My husband is upstairs asleep, and the living room is nearly silent as I type up some work on my laptop from the comfort of my gray overstuffed couch, with my stocking feet up on the dark stained wood coffee table standing in front of me. My two black and white tabby cats snore loudly in their slumber, curled up next to me on both my sides. I think to myself, “Now, this is the life”. I’m comfortable and focused on the words I am typing when the ringing of my phone startles me.

“HI, I’m calling from Business Talk Radio and we’d like to interview you…”

What a surprise! A very good surprise! I don’t know what jolted me more, the phone ringing or the idea that a radio host wanted to interview little ol’ me! But, of course, I happily obliged. In this interview, we talk about college, COVID and business. It was a fantastic experience and I thank Business Talk Radio for the opportunity.

Give it a listen, here: https://businesstalkradio1.com/renee-bailey-05-05-20-youth-motivational-speaker/

Mike Pickles is a Canadian podcaster who seeks “to educate, inspire and empower you to become your absolute best.” That first word, “educate”, resonated with me, so when Mike asked if I would come on his podcast, The Daily Dill, it was a no brainer! Come listen to our conversation about education, college and the challenges that university students face. Many thanks to Mike for a great conversation on the topic love the most.

Listen here: https://anchor.fm/mike-a-pickles/episodes/Ep–12–Renee-Bailey-Youth-Speaker–Author-eephl6

One word best describes my amazing friend Ricardo Luis Canez. While he is, indeed, amazing that isn’t the word. It is music. As any truly musicophile might, Ricardo has an encyclopedic knowledge of bands, songs and instruments. He doesn’t just love music, he loves music. From Jimi Hendrix to Prince to Beyoncé, Mexican and Latin artists, and every artist in between, he knows it all.

Ricardo’s passion for music is only out matched by his passion for helping those around him. To that end he started not one, but two different podcasts to help musicians and everyday folk like myself, stay amazing. I was humbled and honored when he thought I was amazing enough to ask me to come on his podcast “The Stay Amazing” show.

To hear the podcast, go here: https://www.thestayamazingshow.com/2020/03/
Follow Ricardo on Instagram, go here: https://www.instagram.com/thestayamazingshow/

There’s a good chance that by now any High school graduate / college aged woman (or man for that matter) has encountered quite a few messages about their body. These messages come from many sources: family, friends/ acquaintances, advertisements and other media. Some messages will be positive: “You look healthy”, “I love your smile”, “These clothes will look great on you,” etc. Some will not be positive: “You could lose a little weight”, “You’re scrawny”, “You have no style” or “You’re ugly”. Unfortunately, the negative thoughts seem to be the loudest in our heads. They scream loudly and drown out any thoughts of faith in ourselves.

Whether we realize it or not, these messages bake into our thoughts, forming a cohesive internal image of ourselves. It pre-programs our beliefs about ourselves and in such a subtle way that we don’t even fully realize it, at times. We look at a certain dress and think to ourselves “I’m a bigger woman, I can’t wear that.” We look at our own works of literature or artwork and think to ourselves, “It’s not good enough to sell. Who would want this?!” We get a high “B” on the most difficult test and our first thought is, “Dang! I wanted the ‘A’”. These thoughts are so frequent that they probably number in the thousands throughout a typical day.

I have heard these thoughts called “mind viruses”. Nothing could be truer. You cannot think these kind of thoughts and hope to have a positive life. You cannot limit yourself by your own thoughts and expect to live a life free of limitation. Now, there are certain things we’re going to have to accept about ourselves.

I am not six feet tall and therefore a journey to WNBA is not likely in the cards for me. But by the same token, however difficult it might be, if were willing to pay the price in time, practice, and dedication, despite my 5’2 height, I could make myself into a great basketball player. If it is my passion and my enjoyment, there’s no reason in the world why I shouldn’t or couldn’t pursue it either.

