More and more high school and college graduates and are finding it increasingly difficult to find employment.
I have been on this earth for nearly a half a century, and have made more than my share of bad decisions. That being said, here is my humble attempt to offer some friendly advice to our local youths:
But first learn how to speak, read and write English. Many of today's text-addicted youths seem to have lost the ability to properly construct a sentence, much less a paragraph. Being able to effectively communicate is a crucial life skill that seems to be disappearing.
In this ever increasingly competitive and global environment, those who possess superior language skills will rise to the top. By the way, the earlier one learns how to speak a second language, the better, especially when trying to master tonal languages such as Mandarin.
Every time I travel to a foreign country, my own lack of global linguistic skills humbles me. The Chinese have a saying: "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today." Maybe I need to listen to my own advice.
Find a mentor
Last week, Galt Police Lt. Brian Vizzusi asked me to be part of an interview panel to help his department fill several anticipated vacancies. The day-long experience reminded me of when I was a young man whose first semi-law enforcement job was working as a Lodi park ranger in the 1980s.
During that time I was very fortunate to become best friends with a retired federal special agent who quietly lived near Lodi Lake. He not only greatly enhanced my street tactical skills, but he also improved my overall critical thinking and interviewing techniques. His mentorship profoundly accelerated my law enforcement career, and allowed me to have multiple experiences (good, great, bad and horrible) that would have been absolutely impossible to achieve on my own.
Years later, I surprisingly discovered that most of his lessons transferred over to the business world.
Stan Toscano, owner of the the Iron Dragon School Tactical School of Self Defense in Galt, strongly reminds me of my former mentor. With more than 30 years of experience in law enforcement, Stan still teaches firearms instruction and defensive tactics at various police academies. His last assignment as a state parole agent put him in constant contact with Stockton's most notorious second-strikers, gang-bangers and high-risk sexual offenders. This gives Stan plenty of real-world life experience to draw upon and share with his more advanced students.
Anyone interested in a career in law enforcement — or just wanting to learn some self-defense — should consider giving Mr. Stan Toscano a call.
The world is full of mentors in every profession waiting to be discovered.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself."
Volunteering is a great way for young people to develop leadership skills, network with potential future employers, and develop a resume, while at the same time doing something good for others. There are many nonprofit service organizations in our area that are looking for some new energy. Do not be shy, and get involved.
Maintain good character, even when you think nobody is looking
Regardless of the profession, people like to work with people whom they like and whom they can trust. Smoking dope, getting multiple traffic tickets or engaging in risky behavior does not invoke trust.
Learn how to disagree without being confrontational. Learn how to take constructive criticism, and have patience with both yourself and others. Be willing to pay your dues — and understand what that really means in your particular profession.
Want to be a master chef? Don't expect to get out of culinary school and immediately become the next Wolfgang Puck. The most important job in any restaurant is that of the dishwasher, so if that is your current job, do it as best you can.
The only way to achieve big goals is to accomplish several small goals. So pull up your pants, be respectful, eat with your mouth shut and stop writing like a drunken sailor on Facebook. Whether they should or not, employers look at that stuff. I know I do.
Frank Gayaldo is the executive director of the Galt District Chamber of Commerce. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.