(noun, etymology Dutch from ‘boedel’: estate, possession, inheritance, stock.). 1. Crowd, pack, lot, as in ‘the whole boodle.’ 2. a. Counterfeit money b. Money acquired or spent illegally or improperly, particularly when used in bribery for political purposes. 3. Slang for money in general.

The da Vinci Coda

Posted on: Feb. 8, 2011  |  By: Ronnie Kahn  |  Category: Advice, General


You say you want money,

but you’re the one who’s a little stingy,

Cuz we not only want you

We need Leonardo Da Vinci.

–          Strange job interview

Advice for recent college graduates, college students, and job seekers

What was I skilled to do, what was there out there to do, and what did I want to do?  Coming up to twenty years ago, after being in business for twelve years, the partnership business that I started was floundering.  While I wore many hats in that business, which was screen printing by the way, I was not the true salesman by a long shot.  It made the most sense for me to leave to pursue other things, but what other things?  I had to do what so many of us do who look themselves in the mirror, check their guts, and take an all too quick inventory, I had to reinvent myself.  What was left out of the equation was that many jobs are found by social means such as a “friend-of-a-friend knows someone who” type of thing.  That was true in my case as my cousin invited me to try my hand at sales in the financial services industry.  Was this some type of learning disorder?  Here I was, deciding to do a sales job which was just the thing I worried that I was not good at in the first place.  Not only that, I decided to concentrate on investing which, at the time, I knew practically nothing about.

Since I hate not knowing things, I had no problem being motivated to learn anything I could about money and investing.   As for the demand surrounding the profession, I knew with a billion baby boomers moving toward retirement that there would be a huge need for a money skill-set.  The sales thing though was a horse (trader) of a different color.  Not only did I question whether I was good at sales, it wasn’t clear whether I even liked doing it.  Something told me though, not to try and be something that I was not.  It made more sense to take on this task and make it my own.  What I loved about my earlier job was the creative side of things and trying to solve problems in different ways.  My instinct told me that I would need to be just as much the poet-of-money as I would have to be the scientist of money by making money grow like Mendel, using genetics with pea plants.  That instinct served me well.

I recently saw a survey where college students views about the future are more pessimistic than ever recorded before.  It is hard for me to get my arms around the task that most college grads and current students face.  Things are changing so rapidly that today’s career tour-de-force can be tomorrow’s obsolete typewriter repair service.  It seems like a blink of an eye ago that everyone proclaimed that the information age was upon us.  Now, some of those very same pundits see that the information age is passing America by with the effects of computers replacing jobs that people used to do and the outsourcing of jobs to lower cost countries.

With jobs leaving or being absorbed by technology and everyone else seeing more of their skills sets lagging behind, where does that leave the next wave?  The mantra used to be that to be successful you needed to think outside the box.  Now, you need to disassemble the box and remake it as a polygon that intersects with a circle.  That means you need to be a “universal” person.  You need to be artist as much as scientist, inductive as much as deductive, right-brained just as much as left-brained, and able to put seemingly disparate things together in novel ways.  You need to come to the realization, like the one I did when I reinvented myself, that you need to be Willie Shakespeare combined with a mad scientist.  You have to cultivate being female as well as male, social and individualistic.

The fields that rely on math and science, business, and creativity have all seen massive shifts as each one looks to adapt to how information is used.  Each field has strong suits as well as weaknesses in how it is evolving with this upheaval.  With so much competition for our attention, only a limited few products, images, and ideas can break through and go viral.  If you can create content that makes the next phone app or social media, you can ride the tsunami otherwise you reside in what is known as the “long tail” of non-hits.  If you can sell mass quantities of non-hits as well as the hits, like Netflix or Amazon do, you not only have evolved to these shifts, you are helping to create them.

So where does this leave college students, grads, and job seekers?

  • Buy Meaning.  We may play the game using image (see “Sell Money” below) but we live by substance.  Some are coming to the realization that while they need to make a living, they need meaning (see 2/1/2011 blog Meaning Money), purpose, as well as working to make things better for all of us.
  • Be aware of how crowds, groups, and individuals collaborate as well as compete.  The world is connected by people as well as ideas and understanding how these multiple actors are using those ideas offer potential for how things can take shape.
  • Next, as authors Daniel Goleman and Adele Lynn try to impress on us, you need emotional intelligence too.  We are not just rational beings but social creatures that need to see how we relate to each other.
  • At any rate, a job applicant cannot bury their heads in the individual specialty sand.
  • Get out of your own skin and pre-conceived patterns by such things as play, role-play, and humor.
  • One caveat is that you can’t be something that you are not but you can train yourself to expand your ways of viewing the world.
  • We view the world by telling ourselves and others stories.  With interconnection at such a premium, mastering story telling is as essential as finding answers.
  • Sell Money.  Create a hook, like making a pitch for a screenplay, that is just a few words but establishes the essential “you.”  Then, make a plan by casting a wide social net of consistently contacting those you meet along the way, such as connections made at internships.  Good jobs are most likely found by someone who doesn’t know you directly but knows someone you know.
  • Also, whether you went to college or are an autodidact, you need to know how to learn more than what to learn which is a skill-set needed when change is so rapid.
  • You need context and not content about yourself, others, and society.
  • Mostly though, you simply need to be a master of all trades, jack of none, and sprinkle in being capable of small invention at the same time.  This is the Renaissance and now is the time to be Leonardo da Vinci, baby.


  • I found the article interesting in the context of being an artist. I am a visual artist currently collaborating on a project involving a dancer and now a film editor. Combining the experience and points of view gives insight and projects forward the ideas I have generated. It is exciting and challenging what I have begun, that can develop and become rooted in the world in a new way.
    It is important to be able to verbalize, to take something as abstract as what we are and what we are doing and be able to put it into a few words. This takes a lot of time and searching but well worth finding the needle in the haystack.
    And finally this idea of relating to each other and each other’s stories is what it’s all about.

  • Adele Lynn says:

    So much of what you said really does come down to a person’s emotional intelligence. The ability to solve quadratic equations may be a function of a person’s IQ, but the ability to deal with everyday job stresses, shifting priorities, demanding customers, and difficult co-worker is a function of EQ or emotional intelligence. Knowledge and information will always be important to engineer good processes and solutions, but research suggests that true superstars have a high blend of both IQ and EQ.

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