“After board dinners, we inevitably sit around and talk about our kids and their careers,” Dave Calhoun recently told me. “Frankly, we’re often at a loss with how to help them.” If someone with Calhoun’s experience has trouble with this – he’s chairman of Nielsen’s board, sits on boards of Boeing and Caterpillar, and is on the management committee at Blackstone – I know he can’t be alone.
The truth is, it’s difficult to advise kids about how careers really work today and how to get any job, much less a great job. All parents love their kids and want to set them up for a life of self-sufficiency, meaning, and happiness. But at the same time, your advice may be heavily discounted – the world has changed since you were job-hunting as a new grad, and your kid may not see that you realize that. Moreover, whether you intend it or not, chances are your kids will perceive that you expect them to surpass your own success, which can make even the most well-intentioned conversation feel fraught.