...the management skills we teach our kids

As I was writing these lines, my RSS reader picked up an interesting news release: Spanish-language broadcasters have a relatively high incidence of fast-food commercials that may be partially responsible for the 'obesity epidemic' that young Latinos are exhibiting in our country (Thompson et al., in Fox et al., 2008). According to the article, “30 percent of all Hispanic or Latino children in the United States are overweight, compared to 25 percent of white children,” and “50 percent of all Hispanic or Latino children have a television in their rooms, compared to 20 percent of white children.” Doing the math is not so complicated even if television is unlikely to be the only factor.

I am also hopeful that, just as in the case of substance abuse or pre-marital sex, even the highest amounts of advertising are unable to match parental example and influence. This line of thought made me come up with the theme for this month’s column: as MBAs (already minted or in process), what management sills are we modeling for our kids?

We model Financial management skills in topics such as savings, budgeting, cash flow, debt or record-keeping whenever we allow our kids to see that we save or otherwise keep good track of our money. We also model Management competencies like leadership, conflict resolution, the power of first impressions and related interviewing skills, whenever we act in front of our kids even in informal organizations like groups of friends or family reunions. I am sure that we can continue to apply this argument to areas such as Marketing, Accounting, Operations, Information Technologies, Strategy, etc.

But this is also a double-edged sword! Our kids are probably going to learn from both our productive and ineffective modeling, which reminds me: if we want the Latino vote to matter, don’t forget to vote this year, and make sure that “your kids” notice!

Tom├ís Kadala from ResearchPAYS, Inc. in New York tells us “to fully understand the deteriorating relationship between parents and their children (or adults with their younger family members) one must test the foundations of their core values. For most Hispanics the traditional family hierarchy where the parent’s decision is considered final, children tend to seek and accept instruction from an adult easily, hence, performing well in school as well as in their daily interactions with others. On the other hand, in families where authority is lacking usually due to adults having to spend more time at work than at home, the crucial moments of connecting with a child are lost. Compared to a management team within a company, if the CEO or senior management’s presence was never felt by its employees, a company would easily lose focus and potentially overspend or invest unwisely. One might argue that the adhesive forces keeping a firm working under good or not so good management is the level of compensation. Let’s face it. Without the assurances of receiving competitive salaries, employees would not show up to work. What about within a family structure where the incentive to cooperate cannot be measure in dollars and cents? Clearly a different bonding agent than a steady salary is required. Adults must draw from a core set of values that has been handed down to them by their own parents and grandparents. When one does not exist then problems such as obesity, drug abuse, and school drop outs can only be expected.

I realize many NSHMBA members probably do not have kids (yet?), but I still think that all might relate to these thoughts. After all, those who don't have children of their own are likely to have nieces, nephews, neighbors, or other young acquaintances, right? If you have a suggestion, experience or reflection along these lines that you would like to share with your fellow NSHMBA members, I look forward to hearing from you on this (or any other business issue that you would like to explore) via email, fax, snail mail or blog --the latter is preferred, just click on the "Comments" link below!.

Fox, M. et al. (2008). TV ads in Spanish may fuel kid obesity: study. [Reuters on Yahoo! news.] Retrieved February 19, 2008, from http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080219/hl_nm/obesity_ads_usa_dc_1/.