I would say to any student who is frustrated by people telling them that they can’t, shouldn’t or won’t do those things they want to do the most, “Show them different!” Wear the clothes that people don’t think look good on you, if you like them. Pick up a guitar if it is your passion to play it. Start your own 501c3 to give to those who you’d like to support. Start your own business to support yourself. Apply to medical school, even if you don’t have a 4.0 GPA.

Don’t allow the limited imaginations of those around you to cause you to place limits on your own imagination. Do not let those who have thrown away their dreams, force you to place your dreams in the wastebasket. You can do it. Your wildest daydreams can come to pass when you put your effort into to making them real and push aside the negative and believe in yourself.

ROI. ROI is a nice account/business short hand for “Return on Investment”. Business people always want to assess the ROI on a business venture. A high ROI means that you will receive back whatever you have invested into the business, plus some extra. Obviously a high ROI is desirable and people who are looking for invest into a business are trying to determine whether they will have a good outcome for their investment want to see a high ROI.

In the age of constantly increasing tuition and decreasing government investment in the educational system, students and their parents are now having to do a very complicated and important calculation of ROI on investing in their college education. In a certain way, this makes sense for them to do. Why? For two reasons:

1. What are we always told as we’re growing up? Go to school and get a good job! With that mindset, they are looking at college as their ticket to job skills that they need to get a good job.

2. Students are under the impression that they are not going to be able to get their college education without taking students loans. Student loans are becoming the amount of a small mortgage and most students aren’t taking advantage of the large amount of scholarships that are available (check out websites like Scholly for more). With that being the case, they want to make sure that they are able to “get the good job” they need to pay off the student loan debt they accumulate while attending college.

So, when many students do their mental math, they look at the ROI and decide to put off or forego their college education all together. They figure that going into debt for college is not worth it and they will be better served by going to a less expensive technical school or starting an entry level job straight out of high school.
There’s a few large problems with this method of analysis, though. First, for the simple reason that college graduates have gone through the process of obtaining that little piece of paper which says they are highly employable (aka: college diploma), college graduates will make twice as much as their colleagues with only a high school diploma.

Secondly college can be more affordable than many people would presuppose. A study from NerdScholar, around $2.9 billion of federal grant money was left unclaimed after high school seniors eligible for Pell Grants — which don’t have be paid back — neglected to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in the last academic year. That means overall, if you don’t think you’re eligible for government aid or other scholarships, not only may you be wrong but you’re missing out on a whole lot of benefits.

Thirdly, if you’re going to college focused on the ROI, you’re going for the wrong reasons. Yes, it is important to have skills which are going to be marketable in the job market. You should want to make yourself valuable to people looking to hire. However, if you’re only looking to attend a university for that reason, you’re missing out on the opportunities to explore different areas of interest, widening your world view through introduction to different cultures, and just general mind expansion that you get by being in the environment of an institution of higher education.

So, what it comes down to is this, GO TO COLLEGE. You’re going to get a huge ROI, if you do it right. And you CAN do it right.

Judgment is a word that is thrown around a lot. One of the multiple Merriam Webster’s definition of “Judgment” is “the process of forming an opinion or evaluation by discerning and comparing careful judgment of the odds”. People talk about others as having good or bad judgment. They speak about the need for discerning judgment in certain situations.

Judgment is something you can place on a person, or situation. You can judge what someone did was right or wrong. You can make a judgment as to whether or not something is worth your time. We make judgments about anything from national politics to the calls of an NFL referee.  Your judgments are made based on what you know, experienced and feel. Your judgments reflect your personal values and what you care about.

The basis of good judgment is critical thinking. At this time in history, we are experiencing a true dearth of critical thinking and it seems something that is missing from our elementary and high school level academics for the most part. Rather than being taught HOW to think and hone our judgment, we’re taught WHAT to think from any one of our many authority figures: teachers, parents, and even political figures. Our early understandings of history, for instance, come from a very watered down and black and white thinking: “Columbus was a good guy because he ‘discovered’ the Americas”. It’s not until later on, if we’re lucky, that we shed this view.

