Meg Jay's Big Life Lessons

Resilience. Tenacity. Toughness. No matter what you call it, it’s covered here, along with a myriad of topics.


LIERSCH: Hey humans, I’m Michael Liersch and this is my next move on Podcast presented by JPMorgan. I’m a behavioral scientist which is just a fancy way of saying I help humans understand their behaviors to make better money decisions.  Each episode, I take a look at our interactions with money and consider science-based techniques.  This episode is part two of our discussion, clinical psychologist and author, Dr. Meg Jay.  Last week, was part one of our discussion.  Check it now if you missed it. In part one, we talked about the importance of being intentional in your 20s, which can help create a strong identity that will carry you in your future.  In part two, Meg and I discuss many important topics, including how it’s never too late to change your behaviors and how to be deliberate about who you surround yourself with.  Here is the second part of my interview with Meg Jay.

Let’s go to a topic that you have written about, which is resilience and when you think about this idea of resilience, a lot of families ask us if I don’t really have a family situation or circumstance where any family member really needs to experience any kind of hardship, there really is enough that everyone could do nothing, how do I intentionally facilitate resilient building experiences?

JAY: When parents tell me we have no hardships, I kind of have to look at them and say you might want to restructure the way your household runs because of course, we’re not going to prescribe trauma and you know, - - scenarios happen, you can’t protect your kid from being bullied at school or from bad things happening.


JAY: But let’s say you’re fortunate and none of that happens, we can raise our kids in a way that makes them more independent, rather than more dependent.

LIERSCH: Dependent.

JAY: And so, anyhow, that’s easier to do when they’re in your house. If none of that has happened, then you got 25-year-old or a 30-year-old, it’s still a great time, right?


JAY: Because think about it, that person, right now is your child, but statistically speaking, within ten or 15 years, they’re going to be somebody’s parent, so think about all the things that you would like your child to be able to do with somebody’s parent and now is the time to start handing those responsibilities over.

LIERSCH: Would even share those same values and decision-making methodologies and resilience building experiences with their children and pass them down to cross generations.

JAY: Exactly. And to say, okay, so I’m going to start sort of passing the baton of I’m not going to figure this out for your, we’re going to figure out yourself, or we’re going to figure out okay, I’m going to give you this much so you can have an apartment with a doorman but the rest of the rent is your responsibility.  You know, I’ll help you out a little with the rent so the apartment is in a safe neighborhood or in a good spot, but the lion share is your responsibility to earn, or well, maybe you wouldn’t be, but you would be maybe not surprised at how many clients that have, they don’t pay their own cell phone bills, they have no idea how much that costs or how that works.  I mean these are things that even if --

LIERSCH: [Transposing] With a lot of partnerships, spouses, they actually, they report to us they split those responsibilities.

JAY: Right. So one person does not know.

LIERSCH: And it’s not gender based.

JAY: Right.

LIERSCH: One person does that all and the other person has no idea what’s going on. They’ve never seen those bills, they don’t know what those expenses look like, so I think it’s just common in general across humans.

JAY: That we fall into these roles and then we don’t think, wait a minute, even if you’re going to have a family CFO whose going to take care of a lot of that, there are obviously, you know this, there are ways that you can still empower your kids to know about their finances and their bills and their budget and what they’re spending and how to live in that, and that actually makes people feel more in control of their lives.

LIERSCH: I’ve met with so many human beings who say my parents never gave to me, or they enabled me to quit my job or I thought it was the time to explore, that’s what everyone told me and now I’m in my 30s and I had to like pack all this stuff in, the child, partnership, and perhaps you can’t actually have done those things, I know you talk about that. What would you recommend to these humans?  How do they reframe it for themselves so they don’t think, uh, I lost this defining decade.

