll see popularity as being less important and respect being more important. Over time, people realize that popularity doesn't get the job done, pay the bills, or provide dependability. When you respect someone, however, you can expect to get those things. When I was in junior high, it was possible to be a complete loser in many ways, but if you were officially popular, that's all that mattered. By the time I graduated from high school, there seemed to be more of a balance. Popularity was still overrated, but respectability had crept up to be an important factor, too. As I advance in life, popularity is simply a nice trait to add onto respect. Respect is what people want another person to have. Without the respect of others, you probably won't get far in life.

As you grow up, please focus on being someone who earns respect based on your character, actions, and talents. Popularity, or at least enough popularity to let you get by in life, will likely follow.

A Few Examples from My Past

There were a few times in my life where the distinction between respect and popularity really hit home with me. Growing up, I had a friend that was always great fun. He was always willing to do what it took to make sure people enjoyed themselves when he was around. I greatly enjoyed his company and we had a lot of good times together.

However, this same friend wasn't very dependable. He was often late for things. He would commit to doing something and would either not do it at all, or not do it very well. He frequently did things that crossed the line from silly and entertaining to stupid and reckless. I considered him a very good friend for many years. However, I realized over time that I really didn't have as much respect for him as I did for many of my other friends. I liked him (and still do), but I couldn't depend on him (and still can't). I was happy to meet up to go out for an evening of fun, but I didn't want to depend on him for anything important. I don't say that to be harsh or negative; it is just the simple truth.

At the same time, there were people who I didn't get along with as well. I liked them enough to tolerate them and even be somewhat friendly, but I knew I could count on them to come through. If there was a school project, I wanted them on my team. If I was in a bind and needed something, they were the ones I could call. As I grew up, I began to realize that some of those people were better friends than I had originally thought.

I had some similar experiences in college. I knew many people who were popular and who I liked, but who I had little respect for. There were guys, especially in my fraternity, who were wild, crazy, and fun, but they treated their girlfriends poorly, they didn't take school seriously, and they couldn't be counted on to come through on commitments on a regular basis. I had a great time partying with them, but I never really counted many of them as true friends.

Some of my true friends weren't all that popular, but I respected them and others did as well. I trusted them and I could count on them. I realized that I would much rather be the respected person who isn't too cool than the cool person who isn't well respected.

One time, when I was in my mid-twenties, I ran into someone from my high school soccer team. We had always been friendly and I wouldn't have expected either of us to say anything bad about each other, but we hadn't been overly close either. As we talked, he made a comment that has stuck with me ever since. He said something to the effect of, "Bill, you know I always had tremendous respect for you. I know a lot of the other guys did, too. Thanks a lot for helping me out with my math questions and for shooting straight with me in general. I know you'll be a success."

I did not realize until that moment what a great compliment such a statement could be. It surprised me because I had no idea that this person had such a positive view of me. I wasn't the most popular guy on the team, but I had earned his respect. I think that may be the moment where the difference between popularity and respect really hit home. I decided to put the pursuit of respect over the pursuit of popularity from then on.

In part due to that day, I have always focused on doing and saying what I think is right and not doing or saying something because it will be more popular. Ironically, I think I have become more popular as a result, even as I have garnered more respect. I believe people beyond a very early age truly prefer to associate with someone they can trust and respect. Once you trust and respect someone, it is easy to find things to like about them and for them to become a member of your personal "popular" list.

I don't want you to pursue the wrong goal and set yourself back before you realize your error. When you're young, being popular can seem so very important, but don't blindly pursue popularity to the point where you compromise your ability to earn the respect of others. Always put earning respect over being popular. Following that policy may just lead you to more of both.

Taking Action

• Have you been more focused on popularity or respect? Why?

• Do you know people who have a high level of either popularity or respect, but not both? If you were in a bind, which of the two types of people would you want beside you?

• Think about the actions and traits that have led you to respect others. How you can be more diligent in mimicking those actions and more focused on developing those traits in yourself?