In my mind, that’s dangerous and here’s why. Life is lived in the grays. It is complex. A lack of critical thinking leads to poor judgments being made. What initially appear to be small bad judgments can lead to very bad consequences. I’m talking major consequences, like World War II, in which an entire population was duped into hating wide swaths of their own society because they did not bother to discern or act upon the truth when presented with propagandized lies about Jewish people, LGBT people and others.

To put into a more modern day context, let’s look at the uproar over a “mega-preacher’s” the recent response (or what some have termed a lack of response) to hurricane Harvey. People have been in a fervor over the fact that Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church did not open to people as a shelter until a few days later and at a point in time when people had already been criticizing the church for not having opened sooner.

Now, in an effort at full disclosure, I happened to have lived in Houston from time I was about two and half years old until I was just about ten years old. I know the area, somewhat and by somewhat, I mean in that vague way that one remembers their childhood home, when they’ve been away for a great deal of time and things have obviously changed since. I have a great deal of love for the state of Texas, the city of Houston and for the people living there.  They are good, kind people, for most part. The kind of people that remember the words ma’am and sir with every sentence, though they have their share of bigotry, as any southern state seems to have.

I am also familiar with the work of Pastor Osteen. I’ve read and listened to some of his work on tape. I’m Jewish but the sense of positive thinking and hope which permeates his writing does appeal to me, even if it derives from what Christians refer to as the New Testament. I don’t really believe in any religious entities’ requests for donations or dues, but I find Lakewoods’ promotions no more offensive than my own synagogue’s rather large fees for attendance of High Holy Days services, vague “tikkun olam” collections at services, collections for the planting of trees in Israel or other related programs.

So when all of this hubbub about Joel Osteen came to pass, it was with my critical mind that I digested what was being said. First off, I knew that Pastor Osteen’s Church was once the arena where my favorite basketball team played and where my mother took me to Barbara Mandrell sing, as a young girl.  It was known as “The Summit” when I lived there. I knew that the property was on the outskirts of the downtown area. I also knew from new reports that the downtown area was the worst affected by flooding, particularly from the Buffalo Bayou.

Buffalo Bayou is akin to the Rillito River dry bed which runs through the northeast part of the city of Tucson Arizona. In Arizona we call them washes, in Houston their called bayous and are covered in beautiful thick grass until such time as the rains come and fill them up to capacity.

Because I knew all of this, I knew that The Summit had previously been flooded during heavy rains and hurricanes and might have been prone to be flooded again. I also knew that the major freeways like the 610 and I45 were also flooded during the rains, making it very difficult for those who really were in need to reach the property. I later learned that when Lakewood acquired the property, they had built flood walls to prevent the major flooding that had previously. Those flood walls were nearly breached during the storm and there was in fact, some minor flooding of the building.

I also gave some thought to what they actually had to offer at the time of the greatest flooding. They have no means to feed people, no means to give water to them, no beds or blankets, and limited sewer facilities. They had little more to offer than a place to get out of the rain and that’s if the building weren’t flooded or guarantees that the building wouldn’t flood if the water rose even further. Not to mention that there would be means of providing security should bad people do what they do best, bad things.

After giving this all the logical thought to the matter, I concluded that the “outrage” was unlikely invalid. It illogical for people to expect Joel Osteen to open the doors to Lakewood Church under the circumstances as I understood them. I used deductive reasoning. I did not allow what anyone had said one way or another, in the form of opinion, to sway my opinion. I simply used what I knew to be true fact.

Others have the same facts before them and may come to another judgment because they are ignoring part of the picture, in my opinion. That’s their prerogative. Vociferously, they have stated their case for their displeasure with Pastor Osteen.

I have no problem with people disagreeing with me over my conclusions. But more and more, I find that people aren’t disagreeing on the basis of their understanding of the facts, but rather their complete dismissal of facts. This does not relegate itself strictly to one political party or type of person. It’s quite an equal opportunity type decline.

The steps through which I came to my decision, I was privileged to learn how to do during the course of my college career and that’s an important skill.  It’s something you want to use for the rest of your life.  College is a time to learn how to exercise your judgment. Use the time you spend in college to learn HOW to think and not WHAT to think, even if it makes you unpopular.

