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Ian Ybarra

Last Build Date: Mon, 02 Mar 2009 22:17:03 -0500

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For high school juniors: Apply to Economics For Leaders

Mon, 02 Mar 2009 22:17:03 -0500

The blog post below was written before the 2009 application deadline. My story, opinion, and advice are still the same. IMPORTANT NOTE: Applications for summer 2010 are due by Monday, March 1. But even if you're reading this only a day or two before the deadline, you can easily get your application in. It's on the web. The only thing that takes real thought or time is one very short essay response. You can do that in an hour or two, take a break, have someone read it, make some edits, and submit less than a day if you hustle. "Economics for Leaders" [] is a one-week summer enrichment program for high school juniors held on 11 different dates and college campuses across the country. I attended Economics for Leaders back in 1999 (and to get there, I flew for the very first time - Southwest Airlines). Since then, I've helped my two younger brothers and ten other students from my little high school in Smallville, Kansas, attend Economics for Leaders programs at colleges all over the country. It is THE BEST summer program I know of for high school kids in terms of what they'll take from it, how little it costs, and its accessibility to everyone. In the mornings, students participate in fun, interactive games and lessons to illustrate basic economic concepts. The afternoons are devoted to outdoor, group activities designed to teach teamwork and leadership. Evenings are focused on personal development. Students are guided through self-discovery exercises and get advice from guest speakers on topics like college prep, career development, and beginning personal finance. I tell students there are 5 big reasons to attend Economics for Leaders (EFL). 1) Going to EFL will help you choose a college. - Visiting a new campus and experiencing the residence halls, cafeterias, athletic facilities, and surrounding city helps students know what they like and what they don't before having to selecting the school that's best for them. 2) Going to EFL will help you get into college (and win scholarships). - The most important thing for an admission committee is to see that a student has challenged herself and is prepared to succeed at their college. Going to programs like Economics for Leaders, which means giving up a week of summer vacation facebook-ing to learn something alongside talented, motivated students from across the country and not getting homesick in the process, is a great way to show that. 3) Going to EFL will help you get to go to college (especially if you want to go far away from home). -- If you wake up one morning in November of your senior year and ask your parents if you can go away to college in Hawaii for the next four years, the answer will probably be No! But if you start by taking your parents through the baby step of letting you go to Economics for Leaders for one week this summer, there's a much better chance of them supporting your decision to attend college in Florida next year. 4) The application is easy and good practice for next year's college applications. -- The only part of the application that takes a little brain power is an essay response -- limited to 500 words or less -- about a leadership experience you've had and the lessons you learned that you can apply in the future. 5) It's CHEAP! - Economics for Leaders is heavily subsidized by generous contributions to the Foundation for Teaching Economics. It costs nothing to apply. Once you're accepted, it costs only $125-to-$200 (depending on program location) for the entire week. That's a steal compared to most summer programs - academic or athletic - that cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars more. (Transportation to and from the program is the participant's responsibility, but I've advised students on ways to defer those costs, too.) For more information about Economics for Leaders, including... - Program description - Sample weeklong schedule - Dates and locations - Online application ...go to Act fast! Application deadline for summer 2009 is this Friday, March 6. [...]

My book is out - RECRUIT OR DIE

Sun, 26 Aug 2007 09:30:55 -0500

Click here or on the cover to see Recruit Or Die on Amazon.
Read the introduction for free
Listen to my first interview about the book.
Or scroll down for links to more early media mentions.


Kirkus Reports - review of Recruit Or Die
Harvard Business Review online - Ideacast interview with our lead author Chris Resto
Entrepreneur magazine
Yahoo! columnist Penelope Trunk on how to use Recruit Or Die to help your career

If you know anyone whose organization recruits young talent, please tell them about Recruit Or Die. Or introduce them to me directly (ian -AT- I'd be happy to talk recruiting with them.

Dance like nobody's watching

Mon, 05 Feb 2007 10:50:53 -0500


So proud of my friend Beau. Now performing with several professional companies in New York, he tells the Lawrence Journal-World how hard it was to overcome societal pressures to do what he loves.

Beau Hancock lived in fear of those stereotypes as a boy growing up in the small southwest Kansas town of Hugoton. He was afraid of being teased. Afraid of being dubbed a sissy or called gay.

“For years I denied that I danced,” says Hancock, who studied dance at Kansas University and now performs professionally in several New York companies. “When I had to leave sports practice early to drive to dance class, which was in a nearby town, I would lie about where I was going, even though all my friends knew. I was embarrassed, and especially in elementary and middle school, I was teased.”

