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on Leading the Next Generation


In Case Your Parents Haven’t Told You This Yet…

20 Conversations Today’s Kids Need to Have

Today’s world is challenging and complex. It’s a difficult world in which to navigate our lives. It’s so different than the one my parents helped me enter, as a young adult.

For many reasons, today’s adult has often been unwilling or unable to host crucial conversations with teens and twenty-somethings. Consequently, students graduate unready for the world that awaits them. One Atlanta teacher observed this reality and on a weekly basis launches a helpful discussion by saying, “In case your parents haven’t told you this yet…” In that same spirit, the following insights are designed to ignite those important discussions that enable a young person to enter adulthood with their eyes wide open and savvy to the world in which they now live. And frankly, the world in which they’ll spend the rest of their life.

Here are twenty conversation beginnings that I believe are necessary for every young adult to engage. Start your next conversation with these foundations…


  1. You should learn to fail early.
  1. No one owes you anything.
  1. Work ethic is the most important skill to take into your career.
  1. Every decision has a benefit or a consequence.
  1. You should view happiness as a by-product not a pursuit.
  1. Taking responsibility for yourself is actually liberating.
  1. You will never grow without a struggle.
  1. Maturity demands that you get over yourself.
  1. Your EQ is more important than your IQ.
  1. You will sabotage yourself if you cannot delay gratification.
  1. Life is not fair and not everyone wins.
  1. Healthy self-esteem requires achievement not just affirmation.
  1. Be willing to serve the coffee in order to get ahead.
  1. Making progress will always mean taking risks.
  1. Your job represents an exchange: while at work, your boss owns your time.
  1. Tech skills without soft skills are not enough.
  1. Success will likely take longer than you think it will.
  1. The more resources you’re given, the less resourceful you’ll tend to become.
  1. The first person you must learn to lead…is yourself.
  1. The practice is the reward.

May this simple list launch helpful, relevant, and meaningful conversations with the students or young professionals in your life.

Your future, and theirs, may depend on it.


  1. David M on March 15, 2016 at 5:50 am

    Thought provoking list. Most of these ideas can be implemented at early ages. It is probably better if you get started earlier than later. Additionally, these conversations are the responsibility of the parents.

    • Tim Elmore on March 15, 2016 at 2:25 pm

      I completely agree, David. Let’s start these conversations as early as possible.

  2. krista on March 15, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    What do you mean by the last one: “The practice is the reward”?

    • Tim Elmore on March 18, 2016 at 10:17 am

      “The practice is the reward” simply means that healthy people fall in love with the process as much as the product in life. They enjoy the journey, getting better and better at what they do and who they are, as much as the goal they are targeting.

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In Case Your Parents Haven’t Told You This Yet…