THE BLOG
01/11/2011 02:10 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Show Them Your Keys!

Attention all you educated, integrity-based, responsible, hardworking, trailblazing professional people out there; please do this author a favor: if you're within proximity of a teenager or young person, show them your keys! Let them see you slowly raise your keys to remotely unlock your luxury sedan on the curb. Let them be slightly startled by that high-pitched car lock deactivation sound. Let them look back and see you.

Strange Request? Allow me to explain.

I was channel surfing the other day and came across a popular music video on a video channel. I stopped on it for a moment and watched this popular "musician", in dark sunglasses, wearing lots of jewellery and a creepy smile point to beautifully crafted sports cars and a harem of background women. As I watched, I suspected that that "musician" had no relationship to those cars or those women before the video shoot, yet, here he was, pointing to objects and the objectified as he sang his lyrics about what he has and how good it is to have so much more stuff than everyone else. At one point he held up a half a dozen sport car keys as he sang his lyrics... um, okay.

Now, his four-minute musical tribute to irresponsibility and pseudo import did not remotely sway or impress me, but, then again, he probably wasn't looking to impress adults firmly on their path, but rather impressionable young people searching for one.

I read recently that it is estimated that incarceration rates for non-violent crimes have quadrupled since 1980. Meaning, people, particularly young people who have associated non-violent criminal activity with financial freedom comprise an alarming percentage of jails and prisons. This author's interest at this time is not a debate on the American penal system but rather the vulnerability of a young mind that would risk getting trapped within it.

The brilliant marketing tool on which the music video I watched is based is that of association. Me plus this behaviour = that reward.

As Cheryl's Daughter makes preparations for our upcoming IMPACTful Artist speaker series this spring, I've turned to my friend David, a federal policy maker in D.C. for his expertise in mentorship and educationally minded initiatives. Our last conversation was a two hour impassioned exchange about modelling behaviour and making connections to authentic success. Our biggest concern was how to get young people to grasp the notion that with goals of personal and professional growth comes material wealth, if one desires.

"Hmmm..." we paused to consider this question, when David jokingly remarked, "At my next youth speaking event, maybe I should show them my keys." He was referring to the brand spanking new 2011 Mercedes Benz he had just purchased. We both broke out laughing. Imagine! A policy maker, gets introduced, walks up to the podium, throws down the keys to his fully loaded luxury beast and says, "Any questions?"
"Brilliant," I thought, "This could work." We'd be using an age-old tool of association to orient kids towards sustained prosperity, because why limit this trick to pop culture music videos?

So, therefore, successful, integrity-based adults, I urge you: let them see your keys to the businesses you own, to the homes you own, to the practices you've built, to the fortune 500 department floors you manage, to the luxury cars you unlock.

Let them see you, so they can see the potential in themselves. Let's be as willing to promote education, authentic leadership and integrity as the gentleman in that music video, and so many like him seem to be about detouring it.

A happy and prosperous New Year to everyone from all of us here at the Cheryl's Daughter Foundation.

It's already a great year!