I’m sure that some people are wondering why I am expanding Know Better Do Better Education’s offerings to include subject tutoring. Short and sweet answer: Tutoring saved me. This is not some hyperbole. In high school, I was a depressed, low performing student in my math classes. I didn’t know at the time, or at least, I didn’t want to accept at the time, that I had learning disabilities that were keeping me from performing at my best without extra help.

I was a bad speller, to the point that my World History teacher muttered under his breath to me that his cat could spell better than I could. (I wish I could have told that teacher that in the five years following that spellcheck would eliminate that from ever being an issue for anyone, especially me, ever again.)

I felt ten steps behind the rest of the students, particularly in math. This was compounded by the fact that I had a math teacher who believe that I just wasn’t applying myself and gave off the vibe that if I wasn’t able to learn by her teaching methods, I was either not wanting to learn or simply unable to learn. I tried! I spent hours after school, sometimes up until 11pm at night, on the homework that should have taken me a half hour to an hour. I worked so hard at learning math that I literally dreamed about it and was trying to solve geometry problems in my sleep.

I tried so hard to learn and wanted to badly to understand that I began to think that I was just stupid, unworthy of any teacher’s time. When I came home with a “D” for my semester’s grade in Geometry, it was simply the conformation that I was not good enough written in red ink.  All of the hours, the effort and, yes, tears shed amounted to nothing.

That was when my mother saw my distress writ bold across my face and loudly stated in the sound of my voice. She kissed my tear streaked cheeks and said, “It’s ok, hun. No one is going to put on your tombstone that you go a D in geometry. But we’ve got to do something. Let’s see about getting you a tutor.” I told her I didn’t think it would help. That I was just dumb. She said, “I don’t believe that. You’ve got nothing to lose by trying it.”

So I asked my teacher for recommendations for tutors. The response I got was a simple question: “Why do you think you need one?” A thousand replies floated through my head, some not so nice, but the answer came out, “Because I’m not doing well and I need help understanding”. The teacher and administration threw up roadblocks to my getting a tutor. We were told the person I was to be tutored by had to be approved by the administration and told that the teacher still believed that I didn’t need one. I jumped through every one of the hoops they set up and finally got a tutor.

The tutor I had was a gem of a man. I was so anxious and fearful of learning math that, at times, I was like a beaten puppy who’d finally had enough and lashed out at the next hand that went to touch them. My tutor never took it personally, though. He never snapped back, he never lost his cool and always, but always, found ways for me to understand the process of solving the problems that I was being presented. It was only through his help that I began to love learning math again. My grades improved. The next semester I got an A and my overall course grade was a B, if I recall correctly. That’s only a small portion of the wonder of tutoring for me.

The true miracle of tutoring for me, was the increase in self-confidence I experienced. The true miracle of tutoring was the restoration of my faith in educating myself and that I could be educated. The true miracle of tutoring was growing to know that I wasn’t stupid, or unwilling to learn. I was simply in need of help.

Since then, I have seen too many students walk into the chemistry lab showing all of the signs of having been beaten down by the subject, feeling like they don’t understand or worse yet, are incapable of understanding. It is true to say that not everyone has the same strengths or enjoys the same things. It is fine if you don’t care to learn about one subject or the other. But if your heart’s desire is to further your understanding of a science or math, don’t ever consider yourself limited simply because you don’t understand the first time.

That’s why Know Better Do Better Education is adding tutoring to its services. No student should be made to feel less than, or a burden because they don’t understand a concept as explained by any teacher or “fall through the cracks” because teachers simply aren’t always given the resources they need. If they are struggling, they deserve help. KBDB Education is here to help fill in this crucial gap. To provide the caring, competent and confident tutoring distressed students need to succeed.

Please, if you are a student that resonates with what I have written here, contact us. Please, if you’re a parent and you’ve spent way too much time consoling your child over grades than watching them bloom, call us. Don’t live in silent agony. We will do our best to help.