Link: Lawrence Journal-World - "It's a man's whirl"

The VP who quit to become an actor

Tue, 02 Jan 2007 11:34:21 -0500

Just read this in Men's Health. Guy's name is Steve Belanger.

I must admit, my life had been pretty comfortable. I was a vice president--one of hundreds, but still--at one of the largest corporations in the world. There was a lot of room for advancement. I had a nice office, an enormous expense account, and plenty of perks. I played more free golf on the country's top courses than my 19 handicap deserved.

And I don't need to tell you how tough it is to become an actor. There are just shy of a gazillion actors in America trying out for seven roles. I know because they all cram into small, windowless waiting rooms every time I go out for an audition. And screen-writing, my backup dream, is even harder to break into. Walk into any Starbucks in New York or L.A. and ask for a script, and you'll have baristas coming at you as if you're an unclaimed acre in Sooner territory.

So why would I, by all accounts a reasonably intelligent person, take such a huge risk?

I wasn't happy.

Three things to do now.

1. Read the whole article Men's Health - "Why I Quit My 6-figure Job"

2. Learn more about Steve at his website and this hilarious bio/story about his career actually living The Office.

3. Whatever it takes to make sure that when you're 38, your bio doesn't start with the line After a sixteen-year, soul-crushing career as a corporate executive... (Steve's bio)

Why John Edwards became a trial lawyer

Thu, 28 Dec 2006 11:33:10 -0500

Letterman: When you were a kid...what drove you or led you to law?

Edwards: I thought Perry Mason was cool.

That and more in the video below (starts at 2:28 if you want to get right to it).
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In the Boston Globe

Sun, 26 Nov 2006 12:38:53 -0500


I'm in the cover story of the Boston Works section today (that's me in the blue, my friend Chris who built the largest internship program at MIT is in the black). It's about how mentors can help jumpstart your career.

Link: Boston Sunday Globe - "Find someone to watch over you"

Or if that doesn't work, try the writer's blog at
Link: Penelope Trunk - "Get good mentors by building relationships"


Andy Byrnes, baseball bat maker

Sat, 18 Nov 2006 11:01:27 -0500


I knew nothing about woodworking when I started.

He just knew he loved baseball. Now he's worked five years at Sambat, the company known for its maple bats that Barry Bonds and Albert Pujols use.

Link: Popular Mechanics - "This is My Job: Baseball Bat Maker"

Emily Meehan, trying to make it in media, in New York

Fri, 17 Nov 2006 12:08:31 -0500

Great first-person account of the hope and hopelessness that come with moving to New York by yourself to do anything but work on Wall Street, really.


As I studied my icons' biographies on Wikipedia, I realized that Joan Didion, Hunter Thompson and Dorothy Parker were not alone with a buzzing fly in a borrowed apartment at age 26. They were out and about, working with witty peers and learning from their elders.

Many creative twentysomethings I know are happy to rent a room from someone else and live off cereal and burritos until they make their mark. Me too, but I want to feel like I'm getting somewhere while I'm doing it. I also need to know when money is coming in and how much for the sake of my own sanity.

Yet another harsh reminder that having control of your money situation is undeniably one of the four keys to living your dreams.

Full column on WSJ CollegeJournal - Free-lance Dreams Give Way to Reality

Office space sucking the life out of creative young people

Fri, 17 Nov 2006 11:34:31 -0500

Stever's story of a college kid turned everyman and the corporation transforming his life from a verb into a noun will make you want to run away from cubicles as fast as you can.

Link: - "What's My Age Again?"

Kal Kaur Rai, Fashion Designer

Thu, 16 Nov 2006 15:09:33 -0500


Kal Kaur Rai, who was once too nervous to mention it to her parents that she had ventured into the fashion business, has won the Young Achiever category at the Asian Business Awards...

...In the beginning, Rai did not know how her parents would react to her chosen career.

"I did a university management degree and I was concerned they would say that they had not paid for my education to waste it on clothes," said Rai, who runs her own shop just off Oxford Circus...


Cure for the college student's laziness

Thu, 16 Nov 2006 12:51:46 -0500

I can't stand that so many college students only apply for jobs advertised on their campus.

I ask them why, and they say they don't know what else is out there.

I tell them not to worry about what else is out there and to just look for what they want to do, and they say, naturally, But I don't know what I want to do. Because I don't know what else is out there.

