Good morning!

We humans generated and stored 2.5 quintillion bytes of new data about ourselves yesterday. We’ll do it again today and tomorrow and the day after that. Much of the information those bytes represent is already online or will be shortly. If we rummage around in it, we’ll find out why our net worth rose or fell while we were sleeping, what we’re going to pay for groceries this week and what colours we’ll be wearing this fall. We’ll read about how self-driving cars and tractor trailers are already on the roads in Europe and will be in Pittsburgh within a few days. It seems like only yesterday that this was an idea being tested in a lab. Is it any wonder that it’s so much harder to keep up with today’s world than it used to be, let alone understand it?

There’s too much happening too fast on too many fronts. IBM tells us that 90% of the world’s data was created in the last two years alone. But there are those who know how to extract what they need from it to accomplish what they want to accomplish. That’s why Personal Due Diligence exists. That’s something that families about to start discussions involving sending their children to university will want—no, need—to include in their deliberations. Because by the time those children graduate, taxi drivers and truck drivers may be a thing of the past. Not to mention transit drivers. It may be faster and more convenient to travel between Quebec City and Windsor by high-speed rail than by plane. We may no longer be carrying cash.

The work that’s making those ideas reality is already being done. And that’s barely scratching the surface. That it’s being done is no secret. But we haven’t conditioned ourselves to go looking for information about it because we and our parents didn’t. Then again, we didn’t have smartphones and Pokémon GO when we were growing up. Our kids do.

Something else we and our parents didn’t have was 129 million fellow graduates in 2010. There will be 204 million by 2020. We call that “the competition”.

In 2012, in the part of the universe called Canada, things didn’t unfold as they should for between 100,000 and 300,000 new graduates, as far as we know. They accepted unpaid internships because they couldn’t find jobs that paid real money and they’d run out of options. It’s four years later and the story hasn’t gone away. It’s become worse. Employers now refer to unpaid interns as “volunteers”.

But what of the graduates who did find work. What did they do that the “unpaid interns” and “volunteers” didn’t do?

On Aug. 19th, the CBC reported that Treasury Board President Scott Brison wanted to know why 12 federal departments were violating government policy by not paying their interns. The report named the departments and quoted Joshua Mandryk of the Canadian Intern Association. According to the CBC:

“Mandryk says that as the issue of unpaid internships gets more attention from the news media and governments, businesses appear to be looking more frequently to educational programs for free interns to cut their payroll costs.”

To quote Mandryk:

“With the growing recognition that a lot of unpaid internships are illegal, a lot of employers are simply shifting their unpaid internships towards … school programs, so it’s more by the book.

“But at the end of the day, it’s really the same sort of stuff — we’re really talking about employers getting a large pool of free labour.”

John Cruickshank proposed a solution to the problem of keeping up with and understanding the world of 2016. He called it: reading newspapers. John recently retired as Publisher of the Toronto Star and President of the Star Media Group. He spoke at TEDxToronto 2014. He called his talk, “Why We Can’t Afford to Disengage from the News”. You can watch John deliver his talk by clicking here.

You can read IBM’s view of big data and 2.5 quintillion bytes a day by clicking here.

This isn’t a plug for the Toronto Star or for IBM. It’s about John Cruickshank’s urging us to be aware. That’s what due diligence is: being aware. It’s why I founded Personal Due Diligence (PDD) in 2012.

A university degree starts out as a blank “passkey”. In the time it takes to earn that degree, the student will have “loaded” information into it to reflect the credits he or she earned in anticipation of using it to unlock a door to a steady, paying job with prospects. The key will open only certain doors. The more closely aligned the passkey is with the “combination”, the more likely the door is to open.

This isn’t merely an analogy. The volume of résumés, transcripts, cover letters and other job application documents is such that most companies demand machine-readable or on-line submissions. If the software that drives those machines and reads those on-line submissions doesn’t detect the necessary alignment, it rejects the application.

It costs C$32,000 to earn a bachelor’s degree when you factor in tuition, fees and expenses, and your child lives at home. More if he or she doesn’t. Those 100,000 – 300,000 graduates collectively made an investment of between C$3.29 billion and C$9.87 billion and netted a return of C$0.00 in the year following graduation. Chances are the same thing happened to a new cohort in each of 2013, 2014 and 2015.For whatever reason, none of the keys those graduates were carrying opened a door.

Personal Due Diligence works with families who want to make sense of a world that will still be a work in progress they day their children graduate. Answers to questions like the ones below hint at what should be loaded into your child’s “passkey” and why.

Call or write if you’d like to talk about what your answers are and what they should be. There will be no charge for that discussion, and any information you share with us will be held in strictest confidence.

  • What do I know and understand about the world as it applies to me today?
  • What do I know and understand about how it applies to my children?
  • What will my funding 4 or more years of university buy them?
  • What kind of world will be waiting for them when they graduate?
  • What kind of work will be waiting for them?
  • Where will it be?
  • How up-to-date and reliable is the information I used to come to my conclusions?
  • What if I’m wrong?

Not all graduates will find work in their chosen field. But odds are that those who prepare will fare better than those who don’t. In the world we live in, it’s better to know than to guess or roll the dice.



Neil Morris
Founder & President
Personal Due Diligence

+ 1 905 273 9880
Skype: fnmorris