• Do you have friends that you associate with mainly due to their popularity? It's ok to have a few friends you don't deeply respect, but have fun with. Having too many will make it harder to keep your focus on the right behaviors and attitudes. Make adjustments to your mix of friends if needed.


You Can't Control Everything

If genetics work as usual and my children end up anything like me, they're each going to be a bit of a control freak. I've always liked to control things as much as possible, and have caused myself a lot of stress over the years by trying to keep control of everything. I think it's tied to my analytical nature. However, it really isn't possible to control most things fully. It is also a fact that you may think you are in control of many situations, but you really aren't.

Shortly after my mom died suddenly, I was speaking with the minister of our church. He said something that had an enormous impact on me. He said, "Control is an illusion." I thought about that and realized he was right. Neither my mom nor I could do anything about what happened to her and we couldn't have changed it no matter how hard we tried. We had all sorts of plans for what we'd be doing and we thought we had control of our lives. We didn't.

Even things that seem fully in control can veer totally out of control very quickly through no fault or action of your own. Just think of all the freak accidents that kill people or change their lives every day. The control we appear to maintain is truly an illusion most of the time. We are just lucky that in many cases, things go the way we try to guide them. When nothing horribly unusual happens to knock things off course, we mistakenly credit ourselves for success in controlling things.

Consider all the natural disasters that occur around the world on a regular basis. You can save, plan, and do everything else right to have a nice life, but if a tornado blows through town, you might lose your house, become disabled, and possibly lose loved ones. You really don't have control. This is also true with man-made disasters like war. Throughout history, many people have lost everything they own in the blink of an eye due to unforeseen aggression at the hands of others. War breaks out and suddenly all the plans and hard work that people have put into their lives become instantly worthless.

I admit that I am not the best person to be writing on this topic. I still can't stop myself from trying to assert control over my life and the things around me. While I know logically that it won't always work, I can't stop trying to make it work as best as I can. I don't think it's a bad thing to be diligent and take reasonable actions and precautions to influence things your way. After all, if you don't even try to keep control, you certainly won't use the little influence that you do have the ability to exert. Just don't overdo it. I have often overdone it in my life. In retrospect, I could have had a lot more fun and been a lot more relaxed if I had just let some things go and acknowledged that I really couldn't control them. I should have accepted things as they were and moved on.

An interesting pattern I have recognized over time is that I develop a "grand plan" for exactly how I want something to play out. It might involve my career, moving to a new house, or even dating someone. Invariably, my plan ends up not happening as I had diligently planned and originally expected. However, things usually work out fine, if not very well. I have been sure a certain job was going to work out and it didn't. However, a different job that was unexpected and even better did work out. Had I not pursued the first job, the second may not have happened either.

In this way, my planning helped guide me to a better place. However, it wasn't that I was controlling everything, as much as it was that I put myself into a situation where something positive was able to happen. It was entering a process with an unknown outcome that really made the difference, not my specific plan. Throughout your life, you have to put yourself into positions where good things can happen and great opportunities can present themselves to you. Then, act and take advantage before the opportunity passes. Just don't fool yourself into thinking you are fully in control of the process.

Over time, I have started to become happy when I am sure something is heading in a specific direction. The reason is that I now know that I am almost certainly wrong, based on my history of things never going according to my plan. However, my experience tells me that things are far enough along when I get a feeling of certainty that a resolution is close. It simply won't be the resolution I am expecting!

I now enjoy the mystery and anticipation of seeing how things will actually work as opposed to the grand plan I put in place. I've realized that I don't control everything and have come to terms with it much better than when I was younger. I still have a lot of work to do as of this writing, but I hope you will be able to move through the process faster than I did by recognizing your lack of control and trying to adjust your approach to life earlier.