I understand how at 18 or 20 or 65 there's no way to know about every job in the world, but the only way you'll learn about some of the jobs that currently exist (and that still doesn't account for the 50% of jobs that don't exist until you do them) is to ask people about their jobs and to read about people's jobs.

Then they say they don't have time to get in touch with interesting professionals or to look up good stuff to read about cool jobs.

Given that whether they find work they like will impact their lives more than anything else in the coming years, I'm tempted to say they're lazy and they just don't get it. But I also know that most of the best and brightest college students are way overworked.

So, I'm going to do it for them.

I'm going to start posting every great career story and personal profile my friends and I run across, stuff we talk about all the time, the stuff that's helped me and others I know learn about so many cool jobs out there that help us decide what we want to do.

So for you and anyone you know who wants to discover your dream job or get the info you need to piece one together for yourself, but you don't have time to go hunting for everything yourself, this is the place to tune in.

Here's the first thing for you to read.

"Get a Job!" - an abandoned archive at of well-written profiles of young people launching awesome careers, including the

- how a guy got a bigtime journalism job by starting a blog
- how a boy named Peter became the youngest writer at The Onion
- how a young woman named Liz Drew "went from sitting on a milk crate in Chicago to working for Senator Obama in Washington," which I promise will get your attention with this introduction...

This edition of Get a Job will begin with a simple question, a brief query that should establish whether Liz Drew’s occupation is cooler than yours: Has Barack Obama ever brought you a cake with a picture of yourself on it, then proceeded to lead the room in a vigorous rendition of Happy Birthday? No? Well then, maybe you could be doing better.

Four reasons parents don’t support their kids’ dreams

Sat, 28 Oct 2006 22:20:58 -0500

Stanford junior (and gymnast!) Jason Shen sent me some very sharp observations of why his Chinese parents and the parents of other Stanford students aren’t crazy about your wild career dreams. My thoughts follow each of his points below. JS 1: Parents don't get much of the reward, but absorb a lot of the risk. Paul Graham has talked about this. What happens when you move to LA to make it big in Hollywood. Your parents don't get to go to the parties, meet tons of new people, acting in small roles, etc. They do have to deal with the risk of a broke, run down, crying and worse, coked-out child coming home to mom and dad when things don't work out. That risk is a lot lower when someone becomes a doctor or biomedical engineer IY: Right on. If when your parents ask you How’s work? and you give them the same dull answer you gave when they asked How’s school? (Fine.) then it will be impossible for them to see the reward of doing what you love. (And if all you’re saying is Fine you’re probably not doing what you love.) This is what cell phones and digital cameras and e-mail are for. Don’t just put your photos on facebook. Show the most clean fun ones to your parents. Call home once a week and act like you like it. I have a friend who quit his high school teaching job in Kansas to move to Nashville to play music. He sends a documentary video of his new life to his parents about once a month. And they get so excited that I hear about it the next day from my mom who heard from my dad who works with Scott’s dad. If we follow our hearts because we’re so in love with something we forget about the risk, the same can happen for your parents. Get them drunk on the dream so they forget about the worst-case scenario. JS 2) Losing Face - Failure isn't just a problem of taking care of your child. Its also dealing with questions of "what is junior doing these days?" It's embarassing to have to say "oh, he's staying at home while he looks for a new job". Sure, this is shallow, but it is a real factor. IY: Yup, it’s shallow, but it is a huge factor. Not just your parents but for yourself. I know people whose biggest fear about quitting their jobs is having to answer the question What do you do? And unless they stop caring so much about what shallow people think or they start getting really busy doing something they love so they have a real answer, they’ll stay stuck forever. Now back to your parents. You have to be to your parents what Karl Rove is to Dub-ya. Feed them the lines, tell them what to say, explain why it’s good, show them how to sell it. Your parents are not dumb people (Where you think you got your smarts? IQ is genetic). They just don’t have the same information you have. Every winter my dad writes his annual state-of-the-family updates to send to friends and relatives, and every time he gets the names of my and my brothers’ summer programs and scholarships completely wrong. I used to get ticked, but then I realized he just hasn’t seen the names as many times as I have. The letterhead from Economics for Leaders Presented by the Foundation for Teaching Economics had dozens of impressions on my eyes and zero on his. All he heard was me saying I’m going to economics camp. So he took his best guess. If you go to law school or medical school or you’re a teacher or a fireman, your parents will get it right because they’ve heard of that stuff before. But chances are your dream job isn’t that easy to explain. I, for one, don’t have an official title in my day job and I have several other projects that are important to me. But for now I just tell my parents to say Ian's a writer. and mention one notable thing I’ve worked on. If you’re not employed in the traditional sense, then that[...]