JAY: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So a friend, who went to a college reunion, I guess it was her 20th and she was talking to somebody, it was a 40-something male friend of hers and he said I just read this book, it has changed my life, it has helped me so much.  And she said oh, well what’s the name of it?  And he said the Defining Decade.  She said really? My friend wrote that.  But what I love about the story is that he was able to see the book and see that there is nothing in that book that is not relevant to a 30-something or 40-something, it’s really about adult development, it’s the science of adult development, it’s what we know, but most people don’t know if you didn’t go get a P-H-D in this about how to put together a life that feels good and how to use your time in a way that you’ll feel good about.  There’s nothing in the Defining Decade that expires at 30.  It was really just my intention to say the sooner, the better, the why not teach people, education is an intervention.  Why not give people this intervention when they’re first getting going on figuring out how to put together a life, but all the same rules still apply of identity.  We’re in our 40s, but I’m still thinking okay, what’s my next piece of identity capital.  I can’t just go on the same five for the next 20 years.  What next for me?  I’m still thinking, my life still revolves around the strength of weak ties or how the people that we know help us find new things in life and so I would say you can only just start with where you are and that’s what we have to do every day. 

LIERSCH: So to keep it then very human and non, let’s call it age based, you mentioned this idea of strong and weak ties and you make it with people you’re close to and people you’re not as close to, I’d love you to touch on that topic and then I’d love you to also highlight two other key insights you’d like to share with others and just have a general human concept?

JAY: Okay.

LIERSCH: And then we’ll close with a question I have for you that I’ve been asking.

JAY: When you’re launching a life, you just have to start with what’s a good use of my time? Start there.


JAY: And then understanding the strength of weak ties, so that’s a phrase that comes out of a famous study, Mark - - out of Stanford looked at people who had recently changed jobs and he was curious, how did you find your new job?


JAY: So what he found out was that people’s the lead in terms of how they heard about the new job or directed to this new opportunity. It didn’t come from family or close friends. 


JAY: It came from acquaintances or people they saw only rarely or occasionally. Those were their weak ties, so they’re like our furthest out people in our network.

LIERSCH: Which feels kind of intuitive because you would think it would be your closet connections that would quote, unquote help you get a job.

JAY: Help you out, exactly. But no, if your close connections knew of some great job for you, you would already be working there, right?  So whenever we need a new job, or a new partner, a new idea, that it’s really better to put what you need out there and talk to as many people about it as possible, don’t be afraid to reach out to people and say you have any ideas about this or what do you think about working at X-Y or Z, that that’s where the new leaves, the new jobs, the new information comes from, because the further people are out in our network, the more different they are than us in terms of experiences, age, perspectives, day to day life, so they know new things that we don’t know.  I don’t use the word networking with my 20-something clients, because they hate the word because it sounds like nepotism or I got to put on a suit and have business cards or I’m going to ask my dad’s friend for a favor for something I don’t really deserve.

LIERSCH: I didn’t wear my suit intentionally.

JAY: That’s good. So it’s not actually networking.  What the strength of weak ties was really about 30 years ahead of its time was crowdsourcing that you’re saying I have a problem, I need a new job, I need a new apartment and I’m going to go to the wisdom.

LIERSCH: Reframe. I like that.

JAY: Yeah.

LIERSCH: Okay very good.

JAY: See how I did that? So you’re going to take it to the wisdom of the crowd of the, go beyond two or three people find out what a bunch of people will have to say or think about my problem whatever it is.

LIERSCH: Now I say of course, why wouldn’t I do that?

JAY: Yes.


JAY: And that is, we can do a whole another episode of why people help other people and how if you have that good job, you have the information, it’s very easy for me to help you. All I have to do is forward an e-mail to somebody, a minute of my time and I’ve just changed your life for the better so why would I not do that.

LIERSCH: Which makes me feel good.

JAY: It makes me feel great, so actually, people who are further along, whether it’s your friends who have something you don’t or it’s people who are older, in more senior positions, it’s easy for them to help and they want to help and so you do have to kind of get your courage up and go out there and ask for help.

