Noodle Expert Ron Reis discusses what Ben Franklin can teach us about using our time to the greatest advantage and how saying no to a finance career led him down a rewarding professional path.
Who would you pick, alive or dead, to be your teacher for a year? What would you want to learn?
That’s an easy one. Ben Franklin on time management. Let’s see, he (deep inhale) founded the first public library, the first fire department, and the University of Pennsylvania, published newspapers, authored many many pieces of writing, invented the lightening rod, bifocals, a stove, and a urinary catheter, was a demographer, oceanographer, postmaster, meteorologist, scientist, and musician, was Grand Master of the Masonic Lodge, a statesman, and governor, and drafted and signed the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution (exhale).
Of his many notable quotes (even if he didn't quite put it this way), I find “Beer is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy” to be one of the most telling of his personality.
Understanding that no one is perfect, I’m certain he had his fair share of “failures.” Nonetheless, it’s beyond impressive what he accomplished in his lifetime. I think it’s pretty safe to say he knows a thing or two about how to make the most of the time given.
What is one small piece of advice that has had a big impact on your life?
A person for whom I hold a lot of respect once told me, "It's not how much money you make, it's what you do with your money." That has resonated with me throughout my life. Think about it — this can be interpreted in so many ways, but no matter how you slice it, it still makes a lot of sense. For example, it could mean that money doesn't buy happiness; or, invest wisely; or, don't be materialistic; or, don't judge someone on appearance. It's profound, and I've thought about it often throughout my life. I believe it's helped me make some wise decisions.
Where would you send a student who hasn't traveled before?
Hmm. I have to know where you're starting before I can tell you where to go. In other words, it kind of depends on where you're from. I'll start with the cliché that "Everyone needs to live in New York City but leave before you're too hard, and everyone needs to live in California but leave before you're too soft." That said, NYC is one of the greatest cities on earth; it's got to be on your bucket list.
I've been fortunate enough to travel to all four corners of the U.S. — from Seattle to San Diego, Miami to Maine. I've enjoyed the variety of culture unique to each location. New Hampshire will take you in a time machine back to days when things were much simpler. By way of example, there's no cell phone reception in much of the northern part of the state. Atlanta and New Orleans have amazing culture and awesome food. And, Boston, Chicago, and Seattle are definitely on my short list of faves.
When was a time that you failed academically, and what did you learn from the experience?
Let me start by saying you've never failed until you stop trying. I can't think of a specific academic failure, but more of a theme. In high school, I was what you might describe as a typical kid. I spent a lot of time trying to fit in and doing the things I thought mattered at the moment. I was a bit shortsighted, not able to see past the current school year, let alone beyond to college. I recall a conversation I had with my guidance counselor in the beginning of my senior year when he asked me where I wanted to go to college. I told him, and he responded, "Yeah, that ship has sailed already." I was crushed. By doing barely more than was necessary, I had closed doors on my future. I spent my senior year making up for past mistakes and was fortunate to recover.
What did I learn from this? Had I exerted myself just a tad bit more, say 15 minutes more a day — that's 21,900 minutes over the course of a typical high school career! — I would have likely had more opportunities. The grand lesson here is that even a small amount of effort, combined with persistence will lend itself to great results.
Why did you go into your field, and how is it different from what you expected?
I fell into my field. I initially pursued hospitality management in college but changed majors to marketing halfway through. When I graduated, my first job offer was in a stockbroker training program. I declined and instead took a great job with a university in Miami. I started out in college radio as a hobby, which led to an internship in commercial radio. Radio begat television. Television begat Internet video. Here I am now full-circle, doing Internet video programming for colleges. It's no different than I expected. I love what I do — I mean who doesn't love making videos and uploading them to the web? And I get paid to do it.