No, I will teach you to be rich.

Tue, 29 Aug 2006 18:13:56 -0500

Read this.
AOL Small Business: "Do what you love; Get rich"

Great stories about how turning what you love into your business can turn you into a very wealthy person. (My favorite: How one woman started a sports magazine for women that's growing like crazy, even after Sports Illustrated for Women went kaput.)

If you're doing what you truly love, there will be few others (if any) who will know their stuff as well as you, work as hard as you, or be willing to sacrifice as much as you to make things happen.

Makes me wonder...if I do what I love, do I even need to read stuff like,, and

Yeah, I probably do.

But, although doing what you love is no substitute for financial literacy, I think it's a great complement.

I've noticed that the more specific goals I have, the wilder the dreams I come up with, the more conscious I am of what I spend my money on. Because committing to doing what I love gives me reason for my money. Every time I'm about to waste money, I can't help but think "I shouldn't do this. I could use this money for something I want more."

The finance gurus concur.

It's why every time I hear a story of someone saving money using David Bach's "latte factor," I hear about what they put that saved money toward...a mortgage payment, a vacation, etc.

And it's why Ramit at asks people to figure out why they want to be rich in addition to tracking what they spend their money on.

Internship opportunities

Tue, 29 Aug 2006 16:04:10 -0500

I* have several cool projects for which I’m accepting interns right now. If you or someone you know wants in on one (or two), let me know at ian*AT*ianybarra*DOT*com (*Quick bio at bottom of post if this is first you've heard of me) ------------------ THE WORK ------------------ Jessica's Good People – Inspired by my friend and mentee Jessica Pierce, this will be a celebration of people doing good to perpetuate Jessica's legacy and raise money for her memorial scholarship fund. Guerrilla marketing for a baseball equipment company - Just like what Hugh Macleod is doing for English Cut and Stormhoek. BASEBALL - several outrageous baseball projects, so if you're a baseball nut, let's talk. Ferrazzi/NeverEatAlone projects Spreading the word about global warming - a website/tool that will be simple but effective. Marketing/publicity for a major business book A web 2.0 app all about consumer brands ---------------------- SKILLS REQUIRED ---------------------- Writing (no need to have a laundry list of published works, just some ability and desire to improve) OR Web design (but I'll be even happier if you can do both) ----------------------------- WHAT'S IN IT FOR YOU ----------------------------- These internships are unpaid, so you won't get rich, but you can get... - new skills - a cool work experience to show off to future employers in resumes and interviews - recommendations from me to people I know or reference letters for grad school or scholarships or whatever you might need - consideration for a real job with Keith Ferrazzi or with me (my last intern got a full-time offer to work for Keith) - all the personal career advice you want This is exactly the kind of opportunity I would have jumped on as a college student (however, I am not restricting this to college students...everyone is welcome). If you have any interest in doing a cool project related to baseball, Web 2.0, nonprofits, media, book publishing, blogs, business gurus, community building, product creation, marketing, etc...let me know. ------------------------------------ * BIO BULLETS and other relevant stuff I've done ------------------------------------ - Grew up on baseball, football, and wrestling in Smallville, Kansas - Attended college at MIT, studied materials science and engineering - Advised an entrepreneurship class for four years - Helped start largest internship program at MIT - Had internships at GE Aircraft Engines and IncTank Ventures - Wrote for Inc. magazine - Helped to edit and market Keith Ferrazzi's bestselling book NEVER EAT ALONE - Got a contract with a top publisher to co-author book to help companies recruit college students for internships and full-time jobs - Helped brother get into Stanford and get internship at Negro Leagues Baseball Museum - Helped Mike get internship at Easton Sports, where they "don't hire interns" - Helped Ben muster the guts to quit a master's degree program in something he didn't love and move from Smallville to Nashville to pursue his music dreams - Helped many more people start thinking about doing what they love by writing at And more... Contact ian*AT*ianybarra*DOT*com [...]

Danger Mouse doing what he loves

Fri, 25 Aug 2006 12:34:20 -0500

Sure you heard the hit song "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley. Here's what the duo's Danger Mouse says in Rolling Stone about making the album St. Elsewhere.

We didn’t worry about who would listen to it or what station would play it. We were just trying to impress each other.

Link: Rolling Stone - "Gnarls Barkley: This Summer's Weirdest Breakthrough"