LIERSCH: The second insight that you want to share.

JAY: Well first it’s an identify capital. Then it’s weak ties.


JAY: You know the third is straight from my book, picking your family. You heard the saying, you can’t pick your family, but you can pick your friends and I hear that a lot in therapy and people are complaining about their parents and their siblings, but then part of my work with people is to say well actually you’re about to pick your family when you choose you partner or your family of whatever structure that is for you moving forward.  Your picking your family by making that an intentional decision, so to get people in this framework of picking your family and I think for a lot of 20-somethings, they go yeah, okay, that sounds okay, that sounds interesting, that sounds smart, but I’m not doing that yet, but then I tell them about a story that was really a story about me when I was in training, my first client was a 20-something and she wanted to come in and talk about boyfriends and whatever, and I thought, great, this is easy, I can do this all day, but I actually didn’t do a very good job of helping her because I didn’t see that what she was saying was important and my supervisor at that time kind of pushed me to push her on taking her relationships more seriously and I shrugged her off and I said okay, why, it’s not like she’s going to marry this person and my supervisor said well not yet, but she might marry the next one and the best time to work on someone’s marriage is before they have one.

LIERSCH: This gets to your five year rule.

JAY: Yes.

LIERSCH: Right? We’re kind of five years ahead of the plan.

JAY: So if you want a good partner in five years, who you’re dating right now actually does matter, because that’s not something you pull out of a hat, the day that you’re ready and so to use your time, really exploring and committing in relationships, is this making me happy, is this a good partner for me, if kids are something I want, would I want to do that with this person, do we share the same goals, do we have the same ideas about how a family works or how a house is run, so to really help people get in front of the picking of the family.

LIERSCH: I’m going to have you complete a sentence for me, in my family, a monetary gift is an expression of dot, dot, dot.

JAY: Okay in my family, a monetary gift would be, I would say, I’m not giving out too many monetary gifts yet.


JAY: But would be an expression of confidence in my child.

LIERSCH: Okay, so tell me more about that, confidence, meaning what?

JAY: So if I’m giving my kids money, it’s because I’m confident that they’re prepared to use it in a way that’s going to be good for them. It really would be for me about confidence that I would be confident that they would use it in an empowering, rather than a destructive way.

LIERSCH: Thank you so much Meg. I really appreciate you joining us today.

JAY: My pleasure, that was fun.

LIERSCH: It’s always a pleasure being with you. And you already set yourself up to join us again, another time.

JAY: Excellent, I’ll be here.

LIERSCH: So I hope that we have you and have our listeners benefit from your insight. So thank you again.

JAY: It’s my pleasure.

LIERSCH: That was Dr. Meg Jay. Her book, the Defining Decade, is available now or you can watch your Ted Talk,  Why 30 is not the new 20.  You can keep up with Meg at MegJ dot com.  That’s it for this episode of my next move.  If there’s a topic that you, as human beings, want me to discuss, e-mail it to my next move dot podcast at JPMorgan dot com.  If you like the show, remember to rate and review the show on Apple podcast or wherever you listen to the podcast.  Oh, if you really like the podcast, tell your friends to listen.  My Next Move is produced by JPMorgan.  I’m Michael Liersch, reminding you to make your next move today.


Resilience. Tenacity. Toughness. No matter what you call it, it’s covered here, along with a myriad of topics, in part two of Michael Liersch’s discussion with Dr. Meg Jay.

She walks us through how to set our kids up for success by helping them, help themselves. “We can raise our kids in a way that makes them more independent rather than more dependent...” “start early with simple things” she tells us. And the discussion doesn’t end there. Liersch and Jay pull back the curtain on some heady topics – identity capital, weak ties and picking your family, to name a few.

My Next Move

Join Michael Liersch as he shares goals-based planning insights and delves into actions that can help listeners strengthen their financial health.

Learn more