A Few Examples from My Past

An example of how one of my plans went all wrong was when I was deciding to get married. My girlfriend and I had been dating a while and I thought I should marry her, but I needed to be "sure." I had to find a way to prove that getting married to her was the right decision. I am sure as you read this, the whole idea sounds ridiculous, but I was truly very serious about "proving" I should marry my girlfriend in a concrete way. After all, how could I have control over my plan for life if I couldn't validate a decision this important?

What was my grand plan, you may be wondering. I had my girlfriend come to the beach for a week of vacation with my parents, my sister, and my brother-in-law. My plan was that by the end of the week, I'd have it all figured out and I'd be able to prove that I should or shouldn't ask her to marry me. I would assess how things were going for the two of us and how she was fitting into the family. I was incredibly stressed going into the vacation with all the pressure of the big decision resting on my head. I told my family about my plan and they all thought I was an idiot (I can't argue with that assessment), but I was certain that I could figure it all out with a concentrated effort that week. Naturally, my girlfriend had no idea of my plan and the pressure she was under!

How did it play out? Well, obviously I married her, but not because of that week in the way I had planned. At the end of the week, I still hadn't been able to prove it was the right decision. I couldn't believe it! I had laid out a perfect plan to lead to the decision and I was so disappointed in my lack of certainty. After all of my efforts, how was it possible that I was still unsure? Did the lack of finality mean that it was the wrong decision?

Then an interesting thing happened. I started to realize that I actually didn't feel a need to prove I should get married as much as I had thought I did. Marrying my girlfriend seemed like the right thing to do and I actually felt like I simply needed to go with my gut. Now, this was a totally unconventional approach for me. I never make big decisions based purely on my gut and instinct. What brought me around to going for it was the fact that even in the absence of a way to prove I should marry my girlfriend, I still wanted to do it. The level of comfort I had, going against my nature in such a big decision, led me to the conclusion that I should do it. While it wasn't proof, I decided that anyone who could make me feel that proof wasn't necessary must be the right one to marry.


Excerpted from "I Need To Tell You Something"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Bill Franks.
Excerpted by permission of Fields Pond Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Note from the Author,
Part One | Maintaining Perspective,
Chapter 1: Respect Versus Popularity,
Chapter 2: You Can't Control Everything,
Chapter 3: Money Isn't Everything,
Chapter 4: Be Thankful for What You Have,
Chapter 5: Neither Flaunt Nor Hide Your Talents,
Chapter 6: Respect Those Who Serve You,
Chapter 7: Ask and You Shall Receive,
Part Two | Making Good Decisions,
Chapter 8: Honesty and Integrity,
Chapter 9: Taking Responsibility,
Chapter 10: Keeping Your Word,
Chapter 11: Think About How Your Actions Would Look to Your Parents,
Chapter 12: Doing Your Best,
Chapter 13: The Big Decisions in Life,
Chapter 14: Deciding What Challenges to Take On,
Part 3 | Setting Priorities,
Chapter 15: Put Your Family First,
Chapter 16: Do What is Right, Not What is Easy,
Chapter 17: Plan for the Worst,
Chapter 18: Keep Some Variety in Your Life,
Chapter 19: Helping the Less Fortunate,
Chapter 20: Speak Up and Take Charge,
Chapter 21: Stay in Shape,
Part 4 | Resisting Pressure and Overcoming Adversity,
Chapter 22: Getting Hurt,
Chapter 23: Setting Sexual Boundaries,
Chapter 24: Drugs and Drinking,
Chapter 25: Cheating,
Chapter 26: Playing Politics,
Chapter 27: Don't Just Follow the Crowd,
Chapter 28: What is Cool Now Isn't Always Cool Later,
Part 5 | Keeping an Eye on the Future,
Chapter 29: The Value of Education,
Chapter 30: The Importance of Saving,
Chapter 31: You Will Compete Against the Whole World,
Chapter 32: Assume What You Do Will Become Public Knowledge,
Chapter 33: Treat Everyone Well and It Will Pay Off,
Chapter 34: Having Children,
Chapter 35: Exercising Your Right to Vote,
About the Author,

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